Stoke & Staffordshire

Patient 'left without oxygen', hospital inquiry told

Bella Bailey
Image caption Bella Bailey collapsed after being left without an oxygen supply

An 86-year-old patient at Stafford Hospital collapsed on a ward after being left without her oxygen supply, a public inquiry has heard.

The inquiry is looking into the hundreds of higher than expected deaths at the hospital between 2005 and 2008.

Julie Bailey told the hearing that her mother Bella was left in a chair with no oxygen supply due to no nurses being available to reconnect the canister.

She later died at the hospital. Ms Bailey described the ward as "chaos".

Ms Bailey set up campaign group Cure The NHS after the death of her mother in 2007.

The group is made up of other relatives whose family members died at the hospital and has been calling for a public inquiry into what went on at the hospital.

At the hearing in Stafford on Monday, Ms Bailey told the inquiry that her niece had been visiting her mother and was told several times that a nurse would reconnect the oxygen supply.

But after 45 minutes no one appeared and her mother collapsed.

Her mother had a hiatus hernia and suffered breathing difficulties. She had undergone an endoscopy and was put in a chair upon her return by a hospital porter, the inquiry heard.

"The healthcare assistant kept saying, 'the nurse will be with you in a minute, the nurse will be with you in a minute' but she never came," she said.

"So mum collapsed and my niece telephoned me.

"I believe that if my niece hadn't gone in to see my mum at that particular time when she collapsed then she would have died there that day.

"I am convinced of it.

"After that I decided that mum would never be in that hospital alone and that is what we did."

Ms Bailey slept by her mother's side on the ward for the next eight weeks.

Image caption Ms Bailey said the ward was "bedlam"

She said she saw patients drinking water from vases on more than one occasion because nurses said drinks could not be left out overnight because of "health and safety".

"It was absolute chaos," she said.

"There were people screaming out, shouting 'nurse, nurse'. It was just bedlam.

"There were just relatives waiting all the way down the corridor which I later learned was people, relatives, coming in for visitor hours and then waiting to talk to staff.

"It was just, it appeared to be, utter chaos on the ward.

"They couldn't find anything else to drink so they were drinking from flower vases.

"There were just no fluids available for patients."

This inquiry is the fifth one looking at what happened at the hospital.

Earlier inquiries into the Healthcare Commission report in 2009 which condemned conditions at the hospital were heard in private.

The new coalition government ordered that an inquiry be held in public.

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