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Stafford Hospital blamed for death

Staffordshire | News | Published:

A diabetic patient at the scandal-hit Stafford Hospital died because of a "gross failure to provide basic care" - an inquest has found.

A diabetic patient at the scandal-hit Stafford Hospital died because of a "gross failure to provide basic care" - an inquest has found.

Gillian Astbury, aged 66, of Mavis Road, Hednesford, fell into a diabetic coma after she was admitted in April 2007.

A two-day inquest at Stafford's County Buildings heard nurses had failed to give her insulin injections to treat her Type 1 diabetes.

The inquest was told some of the nursing staff were not informed that Mrs Astbury was diabetic and some said they were too busy to check the patient notes at the foot of her bed.

A ten-member jury yesterday returned a narrative verdict, believing the death was contributed to by a failure of nursing staff to record Mrs Astbury's blood sugar levels, communicate properly with each other and read clinical notes.

They also added that low staffing levels, poor training and inadequate record-keeping had played a part - and found the shortcomings amounted to a "gross failure to provide basic care."

In its verdict, the jury said: "We are concerned that the standards of nursing fell well short of the Nursing and Midwifery Council's code of conduct.

"We are satisfied that there were serious shortcomings in the systems in place."

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Antony Sumara, chief executive of the hospital, has apologised for Mrs Astbury's care and bosses insist improvements have been made.

But, following the verdict, South Staffordshire coroner Andrew Haigh said: "It is still not clear to me how effectively these improvements are monitored.

"I do propose writing to the hospital to inquire."

Speaking at a press conference after the hearing, Mrs Astbury's daughter Catherine Beeston, accused bosses at the trust of putting cost-cutting above her mother's life.

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She said: "I don't think they have taken into account the risk they're putting on patients' lives.

"They were focused completely on saving money - and it was at the cost of my mum's life."

She also blamed the nurses involved with her mother's treatment for not following proper procedures, adding: "To be honest, they are a bit of a disgrace to their profession.

"They let my mum down."

Barrister Simon Michael, who represented the family at the inquest, said: "In more than 30 years at the Bar, I've not come across anything like this.

"This was a complete failure of all systems, all methods of defence and, on top of that, individual failings by individual nurses.

"It is without doubt the worst case I've come across of its type."

The family are still pursuing civil legal action against the trust and a claim under the Human Rights Act.

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