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NMC Hearing Sees Nurse Cautioned For Gross Negligence Relating To Diabetic Woman's Care

Husband Speaks Of Fears That The Failures In His Wife’s Care Could Be Repeated


The widower of a diabetic woman who died because she was not given a simple blood test has spoken of his concerns that the same tragedy could be repeated after the nurse in charge of her care was not struck off at a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) hearing yesterday (27 March).

David Pitt, backed by his lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, have called on Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust to confirm exactly what steps have been taken following his wife Margaret’s death in November 2010 to protect the safety of other diabetic patients.

The 55-year-old, from Redditch, had lived with ‘type one’ diabetes for 30 years, but suffered an irreversible brain injury and died after the nursing team at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch failed to implement a thorough care plan that would have seen her glucose levels monitored and acted upon accordingly.

Lead nurse Jackie Charman admitted failing to make the necessary checks at an NMC hearing in London this week, which culminated in her receiving a five-year caution order and told she must do further training if she returns to work. She was not struck off the register, however.

The hearing was the final conclusion in David’s battle for justice, which in August last year saw him receive an undisclosed settlement and formal apology from the Trust secured by Irwin Mitchell. It followed an admission of liability that there was a failure to check Margaret’s blood glucose on two occasions after she had been admitted to hospital.

The Trust also admitted had these checks taken place, the hypoglycaemia (critically low blood sugar levels) would have been detected sooner and Margaret’s death would have been avoided.

When summing up following a five day inquest in June 2012, the Deputy Coroner described Sister Charman’s actions as a ‘gross failure to provide basic medical treatment’ and a narrative verdict was recorded.

David, 63, who was married to Margaret for 35 years, said: “I think of Maggie every day and will never take for granted the priceless things she gave me.  Not just three wonderful children, but just as importantly, the very best years of her life.

“My family and I are frustrated, hurt and disappointment as we have been given no reason about why the NMC made the decision not to remove Jackie Charman from the nursing register.

“We hoped we would get closure yesterday in the hearing, but knowing she can be in charge of other patient’s care again leaves us struggling to move on.

“We can only hope that the training she will have to undergo to begin nursing again ensures she learns from what went wrong and that no other family will be left in the same situation as us.

“The Trust has repeatedly said that lessons have been learnt, however we have not been told exactly what action has been taken to improve the treatment diabetic patients are offered. We feel that this is the least we deserve – nothing can bring Margaret back, but knowing her death was not in vain will give us some peace of mind.”

Sara Burns, is a Partner and medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office.

Expert Opinion
We are disappointed for Mr Pitt and his family that they did not get the result they wanted yesterday at the NMC hearing.

“From investigating the failures relating to Mrs Pitt’s care, whilst Jackie Charman was the lead nurse and made a series of undeniable errors, she was also not the only individual at fault.

“Like Mr Pitt, we would like to see reassurance from the Trust about exactly what improvements have been made by the Trust in the treatment of diabetic patients to ensure the same tragedy can never be repeated.

“We welcome confirmation that it has increased training and funding in that particular area of care but Mr Pitt deserves to know what systems and guidelines have now been introduced that would protect a patient from suffering the same gross negligence as his wife.”
Sara Burns, Partner


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