A woman who was allowed to walk into a hospital ward to find her husband dead is calling for improvements to end of life care.

Ann Booth left her husband John in the Royal Infirmary to go home to pick up some things but when she returned, she found her husband dead in the bed.

Despite being aware of Mr Booth’s passing, no-one in the ward contacted Mrs Booth or stopped her on re-entering the ward to find her husband.

She described her shock of walking into find her husband with his mouth open and “obviously not attended to”.

It is one of a number of issues about Mr Booth’s care she has raised with health bosses.

Glasgow Times:

Mrs Booth said she wants to highlight her case to try to ensure other people do not have to go through the same experiences.

She said she wants to ensure people can “die with dignity”.

John, who was 71, was being cared for at home after being discharged from the Beatson Centre in Glasgow where he had been receiving chemotherapy and palliative care for lung cancer.

Days after he was discharged, Mrs Booth contacted the cancer helpline for advice about caring and a doctor decided to admit Mr Booth to hospital, against the family’s wishes for him to remain at home or be cared for in a hospice.

As it was in the evening he was unable to be admitted to the Beatson.
From that point, a number of concerns have been raised by his wife about his care.

Mrs Booth has been seeking answers, and an investigation into her husband’s admission and subsequent care since her husband died in June 2017.

She made an official complaint to Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board.

Still not satisfied with the health board’s response, Mrs Booth took her case to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

Glasgow Times:

The Ombudsman however, this year, said it would not take the case forward for further investigation leaving Mrs Booth still seeking answers and improvements.

Mrs Booth has raised concerns about unsuitable end of life care, safety issues in the ward, insufficient diagnosis information and ultimately not being contacted and not being able to be with her husband when he passed away, causing her “shock and trauma”.

Mrs Booth said neither she or her husband were informed of a diagnosis of pneumonia on admission to the Royal Infirmary and she only found out it was a cause of death when she received the death certificate.

Mrs Booth feels her husband was not in the right environment for his condition and stage of the cancer and he should not have been admitted to a care of the elderly ward with others with infections.

The health board said he was not disadvantaged by the admission.

While in hospital he was in a ward with others in a “confused state” and one patient tried to get into Mr Booth’s bed, for which the health board accepted and apologised for.

The family requested a private room but it was not granted and later the health board said in a letter that “where possible single rooms are assigned to patients who are dying” but that the design of the building at the Royal Infirmary is “severely restricted”  and that this not always possible. 

Glasgow Times:

Mrs Booth said: “It was horrendous what happened with John. My husband died and nobody called to tell me.

“I can’t do anything about what happened to John but don’t let it happen to others.

“He didn’t go anywhere without me and I wasn’t there with him when he died. 

“We wanted him to be at home but they said no.

“I will never forgive myself for allowing him to go into hospital.”
She said she has been left traumatised by the by thoughts that her husband died alone and in sever distress and pain.

Isobel Neil, a director with the health board, wrote to Mrs Booth and said it was not able to establish why she was not contacted when her husband died despite numbers being clearly documented.

She said: “Given your husband’s deterioration before you left him that day, your contact details should have been confirmed as being correct and I am so sorry this did not happen, leading to the  distressing way in which  you were told of your husband’s death.”

Mrs Booth states she was not told by anyone that John had died before she re entered the ward.

Ms Neil for the Health Board admitted Mr Booth’s body should have been prepared and it should have been ensured he looked “cared for” before she arrived.

A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “We are very sorry for Mrs Booth’s loss of her husband and our sympathies go out to her. Our team reviewed and acted on the concerns Mrs Booth raised with us regarding her husband’s care and ensured lessons were learned around end of life care and communicating to families about the loss of a loved one. 

“Since meeting with Mrs Booth in April 2018, a new Bereavement Centre, funded by Macmillan Cancer Support, has opened at Glasgow Royal Infirmary. We continue to support staff to improve their skills when caring for dying patients to ensure we are doing everything we can to support families at these difficult times.

“The SPSO replied to Mrs Booth that it wouldn’t be investigating as it said it would be unlikely to achieve any significant outcomes for you or lead to further learning for the board that has not already been identified by them through their own investigation of your complaint.”

When the Glasgow Times contacted the SPSO the Ombudsman replied: “As our legislation states that we must conduct our casework in private, I cannot confirm or deny if we are investigating a particular complaint, nor do we comment on individual cases.

“Sorry I cannot be of more assistance.”