"My mother-in-law's death at Dewsbury hospital"

About: Dewsbury & District Hospital / General medicine

(as a relative),

It is only now that we are able to speak about the dreadful experience we went through at Dewsbury hospital last year.

Last August my partner’s mother was taken to Dewsbury A&E after a friend called an ambulance for a suspected overdose. From arrival at A&E at 10pm to being put in intensive care 6 hours later (when we were notified) we still have no idea what happened during that time.

Upon arrival at the hospital we parked in the grounds car park to be met by a large piece of rotting meat covered in maggots. It looked similar to that of a lamb shank. The building also looked run down.

Entering the ICU we had a lot of questions and anxieties with regards to my partner’s mother’s health. However the nurses could not tell us why, what was wrong or possible recovery. We asked what happened on arrival and diagnosis? They couldn't tell us. We asked about the overdose. They still didn't know. Were blood tests done? Surely a hospital could tell us what she had taken. All we were told is that the doctor will speak to us.

3 days later the doctor finally came to speak to us. He briefly said that her breathing had deteriorated and a problem with blood clotting. We asked about the overdose. They didn't know if she had taken anything. Should they know this by now, shouldn't they have pumped her stomach on arrival?

After another 2 days in ICU nurses came to us to say they were turning the machines off the next day and they didn't know if she would die straight away or 2 days later or months. We left the hospital distressed and unable to cope with what was happening. As we left we noticed a family of ducks had made home at the fire escape glass doors on ground floor, the staff had even put a paddling pool out for them. Bird muck covered the door, windows and pavement. I began to wonder what this place was.

Bracing ourselves the next day we entered ICU to be told that she had been taken off the machines and put onto a ward. As we entered the ward a very rude nurse told us we could not see her. We went back to ICU to tell nurses there to speak to nurses on the ward to let us see her as she was dying.

On the ward we expected her to be in a side room, instead she was in an open ward with 3 healthy-ish (not dying) looking ladies sat up in bed, looking over at mother-in-law who was hooked to oxygen, made horrendous noise with each breath and unconscious.

Not only could we not grieve but she had no dignity in her last hours. No longer could we take this torture, I had to battle to get the nurses attention from gossiping with other nurses to request a side room. My request was declined.

A day later she was moved into a side room, still for those days before she passed away we had to ask nurses to give her pain relief, the response we got was that she had not asked! She was unconscious, how could she ask? Each time we entered the room she would moan trying to communicate, we knew she was in pain.

After she passed it was such a relief that no longer did she have to suffer at the hands of the NHS. Only recently did the coroner's inquest state that she died due to overdose and that unanswered questions should be taken up separately with the authorities.

Nearly a year on we can only just speak about this, especially the unknown anxieties that we suffered.

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