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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Hospital boss apologises after Carlisle man's privacy complaint

A pensioner was told she had weeks to live as she lay in her hospital bed – with just a curtain for privacy.

Mark Scrivener photo
Mark Scrivener

Nurses at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary even suggested breaking the devastating news in the hospital canteen as there was nowhere else to go.

The family of the 73-year-old woman say they were also told that she had a brain tumour, and that it was inoperable, by her bedside while other people were within earshot.

Her son Mark Scrivener, of Morton, Carlisle, described the ordeal as “deplorable” and accused hospital bosses of repeatedly failing his mother.

Hospital bosses have since apologised and insist lessons have been learnt.

But the 47-year-old has spoken out in a bid to prevent it happening to others.

Mr Scrivener said: “When we were called into the hospital to be told my mother only had weeks to live and the nurse suggested going down to the canteen as it would be quieter I was flabbergasted.

“I was feeling numb and lost and to be told there was no private room available for us to go and take all this in – I couldn’t believe how disrespectful that was.

“All we had was a thin curtain between us and everyone else in the ward.

“That’s no privacy at all.”

Mr Scrivener, an HGV driver, claims the only private room on the ward was being used as a manager’s office at the time.

“They [hospital bosses] think more of the management than the patients,” he said. “I was so angry – how can they treat a human being that way?

“This is not a personal vendetta – I’m highlighting this so that others don’t have to go through the same thing”

Mr Scrivener’s mother, who has five grandchildren, is now in a care home in Carlisle.

Ann Farrar, chief executive of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the infirmary, wrote to Mr Scrivener to apologise for the way the news was broken.

She also wrote that matrons had been asked to assure her that all wards have rooms to break bad news.

She promised to write to Mr Scrivener again by March 10 with their feedback – but he has still had no further letters.

He added: “I have no faith in that hospital at all.”

A spokeswoman for the trust said: “We have recently met with Mr Scrivener to apologise for the inappropriate way in which the upsetting news about his mother was shared with him and his family.

“Clearly this fell way below the standards of privacy and dignity that any of us would expect.

“Our ward team have reflected on this and put measures in place to ensure this does not happen again.

“We have written to Mr Scrivener with an update this week.”

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