Advising with empathy and experience

Serious neglect at two Welsh hospitals.


Welsh conservative leader, Andrew RT Davies has called for an inquiry following allegations that an elderly patient was subjected to serious neglect at two Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board hospitals. As part of a BBC investigation it was revealed that an elderly woman was admitted to Neath Port Talbot Hospital and the Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend on three occasions between August 2010 and November 2012. She died in November 2012.

During her first admittance her family complained to the health board about her care. The board took six months to respond and then said it would carry out a Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) investigation.

During an interview with BBC Wales one family member labelled the care as “appalling”.

“Quite often I’d go in to visit her and I would find she had been left nil by mouth for several days until she was weak and wasn’t able to lift a glass of water to her mouth, she was dehydrated.”

We sat by her bedside until her tongue swelled up and cracked and her lips split open for want of hydration…She became delirious at first, then barely conscious, almost coma-like.”

In 2012 the woman was readmitted and suffered similar neglect. It was when the family reported their concerns to social services that they learnt that no POVA investigation had taken place. A POVA investigation was finally initiated after the complaint to social services. A number of allegations were then proved.

It was found that the board failed to give proper care to the woman’s amputated leg despite family members telling staff how to provide appropriate care.

“When I complained that she was having unnecessary sedation, they said it was because she was screaming at night. When I asked her why she was screaming at night, she told me told me that they hadn’t taken her leg off in the two weeks that she’d been there.”

The woman later died in the Princess of Wales Hospital in November 2012. The family were told by staff that she was dying from pneumonia and because of that they were stopping her medication. However a post mortem examination revealed that she died of a heart attack, and there was no chronic disease in her lungs.

Andrew RT Davies, the Welsh conservatives’ leader said mortality rates in some district general hospitals in Wales were “spiking at unacceptable levels.”

“I believe we do need a Keogh inquiry similar to what has gone on in England to address the very real concerns in our hospitals so that we can have confidence that health boards, clinicians and families are having their concerns addressed and structures are put in place so we don’t get some of the terrible stories that are emanating out of England.”

Peter Tryndall, the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales said “It’s absolutely tragic for the individual and for the family, and I think although there are lots of people who have very good experiences of the NHS in Wales, there are still too many cases of this kind occurring.” Tryndall also revealed that there had been a 30% rise in NHS complaints in a year.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board apologised for its short comings and said the case was completely unacceptable. It said their staff have committed to improving standards through increased training