Bilsthorpe man’s guilt over ‘signing’ for his mum to die

Graham Bennett with a photo of his mother Gladys.
Graham Bennett with a photo of his mother Gladys.
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A BILSTHORPE man said he feels like he signed his own mum’s death warrant after she was put on the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway at King’s Mill Hospital without staff explaining what it was to him.

Graham Bennett’s mum Gladys was admitted to hospital in October 2010 after falling and breaking her hip at her home at Burton Court in Bilsthorpe.

Gladys Bennett who died at Kings Mill Hospital after being put on the Liverpool Care Pathway.

Gladys Bennett who died at Kings Mill Hospital after being put on the Liverpool Care Pathway.

But she died later that month at King’s Mill after Graham was asked to sign forms that he now believes gave consent to put her on the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP).

“It was never mentioned, that’s what annoys me,” said Graham (70).

“It’s taken a time to come to terms with it, even though my mum passed away at the end of October 2010.”

Gladys, who was in good health for her age prior to being admitted to hospital, and still lived independently, had a successful operation on her broken hip and seemed to be recovering well, said Graham, of Archers Drive.

But after she had been in hospital for about two weeks, there was a sudden change.

Graham said she started showing signs of deterioration and the following week, her third in hospital, he was told that she needed palliative care either in a nursing home or in hospital.

“I was not sure then what the word palliative meant and she appeared to be really ill so I thought the best place for her is actually the hospital,” said Graham.

He was then asked to sign two forms, firstly a Do Not Resuscitate form and then, a couple of days later, one entitled ‘Allow Natural Death’.

Though Graham and his wife Margaret knew Gladys was very ill, there was no explanation about the significance of signing these forms from the nurses or doctors treating her.

Said Graham: “I thought she was going to pass away perhaps and I would have liked her to have a nice ending to her life.

“I never thought I was signing anything that meant the total withdrawal of food, water and all the medications she had been taking.”

Gladys had no medication nor even a jug of water by her bed after that, but Graham said they trusted the hospital staff and did not ask why.

She continued going downhill and died seven days later.

“It’s bothered me, very much so,” said Graham.

“I feel I signed for her to die without being told why.”

It is only with recent high profile news reports on the LCP that Graham has realised that his mum was put on an end-of-life treatment, with no explanation about what signing the forms would mean for Gladys’ care ever given.

“I feel so guilty about signing those two forms. I feel I was signing her death warrant,” he said.

Graham feels sure that other patients’ relatives have been asked to sign such forms without having the ‘cruel’ LCP explained to them and wants there to be better communication about what this means.

“I think it’s a case of communication,” he added.

“I can’t fault the nurses or the doctor, they did their very best for my mum - but it just wasn’t explained.”

Dr Mark Roberts, clinical lead for End-of-Life Care at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said they aim to provide the highest quality end-of-life care by providing dignity in a caring environment.

“We are committed to improving care and people’s choices at the end of life and have introduced a number of clinical initiatives over the last year designed to further support end-of-life care, with more work planned for the coming months,” he said.

“The end-of-life process is unique to each person. We provide expertise and compassion focused on the needs of individuals, with or without the Liverpool Care Pathway, and put into place appropriate physical and emotional support for them and their carers, either from a hospital setting or within community care.

“All decisions are communicated to the patient where possible and deemed appropriate but always to the relative or carer. The views of all concerned are listened to, considered and documented.

“Mr Bennett has not contacted us regarding his concerns, but we would be more than happy to speak with him should he wish to contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service.”