‘My mum died after 10 days without any food,’ claims Sheffield woman

Joan Wood known as Betty
Joan Wood known as Betty

A FORMER World War Two Land Girl died after 10 days without food in hospital, an inquest heard.

Joan Wood - who served in the Women’s Land Army before working for John Lewis in Sheffield for 25 years - was allowed to become malnourished at the Northern General Hospital, her daughter Lori claims.

A pathologist and a doctor told an inquest in Sheffield that malnutrition could have hindered 83-year-old Mrs Wood’s ability to fight infection which killed her.

In the first day of a two-day inquest, 52-year-old Miss Wood criticised the standard of care given to her mother - known to family as Betty.

She said medics also failed to fit a feeding tube which could have allowed her mother to take in nutrition.

Mrs Wood had been admitted to the Northern General for the first time at the beginning January last year, after fracturing a hip in a fall at Hazeldene Nursing Home on Poole Road in Darnall.

She underwent hip replacement surgery, and was discharged on January 20.

But she was back in hospital eight days later when part of a prosthesis she had fitted collapsed.

Almost a fortnight then passed as doctors spent 13 days trying to solve the problem with pain relief and physiotherapy - while, her daughter says, her food and drink intake plummeted.

Medics eventually operated to remove her hip implant and clean the infected wound.

But Mrs Wood, who had dementia, died on April 1 after infection spread to her lungs and caused her to develop pneumonia.

Her daughter, who lives on City Road, Sheffield, broke down as orthopaedic geriatrician Dr Philippa May described her mother’s nutritional state prior to surgery as ‘poor’.

Questioning the doctor in court, Miss Wood asked if staff shortages at the hospital could have prevented nurses from being able to feed all their patients on the ward.

Dr May said: “She was confused and agitated. Some days she would eat better than others, so it was hard to tell.

“There is a very high demand on nursing staff. There are a lot of elderly patients, and that is why they have feeding charts. I would find it difficult to comment on staff shortages.”

Miss Wood replied: “She hadn’t eaten for 10 days before that operation.”

Coroner David Urpeth also heard Miss Wood had agreed to allow her mum to be fitted with a feeding tube before the operation, something which never happened.

Dr Richard Gibson, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon who treated Betty after her second admission, said: “When a patient has difficulty with oral intake, a tube is one of the ways we give them food. I don’t know why she was not given one.”

The inquest continues today.