Beds, Herts & Bucks

Buckinghamshire cancer patient's care criticised

A man with terminal cancer struggled to get appropriate pain relief, help with going to the toilet and basic comforts at a Buckinghamshire hospital, a report has stated.

Michael Groves, 77, was admitted to Stoke Mandeville Hospital with pancreatic cancer in February.

His experiences have been included in the Patients Association's report into poor care in England's hospitals.

The hospital said it had "thoroughly investigated the matter".

In the report, We've Been Listening, Have You Been Learning?, Mr Groves' daughter, Carole Brown, says: "Surely at this stage of his life he should have been entitled to some care and dignity?

"Everyone deserves the best in their last hours, not downright neglect."

Mr Groves was an "extremely unwell" emergency admission to Wycombe Hospital on 16 February and was transferred to Stoke Mandeville 12 days later.

His daughter said he was "freezing cold" and in need of a drink when he arrived on the ward.

'Writhing in pain'

He was offered ice-cream but then told "they didn't have any spoons on the ward and he wouldn't be told off if he used his fingers", she added.

Mrs Brown said a nurse tended to two other patients first when they knew her father was in pain with his leaking catheter and another left him sitting on a bedpan without access to a buzzer to attract help, she said.

On 2 March, when Mr Groves's family knew "time was short", they found him "writhing in pain" and he had not been given pain relief.

A nurse said he would not take painkillers but the family asked him to be given some immediately and he did not refuse, Mrs Brown said.

They were warned of the risks of moving him to a hospice but were "so desperate to get him away from the ward we decided to risk it," she added.

He died soon after his arrival but was "treated with dignity and respect," Mrs Brown said.

The Patients Association's report contains first hand experiences of 16 patients at hospitals across England.

Katherine Murphy, the charity's chief executive, said: "The issues we continue to highlight are human rights issues.

"They show a lack of compassion and care and a shameful attitude to treatment of the elderly."

Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust said it acknowledged aspects of Mr Groves's care fell below the standard it expected on its wards.

"We expect our staff to care for patients with courtesy and compassion and it is clear in some instances this did not happen - for which the trust and the staff involved are truly sorry."

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