Skegby man’s anger at hospital death letter blunder

Alan Shaw with the letter sent from Kings Mill Hospital which expressed condolences on the loss of his wife.
Alan Shaw with the letter sent from Kings Mill Hospital which expressed condolences on the loss of his wife.

A FURIOUS Skegby man is demanding an apology in person from the chief executive of King’s Mill Hospital after receiving a letter offering condolences following his wife’s death - despite the fact that she is alive and kicking.

Alan Shaw, of Mansfield Road, received the letter after writing to the under-fire hospital to request his wife Rita’s medical records.

He was making the request after it was discovered that doctors failed to spot that Rita (75) had lung cancer when she went underwent several tests at the hospital last June while suffering with a bad cough.

Alan, a former chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “I saw that and I thought ‘what the hell can I do? That’s sheer incompetence that.”

Rita’s cancer diagnosis was made over six months after her first hospital visit - and only when she had fallen over at home at Christmas and needed to go to A&E for medical attention.

Alan said doctors were concerned about her neck but after finding no damage had been done, asked a question that took them by complete surprise.

“They then asked about when we came in in June, if anyone had said anything about a black patch on her right lung,” said Alan.

Just days later, Rita had a letter asking her to go for further tests and they came back positive for cancer.

She has now had the top part of her lung removed and is starting chemotherapy this week.

The couple want to know how the cancer was not picked up in the first place and wrote to the hospital to ask for Rita’s medical records to try and find some answers.

“I asked what the hell went off in June,” said Alan.

“We are six months behind now, nearly seven months and we want to know if the x-ray was shown to the right people.

“If Rita had not had that fall at Christmas, she might be dead.”

However, when the reply to Alan’s letter came through the door, insult was added to injury when it asked him to accept their ‘condolences’ for ‘the loss’ of his wife.

He is not only lost for words at such a mistake being made, but is very angry.

He contacted the hospital and has been sent a letter of apology and a bouquet of flowers for the error, but wants an apology in person from the chief executive.

“They are fobbing me off - I have demanded a hand-written letter and an apology to be at my house from him,” Alan said.

“But all I want is Rita’s health back, I am not bothered about the money or anything.”

Rita said she had no idea she was so ill because of the assurances given by medical staff in June.

“They said it was all clear and gave me antibiotics and said go and see you GP,” said Rita.

“With everything that’s gone off, I feel as if they have let me down.

“They looked after me in one way and done the other in another.”

The Shaws are not condemning King’s Mill as a whole and say they credit ward 43 with having saved Rita’s life after she caught pneumonia and an infection following her lung operation.

“Ward 43 was absolutely fantastic with me. They picked me up and got me going again,” she said.

Eric Morton, chief executive of Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “I personally wrote to Mr Shaw last week to offer my sincere apologies for the condolences letter he received, which was unfortunately entirely due to human error.

“A bouquet of flowers was also sent to Mrs Shaw by way of an apology.

“Mr Shaw has contacted us to ask for a meeting with our Medical Director, and we will discuss Mrs Shaw’s care directly with her and her husband.”