Son of hospital fall woman calls for more nursing staff

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A MAN who has pressed for answers about the death of his mother for more than five years, has appealed for more nursing help for vulnerable people.

After an inquest where coroner Michael Oakley found Isabella Smith had died of natural causes, her son Kevin, of Meadow Lane, Northallerton, said he believed the amount of care she received at Southwoods Nursing Home and the Friarage Hospital, both in the town, had contributed to her death.

Mr Smith, 58, secured an inquest hearing into the death in March 2008 of the retired caretaker of Bedale Hall, in Bedale, after writing to the attorney general about concerns he had over his mother’s apparent weight loss and the general care she received.

He said: “She fell after being left on her own and she didn’t have a wheelchair with her.

“When I visited her at the nursing home, where she was left for up to six hours on her own, she always needed changing.

“Following the inquest I feel like I have put her to sleep, but I think the care she received in her final months was due to a lack of staff and I would like to see these places employing more nurses.”

The hearing at County Hall, Northallerton, was told 88-year-old Mrs Smith, had died almost eight months after being admitted to the Friarage with a chest infection.

Claire Pilling, a matron at the Friarage, said a day after arriving at the hospital Mrs Smith had been escorted to a bathroom and had fallen while attempting to walk back to her bed unassisted.

The widow fractured her right hip in the fall and doctors decided the best treatment for her was a lengthy period of bed rest.

Following six weeks’ treatment at the hospital and a further four weeks in the Lambert Memorial Hospital, in Sowerby, where an attempt at rehabilitation failed, Mrs Smith moved to the nursing home in Thirsk Road, Northallerton.

GP Dr Hilary Enevoldson said she visited the nursing home every two weeks and while Mrs Smith had appeared frail, she had no concerns about her care there and had no record of her losing a significant amount of weight.

Theresa Watkins, a former manager at the nursing home, said Mrs Smith had received full nursing care and had received no complaints about her losing weight, becoming dehydrated or being without assistance.

Nurses at the home told the hearing they had given Mrs Smith a high level of care.

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