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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Way pensioner told he was dying 'unacceptable', says north Cumbria hospitals trust

An elderly man found out he had two weeks to live while his son was in the hospital car park, on his way to visit him.

Stephen Temple photo
Stephen Temple

Stephen Temple says the other patients on his dad’s ward at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle had heard the heart-breaking news before him.

Stephen hit out at the hospital after doctors told his frail, 82-year-old father Joseph he had two weeks to live without any of his family around him.

Mr Temple Snr was in his bed on Larch C ward at the time with just a curtain for privacy and several other patients within earshot.

Stephen, of Levens Drive, Morton, Carlisle, only found out when his dad called him as he arrived in the hospital car park for a visit.

Two weeks later, last Monday, grandfather-of-seven Mr Temple died of suspected asbestos poisoning.

North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, which runs the infirmary, has admitted the way the news was broken was “unacceptable”.

Stephen, who works at Pirelli, said: “I was going in on the morning for a visit when my phone went and it was my dad.

“He said ‘bad news son – it’s cancer’ and I didn’t know what to do so I told him I was coming straight up.

“When I got into the ward the chap who was in the bed next to my dad was shaking his head – he and the other four on the ward knew before any of us.”

He added that the doctor then came in and closed the curtains before explaining the diagnosis.

“The doctor had already told my dad and we weren’t even there,” Stephen said.

“I felt gutted. I knew his lungs were bad and didn’t expect a good outcome but I couldn’t believe they would tell him without any of his family around him.”

The revelation comes after the News & Star told how another pensioner and her family were told she had just weeks to live while she lay in her bed at the hospital, with just a curtain for privacy, as no private family room was available.

The hospital trust has said in a statement: “We have high standards in place regarding the breaking of sad news to patients and their families and it is totally unacceptable that we have not met our expected standard.

“As a team we have reflected on this together and we need to ensure that every member of staff on every ward has the appropriate skills so that families receive the care and compassion they deserve.

“Our chief matron has contacted Mr Temple to discuss what happened to his father and we have invited him into the hospital so we can further learn from this case.”

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