THE family of a woman who died at Colchester General Hospital six weeks after being admitted following a fall have launched legal action.
Hospital medics are accused of missing an abscess which partially paralysed Jean Warne, 74, leaving her unable to lift her arms and eat her food.
Her family say by the time they realised, it was too late to save her. Following an aborted attempt to give her surgery in London, she died on March 6 last year.
Daughter Melody Snowden, 51, and husband, John, have now instructed Leigh Day solicitors, to sue the hospital claiming the lack of dignity Mrs Warne received amounted to a breach of the Human Rights Act.
John, 64, said: “Jean was strong, she was feisty and her brain was working 100 per cent.
“If she had been given the right treatment and care, she wouldn’t have gone the way she went.”
Shortly after Mrs Warne retired in 2000, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy.
But the cancer returned and spread to her spine, leaving her prone to suffering falls.
Mr Snowden, of London Road, Stisted, said she would usually be checked over and released within a day.
But after being taken from her Gosfield home to Colchester General Hospital in mid-January, they decided to start looking at care homes she could move into. However, he claimed the lack of care and attention his mother-in-law was given meant she deteriorated rapidly.
He said: “She was put in a seat in the mornings and just left there.
“Throughout that period, she was getting worse and worse.
“She complained of a pain in her neck and in that time of sitting there an abscess formed in her neck, which eventually paralysed her.
“She couldn’t even raise her arms to eat her food and they would just take it away.
“She was left in her bed soiled and she was left in her seat soiled.
“You wouldn’t treat a dog like she was treated.”
Mr Snowden, a retired AA director, and his wife visited every day and said they would have to feed her themselves.
He added: “Melody went up there one day with a friend.
They walked in and Jean was in such neck pain, she was screaming out. The lady opposite said she was crying out all through the night and no one came.
“All they used to do was put her in a private room because she was keeping the other patients awake. It was disgraceful.”
On March 5, Mr and Mrs Snowden were told Mrs Warne had a suspected abscess.
Doctors told them she was too frail to survive treatment and had only days to live. However, that night they received a call telling them Mrs Warne was being taken to Romford’s Queen’s Hospital for surgery.
Mr Snowden contacted Queen’s, which told him when she arrived they almost immediately realised she was too weak to deal with the anaesthetic.
Mrs Warne was sent back to Colchester General Hospital, where she died that afternoon.
Mr Snowden said they had an initial meeting with doctors who he said admitted they should have spotted the abscess sooner and should not have sent her to Queen’s.
Afterwards, he wrote to former chief executive Dr Gordon Coutts to express his anger, and received a letter back offering a meeting. He refused and got in touch with Leigh Day solicitors.
Ten months on, Mr Snowden said his wife, who has needed time off work, was still too upset and angry to speak about her mother’s care.
The couple are now pursuing legal action. He said: “We could just sit on this and let it go, but people should know about this.
“At the end of the day, Colchester could go on doing exactly the same thing.
“I hope the hospital gets its act together. It’s not going to happen overnight, but theymust take some responsibility for the pain and suffering that they have given to patients and their families.”
A spokesman for Colchester Hospital University NHS Trust said: “We would like to pass on our sympathy and concerns to the family of this patient following her death in March last year, and are sorry and disappointed that they have concerns.
“We received a complaint about this patient shortly after her death, which was investigated as a serious incident.
“One of her consultants met the patient’s daughter and sonin- law and apologised to the patient’s family for some aspects of her care.”