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Family say their world has been turned 'upside down' by failings at NHS D&G

Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary Credit: ITV Border

A family from Dumfries and Galloway say their lives have been turned upside down due to a number of failings made by staff in Ward 7 at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary.

Matilda Shortt was rushed to Accident and Emergency in January 2015 after collapsing on the bathroom floor. When she arrived at DGRI she was admitted to Ward 7. Due to the fact that she had previously suffered a stroke, she was kept in for overnight observations.

Mrs Shortt was supposed to be monitored every two hours, so doctors could see whether her stroke-like symptoms were changing.

Her daughter, Claire Roberts, called the hospital in the morning to check how she was.

"I was told mum had had a 'comfortable night'. I wanted to hear from the consultant though. It must have been about 20 minutes later that the main consultant phoned me and she sounded really quite concerned.

"She started saying how mum had had another significant stroke and i said, but i phone this morning and they told me that she'd had a comfortable night and that she was ok."

– Claire Roberts
Matilda Short Credit: ITV Border

Mrs Roberts says this is when she started to question the care her mother had received on the night she was admitted.

She spent weeks going through her mum's notes and soon discovered some worrying facts.

Her mother was supposed to be on two-hourly observations, however, on closer inspection it transpired that a period of more than five hours had passed without Matilda having any checks.

This was despite the fact that staff had tended to Mrs Shortt when she came off her commode during the night and needed assistance getting back up.

"They'd noted that her speech was slurred and they'd noted this and noted that but they never reported it to anyone. They never asked for her to be observed.

"They never done any of the stroke tests they were meant to do- they done nothing. She went back to bed and suffered a major stroke."

– Claire Roberts
Claire Roberts and her mum, Matilda Shortt Credit: ITV News Border

Mrs Roberts decided to take her concerns to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman. They took 12 months to come back with their response.

They upheld all three of her complaints and identified serious failings by staff on Ward 7.

The SPSO report given to Mrs Roberts Credit: ITV Border

Complaint one was regarding the lack of medical care provided to Matilda , including failing to administer a clot-busting injection or ask for guidance or second opinion from a specialist.

The second complaint was to do with her nursing care- after staff failed to monitor her appropriately or observe her every two hours.

Complaint three was regarding the way staff communicated with Claire- telling her that Matilda had had a comfortable night, when in actual fact she'd suffered a major stroke.

Matilda now has carers in three times a day, she has problems with her speech and says her independence has gone. She spent five months in hospital.

"I hate not talking and it was really depressing me and i didn't want to be there. I said i wanted to die. I'd like to be able to go into my own kitchen, cook my own tea, cook my husband's tea, bake make my grandson something when he comes.

"It's just everything i cant do and i try and not to let it get me down but it does sometimes. It's completely changed my life. It's terrible."

– Matilda Shortt

ITV Border approached the Board at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary and asked a series of questions, including:

"Has anybody from Ward 7 been held responsible for the failings identified by the SPSO?

"What lessons have been learned?"

"How can you re-assure the public in Dumfries and Galloway that failings like these will not happen again?"

NHS D&G responded with the following statement:

“We can confirm that we have issued an apology and that we are taking forward the SPSO recommendations.”

– Spokesperson, NHS D&G

The recommendations in the report include informing staff of the failings found and reviewing the way they monitor stroke patients. The family say they've no confidence left.

"We don't have the trust anymore and it has completely changed my life, and my husband's life and my sons' life. I just wouldn't like to see another family to go through it."

– Claire Roberts

Matilda says that humour is what keeps her going. But that for herself and her family, no amount of sorrys or recommendations can give her back the life she once had.