Grandmother death : NHS failings

Two NHS trusts in Devon have admitted failings following the death of a grandmother from a massive brain haemorrhage. Christine Smith died in July 2009 when doctors failed to recognise her 'red flag' symptoms and give her life-saving surgery.

Full report: Grandmother dies of brain haemorrhage after doctors fail to spot symptoms

A grandmother who died from a massive brain haemorrhage could have been saved, were it not for a catalogue of errors from two of the region's biggest hospitals. Christine Smith from Braunton had symptoms which should have alerted doctors.

But Derriford in Plymouth and North Devon District in Barnstaple both failed to spot the seriousness of her condition. She died three days before a scheduled hospital appointment.

"We took this incident very seriously" say NHS

I absolutely understand how devastating this must have been for the family and would like to apologise once more for the failure to diagnose in this very sad case.We took this incident very seriously and carried out a full internal investigation, sharing the outcome face-to-face with the family in 2010.

– Dr Alison Diamond, Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust

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NHS Trusts apologise for failings

In a joint statement, the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust and Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust apologised to Mrs Smith's family.

Both the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust and Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust are committed to the highest standards of healthcare and all those involved with the care and treatment of Christine Smith profoundly regret that opportunities were missed to provide her with the care she required.

– Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust & Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust

Doctors were trying to "brush under carpet"

Mrs Smith was first taken to the North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple Credit: ITV News West Country

Mrs Smith, from Braunton, had first gone to the North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple with persistent headaches, vertigo and numbness in the face. They were symptoms of two deadly enlarged blood vessels putting pressure on her brain.

When the aneurisms were detected, the mother-of-four was referred to Plymouth's Derriford Hospital.

Mrs Smith's daughter, Beverley Hopkins, was determined to discover what had happened with her mother's care at both the North Devon Healthcare NHS Trust and Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust and took legal action.

"We were all devastated by her death but when I wrote to the hospital trusts and health ombudsman to find out what had happened and they tried to fob me off for two years it was another kick in the teeth.

"It generally felt they were trying to brush it under the carpet and after getting nowhere for two years I decided legal action was my only option.

"Mum trusted she was in the best hands..."

Mum trusted that she was in the best hands and when she was told there wasn't anything seriously wrong with her there was of course no reason for her not to believe it.

It breaks my heart to think of the pain she was in and how much she suffered and the fact that more wasn't done to help her.

– Beverley Hopkins, Mrs Smith's mother

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