A WOMAN said she still has unanswered questions about the death of her elderly mother, claiming she was subjected to a catalogue of neglect and placed on a controversial “end-of-life” care protocol without her family’s permission.
Burnley grandmother Joan Kinlin (81), of Wycoller Avenue, was taken to the Royal Blackburn Hospital, run by East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, in February 2011 after a minor fall.
During her stay in hospital, her daughter Mrs Sharon Kinlin-Martin said her mother was left unsupervised and allowed to fall repeatedly, leaving her with a bruised face. She said her mental state fluctuated and she was sometimes confused and drowsy.
Her family said an initial report by the health service ombudsman’s medical adviser stated Mrs Kinlin was suffering from delirium, which Mrs Kinlin-Martin claims is classed as a treatable condition.
She was discharged from hospital five weeks after she was admitted but her daughter said she was unable to look after herself as she had done previously.
After another fall in April she was re-admitted to the Royal Blackburn and continued to be confused.
But Mrs Kinlin-Martin said again the delirium was left untreated and her mother’s condition deteriorated.
Two weeks later she became unwell with stomach bug-type symptoms and although intravenous fluids were initially given, Mrs Kinlin-Martin said they were stopped the following day.
But she claimed no explanation was given to relatives and she was forced to give her mother water with a teaspoon.
“We were told she was too drowsy to accept fluids but this was not true as I was to discover.
“What I witnessed was truly horrific, my mother was not only being deprived of vital fluids to keep her alive but her insulin had been stopped.”
After confronting doctors, Mrs Kinlin-Martin contacted a solicitor who faxed a letter to the ward.
Two weeks later Mrs Kinlin developed an infection and died on June 1st 2011.
Her daughter, who said she has since seen her medical notes, has claimed staff took the decision to withhold potentially life-saving treatment without the permission of her family.
She is currently awaiting the outcome of a full report by the health service ombudsman and believes her mother was placed on “end-of-life” care protocol the Liverpool Care Pathway, which can include sedation, withholding life-prolonging treatment, food and fluids, even though, she claims, she did not meet the criteria.
Last week it was announced East Lancashire Hospitals’ NHS Trust is one of five in the country to be investigated over its death rates in the wake of the publication of the inquiry into mistreatment and neglect of patients at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
Mrs Kinlin-Martin wishes her mother, who was an active member of Brunshaw Action Group and former treasurer of Burnley Women’s Health Forum, had never been admitted and feels her death could have been avoided.
“I wish she had never gone in. The first time she was admitted she was in good spirits and was laughing and joking with the ambulance men but she was deprived of the care, dignity and respect she deserved. It wasn’t care, she died of neglect.”
But bosses at the Trust have accused Mrs Kinlin-Martin of making inaccurate and factually incorrect allegations and said they had worked hard to address her concerns.
A spokeswoman said: “The Trust received Mrs Kinlin-Martin’s original letter of complaint on October 11th 2011.
“The chief executive, Mr Mark Brearley, appointed senior managers and clinicians as investigating officers. Since the initial complaint and comprehensive inquiries and response, there has been considerable communication and correspondence to Mrs Kinlin-Martin, giving her updates on the progress of the investigation. Clinical records and reports requested by Mrs Kinlin-Martin have also been forwarded to her.
“A formal response was provided in line with the Trust’s complaints process, however Mrs Kinlin-Martin went immediately to the ombudsman. The investigation by the health service ombudsman is still ongoing and they are yet to reach any conclusion.
“The Trust can confirm a number of the assertions made to the press by Mrs Kinlin-Martin are factually inaccurate and incorrect. Where we identified areas for improvement following our investigation, we addressed these promptly and responded openly to Mrs Kinlin-Martin.
“Further detail would put the Trust at risk of prejudice to the ombudsman’s inquiry.”
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