NHS Trust: Grandmother 'probably would not have died' had she been admitted


An NHS Trust criticised over its failure to send a grandmother for a potentially life-saving CT scan amid "highly unsatisfactory" weekend arrangements has said it is "deeply sorry".

Lawyers for Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust in Kent said it is now acknowledged Sandra Wood probably would not have died had she been admitted to hospital.

A coroner ruled in February that Mrs Wood, 69, died of natural causes "as a consequence of the failure by Tunbridge Wells Hospital to correctly diagnose and treat her".

North west Kent coroner Roger Hatch said Mrs Wood should have had a CT scan "as a matter of urgency" after her GP referred her to the hospital with possible bowel obstruction late on the afternoon of Friday April 17 last year.

But Mrs Wood and her partner were told that "hospital policy" meant she was unlikely to receive the scan at the weekend, and that it could only be arranged for an emergency.

Instead, doctors discharged the mother-of-three late that Friday night with a prescription after diagnosing her with a urinary tract infection and constipation.

Retired shop assistant Mrs Wood, from Burham, near Rochester, was told she could return to hospital after the weekend, on Monday April 20, for a CT scan.

But Mr Hatch said delaying the scan until Monday proved "critical". She collapsed at home and died at Maidstone Hospital on Saturday April 18.

The coroner said it was "highly unsatisfactory" that facilities for a CT scan at Tunbridge Wells Hospital were not routinely available without having to go through a number of steps.

He told the hearing that he planned to issue a Regulation 28 report in a bid to prevent another patient dying in similar circumstances.

Lawyers for the Trust said in a letter this month to those representing Mrs Wood's family that the care given to her fell below the required standard.

She should have been admitted to hospital for further investigations and, had this happened, she would probably have had surgery before her condition deteriorated, they added.

The Trust's lawyers also said their client acknowledged "that on the balance of probabilities, had Mrs Wood been admitted to hospital she probably would not have died".

Mrs Wood's family are to receive a written apology from the Trust for "shortcomings in care", and plans are under way to reach a settlement.

Her partner Richard said all he wanted was an apology for the "appalling treatment". He said: "I hope that by speaking out we can help ensure another family doesn't suffer like we have.

"Nothing will bring Sandra back but I hope my family and I will be able to move on with our lives when the case has settled."

Tim Deeming, a clinical negligence specialist with Slater and Gordon, which represented Mrs Wood's family, said her death should never have happened.

He said: "Whilst we will achieve some justice for Sandra's family, we also need wider reassurance as to what positive steps have been put in place following our investigation and the failures identified, especially in the light of the evidence heard at the inquest."

A Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust spokesman said: "We would like to extend our apologies to Mrs Wood's family and are deeply sorry that Mrs Wood did not receive the high standards of care we would expect.

"We will be writing to the family to apologise for the shortcomings in care that have been identified. We have reviewed the areas where Mrs Wood's care fell below the required standards and are acting on them."