Hospital care of Haverhill man is slammed

A COMPLAINT has been against West Suffolk Hospital after a gravely ill 90-year-old man from Haverhill was left on a trolley for nine hours and became so dehydrated he was placed on a drip.

Dr Lin Berwick has lodged her formal grievance after her dad George Berwick, from Beaumont Court, was admitted to hospital shortly before midnight last Wednesday (October 3) and left on a trolley in the A&E department until 8.30am the next day when he was moved to the emergency assessment unit until a bed became available on a geriatric ward at 5.30pm.

Dr Berwick, who lives in Sudbury, said: “This man was dying. He was receiving end of life care. He’s got so many things wrong - dementia and Parkinson’s Disease - he should never have been stuck on a hospital trolley for nine hours.

“I’m not saying the care he received was bad, it wasn’t, they were very kind to him. They were just over run by people and they couldn’t give him the attention they needed.

“I saw him at six o’clock that evening on the Wednesday and he was totally exhausted. He was totally out of it.

“I said I was going to put in a formal complaint. I said that to the A&E and the emergency assessment unit staff and their response was, ‘we wish you would because we are just over worked and under resourced’.”

Mr Berwick has been a widower, explained Dr Berwick, and living alone since his wife Alma died in 2005. Their son John, who lives in Wixoe, had been supporting him at home in recent months.

In the past Mr Berwick had been treated for cancer of the bladder but his health deteriorated and on August 23 he was admitted to the hospital with bronchial pneumonia and a urinary infection.

Prior to his admission to hospital he had been diagnosed with vascular dementia, and while in hospital it was discovered he had Parkinson’s, chronic kidney disease and diverticulitis, a condition of the bowel. He also had two further bouts of pneumonia.

Despite being very ‘ill and weak’ explained Dr Berwick, he was discharged and sent home at his own request on October 3 and his family and the hospital between them organised the necessary full-time care, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including a doubling up of carers for his toileting needs.

Mr Berwick arrived home at 2.30pm that day, but that same night carers were unable to cope with his physical requirements, and after the paramedics were called out to help he was readmitted to hospital.

Dr Berwick said: “I knew it was never going to work and that one carer wouldn’t be able to handle him on his own because he was too weak and frail. I could never understand how they let him out.

“It is quite soul destroying really to see how this big strong man deteriorated so fast and now he is like something out of Belsen.

“He is just skin and bone.”

Dr Berwick is unable to care for her father as she is blind, has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, while her other brother lives in Sweden so is also unable to help.

A spokesman for West Suffolk Hospital said: “We would like to pass our sincere apologies to Dr Berwick and her father for the amount of time which Mr Berwick spent waiting in A&E without being transferred to a bed. We will be carrying out a full investigation to find out exactly what happened in this particular case.

“We want everybody who uses West Suffolk Hospital to have a positive experience of the treatment we offer and are committed to ensuring all of our patients receive high quality care. We actively encourage feedback from patients, relatives and carers, and use their comments to identify existing good practice as well as any areas where we could improve further.”