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Family Of Dementia Patient Take Legal Action Over “Appalling And Degrading” Treatment At The Hands Of Scandal-Hit Southern Health

Elderly Man Was Found Severely Dehydrated, Malnourished And Partially Clothed When Family Visited Him at Lymington Hospital, Hampshire

16.02.2017

The family of an elderly dementia patient are taking legal action against scandal-hit NHS Trust, Southern Health, after the “appalling and degrading” treatment he suffered while at Lymington Hospital.

Cyril Simms, who died in December shortly after his 90th birthday, was found by his horrified daughter Jacqueline partially clothed, severely dehydrated and malnourished when she visited him at the Hampshire hospital in January 2015.

Jacqueline instructed expert medical negligence lawyers Irwin Mitchell on behalf of her father. While his death is not linked to his time at Lymington Hospital, Southern Health has admitted that mistakes were made in his care and the family hopes lessons will be learned to improve conditions for others in future.

Cyril from Lymington, a Burma veteran and former engineer of 51 years, had been admitted to Lymington Hospital on January 11, 2015 after Jacqueline and partner Derek Pettit received a worried phone call from Cyril’s wife saying he was unwell. When they visited they found him confused and unable to use his left leg and arm.

Fearing he had recently suffered a stroke, Derek, a retired doctor, contacted out of hours medics who arranged for Cyril to be admitted to the Medical Assessment Unit at Lymington Hospital before being transferred to Longbeech Ward, by which point he had developed pneumonia.

But Jacqueline said that, not only did doctors fail to run tests for a stroke, not diagnosing Cyril for 10 days, her father’s stay at the New Forest hospital only served to exacerbate his condition. Cyril began to develop bedsores within three days at the unit and Jacqueline says she often found him on her daily visits in a chair facing the wall, in various states of undress.

The family claims Cyril was left solid food on his bedside table, which he was physically unable to eat, or cups of water which, due to his weakened state, he was unable to pick up, leaving him severely dehydrated.

Nurses also left the frail patient to walk to the bathroom unaided, despite his medical notes deeming him at significant risk of falling.

Eleri Davies, an expert medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, representing Cyril, said: “What Cyril experienced during his three month stay at Lymington Hospital was nothing short of a distressing and degrading ordeal brought about by a catalogue of hideous errors.

“As a 90-year-old dementia sufferer having suffered a suspected stroke, Cyril was the very definition of vulnerable and the level of care he received went beyond poor.

“Now that the NHS Trust has admitted liability for his condition we hope that lessons will be learned to prevent anyone else suffering such appalling treatment.”

In a letter to Irwin Mitchell on February 2 this year, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust admitted that staff at the hospital incorrectly scored Cyril as low-risk when assessing malnutrition levels when he first arrived. They accepted also that when Cyril was moved to the Deerleap Ward, a specialist stroke ward, ten days later the assessment was re-done and recorded Cyril as high-risk.

The Trust admissions also include an inadequate assessment of the elderly patient’s pressure areas on admission and failure to provide him with a pressure relieving mattress and adequate oral hygiene until his ward transfer to Deerleap Ward.

The Trust denies there was a delay in diagnosing Cyril’s stroke.

Jacqueline, from Somerset, said: “I am incredibly upset and angry that my father who was so vulnerable and frail, could suffer such appalling and degrading treatment at the hands of those were in charge with his care. He was a quiet, kind man, a Burma veteran who deserved so much more than this lack of care and compassion

"He was not the same after his hospital stay. Rather than live out his days in his own home with my mother as we had hoped, he had to go in to a care home which is heart-breaking in any circumstance.

“To think that this could happen to anyone else is a hideous thought and I hope, by taking action against the Trust, changes are made to ensure no one suffers as my poor father did."

If you or a loved one has suffered elder abuse whilst in hospital, our medical negligence lawyers could help you claim compensation. See our Elder Abuse Compensation Claims page for more information.