Daughter's concerns discussed after issues seeing late mum

West Suffolk Hospital's main entrance sign

The experience of a woman who couldn't say goodbye to her dying mother after being turned away by the hospital has resulted in changes to their next of kin contact process. - Credit: Archant

A daughter has told hospital bosses she did not have a chance to tell her mum "she didn't die on her own" after experiencing issues during her admission to hospital.

The daughter of a 93-year-old woman spoke at West Suffolk Hospital's recent board meeting where members promised changes to their next of kin contact process would be made. 

On April 13, 2021, the daughter, Elizabeth, received a phone call from a police officer who said her mother, 93, had been found after four days of lying on the floor in her Thetford home.

When she arrived at West Suffolk Hospital, Elizabeth was advised to ring in two hours as her mother was still being assessed.

She told the meeting: "With the police officer's words ringing in my head, that she was in for a check-up and nothing else, I thought I'd just go away quietly and ring in a couple of hours."

She received the same response throughout the night. 

It took until the following morning to visit her mother on the ward where Elizabeth found her asleep in bed. She was told by staff that her mum had been sitting up, drinking tea just moments before.

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Elizabeth decided to return to her mother's house in Thetford to collect belongings but received a call almost immediately upon entering the door.

The doctor told her that her mother had suffered a severe brain stem stroke in the half an hour it took her to drive from Bury St Edmunds to Thetford and was advised to prepare for an end-of-life situation.

Her mother passed away on April 18, 2021.

Elizabeth told the meeting: "She died with a TV at her feet, blaring out game shows on an open ward. No dignity at all."

Seeking answers as to why she was denied seeing her mother after she was admitted, Elizabeth asked for a meeting with someone in charge of her care. 

She ended up having to go through the ombudsman to set up a mediation one year, five weeks and one day after her mother's death.

Elizabeth said: "She was confused, she'd been lying on the floor for four days. I didn't have the opportunity to let her know that she didn't die on her own."

According to the hospital representative, staff were unaware that someone was waiting to see her and apologies were made for the way in which the situation was handled.

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust board members expressed their sincere apologies at the meeting, promising change for the processes going forward in relation to the way in which they record visits from next of kin.