1. ITV Report

Fresh claims of serious neglect at Princess of Wales Hospital in Wales

Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend has been at the centre of serious patient neglect claims Photo: Google Maps

Fresh claims of serious neglect have been uncovered by a special ITV News investigation at a hospital already at the centre of a major police investigation and an independent review ordered by the Welsh Government.

Three nurses have already been arrested accused of falsifying patient records. And last week a 58-year-old man died after being left in an ambulance for four hours.

Relatives of other patients who have died at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend and a former nurse who worked there for eight years have spoken to ITV News raising deep concerns about patient care.

Pam Davies and her sister Michelle Chambers said their mother Dorothy Mead, 82, received appalling care when she was taken into A&E in 2010.

Mrs Mead was seriously ill when she arrived from her care home and needed urgent medical attention as she had breathing problems, a very fast heartbeat and hypothermia.

She was left in the resuscitation room for almost three hours and should have been seen by a senior doctor but was not.

Dorothy Mead's family claim staff at the hospital failed to provide "basic" care. Credit: Family handout

Her daughter Pam, who worked for the Ambulance Service for more than 20 years, said: "No one communicated anything to us. I was shouting to staff for help and it didn't come. Mum was scared and needed help. They just left her. The level of care was not even basic."

She went on to say: " I have pedigree cats, my sister breeds horses.....our vets are more compassionate and more dignified with our animals than what they are in the hospital.

The family says they have fought for the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board ( ABMU), which runs the hospital, to admit its mistake.

The Ombudsman upheld the family's complaint:

What has emerged from the meeting with relevant staff in post currently at the hospital is that they do not believe anything was amiss with Mrs Mead's treatment and that nothing has changed from that time to this… I find this profoundly disturbing.

– Ombudsman

Lillian Williams, 82, an amputee, was admitted to the hospital four times before she died there in August 2012. Her family say she was repeatedly neglected.

Her son Gareth Williams said: "Lillian was left Nil by Mouth on one occasion for two days, without assessment, because it was a weekend and the assessment teams didn't work on the weekends. It was nothing short of torture."

The family also claim she was left dehydrated, nurses failed to help her take her medication or check she had taken it, and they left her artificial leg on at night and she developed sores.

Lillian Williams died at Princess of Wales Hospital in August 2012. Credit: Family handout

Doctors told Mrs Williams' family she had pneumonia and that the hospital would withdraw support of all food, water and medication. Mrs Williams died four days later.

"The doctor finally stopped treating her without our consent after telling us that she was dying of pneumonia. We told him that junior doctors looking at her most recent x-rays told us there was no pneumonia. He said they were junior and he knew best and he carried on." Mr Williams said.

We sat by her bed for days watching her die without nutrition and deprived of life-saving medications. We watched her tongue swell and split and her lips crack open for want of hydration. The nurses weren't changing the hydration drip as they should have been. "

Gareth Williams said his mother suffered "the most cruel, prolonged" death. Credit: ITV News

Mr Williams and his family insisted on a post mortem being carried out.

"Her lungs were clear. There was no pneumonia. She died of a heart attack after days without nutrition and after days deprived of life saving medications for her heart,and diabetes. She was also denied steroids, she was steroid dependent, and oxygen. It was the most cruel, prolonged, unnecessarily suffering death. It haunts us. "

Paul Roberts, chief executive of the ABMU trust, wrote to Gareth and his family apologising for the poor and unacceptable care his mother received on several occasions at the hospital.

Mr Williams is now calling for a full public inquiry and says the health board must be held to account. His mother's case is also part of the ongoing police investigation.

Allan King, 70, died at the Princess of Wales Hospital in August 2011, after major bowel surgery. His partner Dorothy Wilson claims he suffered terrible treatment and neglect.

Allan King died after having major bowel surgery in August 2011. Credit: Family handout

Ms Wilson said: "He went in for major bowel surgery but we didn't expect him to die.

He was not made aware of the seriousness of the operation and complications until half an hour before the operation. How can they do that?".

Ms Wilson, who worked at the hospital as a health care assistant for 13 years, claims staff failed to communicate with Mr King or herself about what was happening.

"We had no idea what was going on and because we were not married I was treated with indifference.

"Allan was scared and was not looked after or cared for properly. His dignity was taken from him", she added.

Dorothy Wilson said her partner Allan was not cared for properly during his time at the hospital.

Ms Wilson says she had to fight to get answers from the ABMU health board to even acknowledge her complaint.

"If I went out in my car and killed someone things would automatically happen and I would be held to account. But when Allan died in the hospital nothing was done and no one was held to account. The system is so complicated and I was frightened and overwhelmed but I couldn't give up."

She took her complaint to the Ombudsman who upheld it and said the surgeon operating on Allan was "working to the upper limits of his skills."

Ms Wilson said: "Why was that surgeon allowed to work?"

Mrs Rodrigeuz-Noza said she saw an infected room not being sufficiently cleaned before it was used by other patients, and a dementia patient being roughly handled by a nurse.

Speaking exclusively to ITV News, she also claimed she saw a nurse give the patient the wrong medication:

Mrs Rodrigeuz-Noza, who is involved in tribunal proceedings against the ABMU health board, claims she tried several times to raise the alarm.

"I would fill out an incident form and later be told they had no record of it. I have kept copies of them so I have them. An internal investigation found there was not enough evidence to support my claims and in the end it all became too stressful.

"I want to speak out because I want these people to be held to account and to stop these mistakes happening again and again", she added.

ABMU health board said they were unable to comment on specific cases due to ongoing police investigations at the Princess of Wales Hospital.

A statement said:

We apologise sincerely to the patients and families who we have let down at the Princess of Wales Hospital.

While there are many examples of excellent care at the hospital, we are very aware that this has not been the case for everyone. This is clearly not acceptable. All patients have the right to expect consistent, high quality care. We are doing our utmost to ensure that this is delivered on every ward and department.

In May 2013 we invited an external team, Advancing Quality Alliance (AQuA), to review quality and safety at the Princess of Wales Hospital. AQuA is clinically led, data driven and evidence based organisation, and has a proven track record in helping hospitals provide safer and better quality care.

This was in response to serious complaints about care provided to some patients; critical Ombudsman’s reports; mortality rates, and a police investigation into allegations of falsification of records by some of our nurses. AQuA’s recommendations will be presented to our Board shortly, backed by an action plan.

While we acknowledge there is still much work to do - includingdealing with continuing high levels of pressure on emergency and urgent care - weare making progress.

– Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board

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