‘My 90-year-old mum deserved a better end’

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A daughter has accused hospital doctors of condemning her 90-year-old mother to a lonely death on a noisy ward after a ‘do not resuscitate’ form was signed without the family’s knowledge.

Grieving Janet Snailham says she would have taken her elderly mother home to pass away in her own bed surrounded by her family if doctors had given them the choice.

But instead Janet, of Hemel Hempstead, had no idea that a senior doctor at Watford General Hospital had signed a DNR form and she didn’t find out until after her mother had passed away.

“They just wrote her off because she was 90 years of age,” said Janet

“They didn’t even speak to us or my mother.”

Janet’s mother – a grandmother and great grandmother – was admitted to hospital with a chest infection on the morning of Saturday, March 2.

She passed away on the Monday morning from an upper respiratory tract infection but her family were not even aware that her condition had deteriorated.

It was not until the day after the death that Janet, who cared for her mother, discovered that a DNR form had been signed by a doctor the family had never met.

“I never saw him and I was there all weekend. I was there, my daughter had been there, my brother had been they with his wife. We were there on the Saturday when that form was signed,” said Janet.

“I was there nearly all weekend so why they couldn’t find us or phone us. They just didn’t bother.

“What they did meant she died with no family around her, whereas she would have been in her bedroom so that she didn’t die on her own in a noisy sick ward. That is what they signed her to.

“I don’t believe my mother could have been saved but we didn’t have any choice about it.”

Janet has written a formal complaint to West Herts NHS Hospitals Trust chief executive Samantha Jones, who has apologised for any distress and anxiety that has been caused to the family.

She has confirmed that it is usual for the DNR decision making process to include talking to family members and patients.

So far Janet has been unhappy with the response and is still pursuing her complaint.

The trust said it would be inappropriate to comment on an individual case but confirmed that a formal complaint has been made and is being investigated.