‘No closure’ over mum’s death

Vivienne Morley.
Vivienne Morley.

A Kirkby woman has expressed serious concerns about the way complaints are handled at King’s Mill Hospital despite it being one of the issues flagged up for improvement by the Keogh report.

Vivienne Morley (48), of Kirkby Mill View, has been pursuing a complaint about the care her late mother Jean Gillott received when she died at the hospital in October 2011.

Having contacted Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust a month after her death, Vivienne is still to receive answers to all of the questions she has asked and says she still has no closure,

“It’s totally added to the stress of the situation,” said Vivienne. “If we keep pushing I think we will get there.

“It’s so we can understand and get closure. We wanted some answers because she was fit and healthy, then 48 hours later she was dead.”

Jean, from Mansfield Woodhouse, died aged 70 after being admitted to hospital with severe abdominal pain and vomiting.

Doctors initially failed to diagnose the perforated bowel that was causing the problem and as her condition deteriorated, medical staff failed to either notice or act.

She was operated on and a large ovarian cyst was discovered as was the perforation to her bowel.

Jean was however so ill that she died shortly after the operation.

Vivienne complained to King’s Mill, but has received unsatisfactory and delayed replies. It took three months for the hospital to provide a copy of her mum’s medical notes.

Throughout the complaints process, Vivienne said that she has found it difficult to get through to the right people on the phone, has had to wait longer than the expected amount of time for responses to letters and has found replies full of inaccuracies and misinformation.

“There’s a definite feeling that you ring them up or write them a letter, they say they will look into it and get back to you, but they just put the phone down and do nothing,” she said.

Sir Bruce Keogh’s inspection of Sherwood Forest hospital trust flagged up the ‘significant backlog’ of complaints that it had outstanding as being one of the main issues it faced, finding the complaints process to be ‘not fit for purpose’.

Vivienne is concerned that lessons are not being learnt from the problems raised in patient complaints because the same errors in care seem to be being made.

In her mum’s case, these problems included fluid and pain management, staffing levels at weekends and problems with the early warning system used to identify when patients deteriorate.

“You hope by doing this you stop it happening to somebody else. Then when Keogh comes out, you find out it’s happened to other people and is still happening to other people,” she said.

“The Trust seems to be going through the motions but actually it’s not changing anything in any particular way.”

Paul O’Connor, Chief Executive of the hospital trust, said: “We pride ourselves on the quality of care we provide to the many thousands of patients who use our services. Our recent Family and Friends Test scores are 4.6 out of a possible 5, demonstrating that the vast majority of our patients are satisfied with their care.

“However, we are not complacent and we realise we do not always get it right. Our staff have been in contact with Mrs Morley for some time now, and have made every endeavour to respond to her concerns with meetings, telephone conversations and letters.

“The backlog of complaints referred to in the Keogh Review has already been dealt with. We continue to make improvements to our complaints systems, including further improvements to our telephone system to ensure we are able to respond to complaints and queries efficiently and appropriately.

“We have already arranged a further meeting with Mrs Morley to further discuss her mother’s care and will continue to liaise with Mrs Morley directly.”