MICHAEL Northcott is demanding improved patient care after his elderly father was attacked at the Great Western Hospital in the middle of the night – an assault staff failed to report to the family, he has claimed.
John Northcott, 87, was admitted to hospital in November 2013 after suffering a heart attack. The father-of-three, who was partially-sighted, deaf and was also being treated for leukaemia and prostate cancer, died of pneumonia at the Mercury Ward on February 10.
His stay was described as “frightening and nightmarish” by his son Michael, 58, of Pinehurst, and culminated in Mr Northcott being attacked by another patient in the early hours of the morning.
During the assault, the patient, who believed Mr Northcott to be a burglar, hit him repeatedly in the chest and arms before another young patient came to his rescue and pulled the assailant away.
The young man then spent the rest of the night by Mr Northcott’s side comforting him.
But Michael alleged he was not notified of the incident and only discovered what had happened during a visit to his shaken father the following afternoon.
Despite staff’s claims they had contacted the family that morning, neither he nor his two sisters received calls from the hospital, he said.
“My father was attacked by a patient at 2am but no contact was made with the family and I only found out when I visited in the afternoon,” said the retired BMW employee.
“We were told the patient thought he was a burglar and tried to break his arms and started hitting him in the chest. “When I went there in the afternoon, my dad was crying. He was in pain and he was scared. “It was lucky there was a youngish lad there who stopped the patient.
“They said they didn’t think there was a need to contact me at 2am. They said they had contacted the family in the morning but they didn’t call me or my sisters.
“They didn’t seem to think it was a big deal. My dad was terribly frightened. It was just an awful experience.
“In my wildest dreams I never thought something like that could have happened in a hospital.”
Poor support from staff did little to ease the family’s concerns about their father’s safety and wellbeing, he claimed.
“It was just unbelievable and I want to fight the cause of elderly people who can’t speak for themselves,” he added. “My father definitely didn’t get what he deserved. It was a nightmare.
“He was left in the commode for 45 minutes at a time and it took them between 10 and 15 minutes to answer my dad’s call button. He was put in isolation because he got a sickness bug and there was no working call button there.
“They have not carried out their duty of care. I want to see a system where there is a duty of care to all patients and consideration to the patients and their families. How can they treat anybody like that? “My dad couldn’t defend himself. I just want better care for everybody.”
Toni Lynch, directorate head of nursing for unscheduled care at the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said the hospital was determined to stop such incidents happening again.
“The trust takes all complaints very seriously and ensures they are thoroughly investigated,” she said. “We have apologised to Mr Northcott and have been in contact with him about the investigation to look at what happened, and what actions need to be taken to prevent it happening again.
“We want all of our patients to experience compassionate, high-quality care, in a safe environment and it is clearly disappointing for everyone when we don’t meet these standards.
“Mr Northcott has met with members of the nursing team and we will be meeting again in the next month to keep him updated.”