The distraught daughters of a 79-year-old Cliftonville nan and great-nan say they were ‘robbed’ of the chance to say goodbye after she died on a Covid ward in QEQM Hospital.
Linda, Helen and Suzy Roy say mum Winnie Taylor was admitted to the Margate hospital on November 9 with pneumonia and sepsis.
On arrival she was tested for Covid and a negative result was produced. But a further test was carried out while Winnie was in QEQM which East Kent Hospitals Trust say was positive. The family say the ward Winnie was in was changed to admit covid patients two days after her arrival.
Her heartbroken daughters say they only found out about the positive test when Suzy, who is her mum’s live in carer a their Cliftonville home, received a text from NHS Test and Trace. Suzy later tested negative for the virus and the sisters say she is the only person Winnie had contact with for weeks prior to her admission to hospital.
Linda and Helen, who live in Yorkshire, say they were initially told their mum would be in hospital for 24 to 48 hours.
Linda said: “We were under the impression that mum was coming home. The doctor was saying that he was not overly concerned and that they would be sorting a new inhaler out for her to bring home.”
But Winnie, who was also battling cancer, then began to deteriorate. The sisters say they feel they were given false hope.
Linda, 53, said: “At first we were told there were no concerns. But they tested her again for Covid which we didn’t know until Saturday afternoon when my sister Suzy got a text from Test and Trace.
“We were really upset and angry. Mum had a negative test when she went into the hospital. When we phoned up about it the staff did not want to talk to us.
“Our mum was left on that ward. Then they phoned on Saturday to say mum was deteriorating and not taking her meds because she could not swallow. On Sunday mum deteriorated further and we decided to travel down.”
Linda and Helen, who was suffering with a broken leg, travelled 273 miles – taking six hours – from Bradford to Margate in a bid to see their mum.
But rules in place meant only Suzy, 48, was admitted to the hospital to stay with her mum in her last hours.
The sisters say phone calls to the ward ended up with staff not wanting to talk to them and one person hanging up the phone on them.
Winnie died at 7.35am on the Monday morning (November 16).
Linda said: “They failed to tell us she was on a covid ward, despite the negative test when she first arrived, and we did not get a chance to bring her home. We promised her she would not die in hospital when the time came, which was not supposed to be now. She was terrified of being in hospital.
“It all hastened her death.”
Helen, 52, said: “Linda and myself were robbed of the opportunity to say goodbye, that’s what she had hung on for.
“It was appalling. Mum’s cancer was stable, she was admitted for pneumonia and sepsis, she tested negative for covid but she died days later.”
Linda added: “Mum was a beautiful lady inside and out. She would have done anything for anyone. She loved and adored all her children and grandchildren.
“She was a strong lady, loved to laugh and would make others laugh. Everyone loved our mum.
“There’s not enough words to say how amazing she was. She did not like to feel she was a burden on her family when she was ill. She fought breast cancer that was stage 4 and did so well that it shrunk but when it spread to her womb she started to be ill again.
“Mum had 6 children, was nana to 19 and had 24 great grandchildren. She loved us all dearly and she was always there for us. We could talk to her about anything and she never judged anyone and would always give great advice.
“We loved her so much and feel robbed of not being allowed to say goodbye and not having mum return home to die as she wanted.”
A spokesman for East Kent Hospitals said: “We offer our sincere condolences to Mrs Taylor’s family for their sad loss and we are extremely sorry that their experience fell below what we would want.
“Although Mrs Taylor initially tested negative for Covid, as with all patients she had a second test in case the virus was at too early a stage to be detected on the first test.
“This test proved positive and she was moved to a ward caring for Covid positive patients at this time.
“While there are exceptions to the visiting restrictions for patients who are at the end of their life, unfortunately these still limit the number of people who can visit.
“We are very sorry that the family had difficulty contacting the ward and we would welcome the opportunity to discuss their experiences further with them.”
The family say they have contacted the Patient Advice and Liaison Service to lodge a complaint. The Care Quality Commission will work alongside PALS.