Unite Legal Services investigates hospital following death of member’s mother

Following an investigation by Unite Legal Services an NHS Trust has paid £9,000 compensation to the family of an 89-year-old woman who died after being given inadequate care at hospital.

The member’s mother, Mrs Dorothy Rennie, was admitted to hospital on the 10 April 2014 after being referred by her GP for treatment following a series of severe urinary infections, which had begun to affect her mental health and mobility.

The hospital placed Mrs Rennie into an assessment ward but staff did not medically assess her needs. Two weeks later she was transferred to another ward - again without being assessed - in violation of a standard requirement for patient transfers.

Without a full medical evaluation of her condition, Mrs Rennie’s mental health continued to decline and her complex needs were not taken into account by the nurses on the ward. As a result, her pain relief medication was administered only when she showed signs of distress, rather than at regular times.

On the 19 April 2014, Mrs Rennie was taken to the commode by a nurse who did not return. Mrs Rennie tried to take herself back to bed but fell and fractured her femur while doing so.

The following day, surgeons operated on her broken leg and she began to show signs of recovery. However, eight days later she developed a pulmonary embolism and died.

Following her death, her son, Alexander Rennie, sought advice from Unite Legal Services.

Alexander Rennie said: “It was so awful to see our mother in so much pain in her final days. We tried to explain time and again that her mental abilities were declining but the staff didn’t seem to take any notice.

“When she had her fall we were promised a meeting – but that never happened. When she died they again promised to meet us, but we are still yet to hear from them about this. We’re grateful to Unite Legal Services for helping us to shine a light on what happened and identifying where mistakes were made by the Trust. We hope they will learn serious lessons.”

Malcolm Green, of Unite the Union, said: “The Coroner found that the standard of care given to Mrs Rennie fell below the expected standard. The hospital admitted that there were eight patients on the ward at the time, two of which had been assessed as needing ‘one to one’ nursing care, yet only three nurses were present on the ward.

“Clearly, the hospital has a serious staffing issue that contributed to our member’s mother’s death. We want our members to know that Unite Legal Services is here for them during tragic events like this and can provide support when family members are injured, or as sadly happened here, pass away.”