THE family of a 78-year-old patient at a Sheffield hospital have been given an apology after they complained of a lack of dignity as he died while meals were being served to other people on a busy ward.
“It was just so awful,” said Lesley Seaman, whose father, Gordon, died in the Northern General.
“People were looking at us, eating their tea, and a nurse was shouting, ‘Does anybody want more pudding?’.
“They pulled a curtain around us, but one of the other patients had dementia, and he kept getting in through the curtain. Afterwards we had to go into a toilet just to be on our own.”
Hospital managers said patients receiving end-of-life care would normally be given single rooms, but none were available on this occasion because of ‘infection control’.
Mr Seaman, a retired painter and decorator, was taken to the Northern General after collapsing at home in Malin Bridge, and he died the next day.
His daughter, who lives in Hillsborough, said it was clear soon after he was admitted that he would not survive.
“We were taken into the family room, and the doctor said he wasn’t going to make it through the rest of the day,” she said. “Then while he was taking his last breath they were all having their tea.
“I said to one of the nurses: ‘Can we have a private room?’ She said: ‘We were going to put him on a different ward, but there’s no point now’.
“There must have been an option to give him his own room if they were thinking about doing it.”
Lesley, a confectionery factory worker, said her dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a decade ago and the disease returned around five months ago.
She said the family, including her mother, Betty, aged 80, felt they ‘didn’t want to stay’ after he died on February 28.
“If it was in a private room we would have had longer with him. My mum could have stayed in for a while on her own, and we could have said our goodbyes individually.”
Chris Morley, deputy chief nurse at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I would like to offer our sincere condolences to Mr Seaman’s family.
“We do endeavour to move patients receiving end-of-life care into single rooms wherever possible. Regrettably, on this occasion, the single rooms were already occupied for infection control reasons.”
Mr Morley added: “We apologise if Mr Seaman’s family did not receive the usual bereavement support we offer to relatives, which would include being taken to a quiet area to grieve in private. We have tried to contact Mr Seaman’s daughter to apologise and invite her to meet with us to discuss her experience further.”