Views & Reviews Personal View

An unsafe ward

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 25 February 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1243
  1. Judy Shakespeare, retired general practitioner, Oxford
  1. judy.shakespeare{at}

This is the story of how my father died in a modern British hospital. In late March 2012 he organised his own 90th birthday party, where he stood and delivered an articulate and funny after dinner speech. He was a retired anaesthetist living alone and independently in a small village in the north of England. By the beginning of May he was dead, having sustained a fractured femur in hospital (not Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust).

He had significant comorbidities, including critical aortic stenosis. In mid-April he was admitted for cardiac assessment and deemed fit for cardiac surgery. Two days after discharge he was re-admitted under a gastroenterologist after a gastrointestinal bleed. His death happened after a fall eight days later.

I believe that a lack of basic care in hospital led to his fall and death. I wrote to the hospital trust, including a personal narrative of events, and I asked questions. The trust has carried out a serious untoward incident review, and I have discussed the outcomes with the trust; it has not disputed any of my comments about his care. I have no interest in litigation, only in improving the …

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