"Lack of consultation over mother's care"

About: Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (Wonford) / Older people's healthcare

(as a relative),

My mother, aged 91, was admitted to hospital for relatively minor surgery: her leg was very swollen and fluid needed to be drained from it. Having been admitted, it was decided she was not fit enough to undergo the surgery; it was said she had an upper respiratory tract infection.

Knowing my mother, I doubted this, as did my sister, but no-one seemed interested in consulting us or listening to us when we tried to intervene. My sister and I both felt that the symptoms my mother had were typical of her: she always had some phlegm in her throat, and this did not seem to indicate an infection. We were unable to make hospital staff understand that, if they waited for my mother's chest to improve, they would probably wait for ever.

As well as not seeking or considering the views of my mother's two children (i.e. my sister and myself), no reference was made to the staff of the care home where my mother was living prior to admission, nor to the local community healthcare staff, some of whom knew my mother extremely well, having cared for her for many years.

My mother became increasingly confused in hospital, which was not surprising, as she was told different things by different members of staff and the story given by any one member of staff tended to change over time. Eventually, it was decided she could have the procedure without a general anaesthetic, and had it with a local anaesthetic.

During her stay in hospital, my mother's general condition became considerably worse. The confusion caused by her period in hospital added to many long-standing health problems, and she died about 4-5 weeks after being discharged.

If hospital staff had consulted my sister and myself, and / or community health care staff, and / or care home staff, my mother could have had the procedure done under local anaesthetic almost straight away on admission and been discharged much sooner. I firmly believe my mother would have lived longer, and been more settled and content in her final months of life. In addition, the NHS would have saved money and provided treatment more quickly for another patient.

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Response from Patient Engagement & Experience Administrator, Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I am sorry to hear your Mother has passed away and I hope you will accept my sincere condolences. I am sorry to hear about the care your Mother and her family received at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and we would like the oppurtunity to discuss this with you further. If I could please ask you to contact the Patient Engagement and Experience Team on 01392 402363 or 01392 403915.

Thank you

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