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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

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Health chiefs say sorry for below standard of care for OAP - inquest

Health chiefs have apologised to the family of a pensioner who died in the West Cumberland Hospital for the “below standard” care she received.

Elizabeth Berwick photo
Elizabeth Berwick

Related: Concerns over level of care after pensioner's death in Cumbrian home

Elizabeth Berwick was “never the same again” after being admitted to the Whitehaven hospital following a collapse at home in 2010, an inquest has heard.

Her daughter, Dorothy Walker, says every aspect of the care her mother received was “not good enough”, including two spells at the West Cumberland and a three-week stay at Whitehaven’s Pow Beck care home in between.

Mrs Berwick, 85, died on March 2, 2011 of internal bleeding, a urinary tract infection and a severe pressure sore.

Mrs Walker told the inquest into her mother’s death yesterday that she had lodged a formal complaint with the hospital.

She said: “Before she went into hospital, my mother was bright, alert and mentally fine. But from the day she went in, she was never the same again.

“She was in agony, she lost weight, she was constantly sleepy and couldn’t speak to her family, which was totally unlike her.”

Mrs Walker claims that her mother’s deterioration was compounded by the lack of care she received. She detailed one occasion at the WCH when her mother was left in a cold room wearing minimal clothing because staff could not locate her own clothes. She raised further concern that her mother had not been given enough assistance at mealtimes.

Mrs Walker added: “My mother’s lack of care has greatly affected my family. It was no way to end her days.”

In response, Sue Page, chief executive of the then Cumbria Primary Care Trust, said: “Mrs Berwick’s care fell below the standards we would expect.

“We apologise unreservedly for this deficiency in care; that her dignity was compromised and her needs were not met.”

Mrs Berwick, of Lincoln Road, Whitehaven, had a pacemaker fitted at the West Cumberland after a spell recuperating on the Copeland Unit - run by Cumbria Partnership NHS Trust - and was discharged to the Cumbria County Council-owned Pow Beck care home, Mirehouse.

She returned to hospital after less than three weeks in the home and died four days later.

The inquest had earlier heard that some of the care Mrs Berwick received at Pow Beck has been called into question, including delays in administering medication, insufficient treatment of her infected pressure sore and discrepancies in record-keeping.

The inquest heard yesterday that a Serious Untoward Incident (SUI) report had been triggered following Mrs Berwick’s death.

Since then, a number of measures have been put in place at the West Cumberland and Pow Beck including improved training and education of staff in pressure sores care and better monitoring of food and fluid intake.

Coroner Robert Chapman will deliver his verdict at the resumption of the inquest tomorrow.

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