Pensioner "disgusted" with hospital after being deprived of chance to say final goodbye to husband

Redditch Advertiser: (8100571) (8100571)

A PENSIONER says she is "devastated" and "utterly disgusted" that she was not told of her dying husband's hospital transfer, robbing her of the chance to say goodbye.

Edna Roberts, aged 75, of Church Hill North, is also angry with ambulance staff she called out to her house after her husband's health deteriorated just hours before he died, after they told her she should only phone 999 in a "life and death" situation.

Mrs Roberts called 999 several times on June 22 as she said she knew her husband Charles, aged 76, who had an aortic embolism and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), had become gravely ill.

But during two visits, she says paramedics were critical of her calling an emergency ambulance and one simply suggested he take two aspirin.

After a third 999 call, a doctor was sent out, and he diagnosed Mr Roberts had a severe bladder infection and contacted an ambulance to take him to hospital.

At approximately 1pm, 45 minutes later, and after Mrs Roberts had made a call to find out where the ambulance was, it arrived and took her husband to Redditch's Alexandra Hospital.

Mrs Roberts said at 4am she received a call telling her that her husband had "taken a dip" and could she get to the hospital immediately.

After getting a taxi to the Alex, she was informed by a member of staff that they did not have a Mr Roberts admitted. The staff member then returned to say her husband had been transferred to Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

But by the time Mrs Roberts got to Worcester, it was too late, and her husband had died without the couple, who have been married for 50 years, having the chance to say a final goodbye.

Mrs Roberts said: "I'm devastated. I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to Charles, I never heard his last words. If I had been told as soon as the transfer happened, I would have had time to get to Worcester and hold his hand as he went.

"I am utterly disgusted with the hospital, and also with the ambulance staff, who told me off for phoning 999 as it was not 'life and death', when I knew my husband was in such a bad way and I was so very worried."

Lindsey Webb, chief nursing officer from Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We are very sorry about Mrs Roberts' experience at our hospitals.

“Unfortunately due to the seriousness of Mr Roberts' condition it was essential he be transferred to Worcestershire Royal Hospital for specialist treatment as a matter of urgency. This should have been communicated to Mrs Roberts at the first possible opportunity, and we are very sorry that this was not the case.

“We will be in touch with Mrs Roberts personally to offer our sincere apologies.

“Clear communication is an important part of patient care and we will be re-emphasising this to our staff.”

West Midlands Ambulance Service confirmed it attended Mr Roberts on June 8 and 15 and on each occasion took him to the Alexandra Hospital.

A spokesman said: "On June 22, three calls were received in regard to a pre-existing medical condition. The first ambulance arrived at 9.30am where the staff found the patient in a stable condition and arranged for a GP to assess him. A GP visited Mr Roberts and asked for Mr Roberts to be taken to hospital once again. This was not an emergency case.

"The trust is saddened to hear the comments of Mrs Roberts and would urgently like to speak to her to find out more as she has not reported them so far. The trust expresses condolences to Mrs Roberts and her family for their sad loss at this difficult time."

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