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Tory Conference: Mid Staffs NHS scandal victim's daughter wants lessons learned

By David Cosgrove | Stafford | Health | Published:

The daughter of a Mid Staffordshire NHS scandal victim has said she is haunted by her failure to keep her mother safe.

Debra Hazeldine received a standing ovation at the Conservative Party conference yesterday after she described in detail the harrowing struggle faced by her 'best friend and soul mate'.

Ms Hazeldine, from Stafford, said she had been 'sworn at, spat at and shouted at' as she sought justice following her mother's death from a superbug.

And she urged health bosses to learn lessons from the scandal – which saw hundreds more patients die than would be expected because of poor care between 2005 and 2009.

Ms Hazeldine's mother Ellen Linstead was diagnosed with bone cancer in March 2006 and admitted to Stafford Hospital for physiotherapy after suffering a fall.

She contracted the superbug Clostridium difficile (C.diff) while at the hospital.

Speaking at the conference in Manchester, Ms Hazeldine said: "What I witnessed on those wards I will take to my grave."

She recalled entering the hospital ward and hearing her 67-year-old mother screaming and said: "I dropped my bag and I ran to her.

"She was half on a commode and half on the floor screaming in pain.

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"She grabbed my hand and she said, 'Please Deb, don't let me die in here' – and I failed categorically to be able to save her or to be able to keep her safe.

"That's something that haunts my every waking and sleeping hours."

Ms Hazeldine added there was no dignity after her mother's death in 2006, explaining the infections meant she could not see her body at the undertaker's.

She said: "I desperately needed to be able to see my mum out of that hospital setting, even if just for a few moments.

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"I needed to be able to say I was with my mum to the very end, however bad it got.

"I had a few moments with my mum, and the last memory of my mum is her head protruding from a body bag.

"I was unable to hold her hand or kiss her forehead gently but I had to be able to say 'I'm so sorry I let you down, I'm so sorry I couldn't keep you safe'.

"Then I was told my mum would be buried in the sealed body bag because she was at risk of contaminating the ground she was going into.

"My inner peace left me that day and I knew I had to try and speak out and give my mum a voice."

David Cosgrove

By David Cosgrove
Deputy Chief Reporter - @davidcosgrove_

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