Sunday 21 October 2018
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appalled by mother's treatment

Social services have been accused of a "cover-up" in Tunbridge Wells after the family of an elderly woman sent home from hospital with MRSA claimed they were told "no one needed to know".

Relatives of 92-year-old Dorothy Hicks said they had been left "appalled and dumbfounded" following the advice from Kent County Council social services.

Mrs Hicks, who lives in sheltered accommodation in Sunhill Court, Pembury, contracted the superbug after being admitted to the Kent and Sussex Hospital last month.

The frail pensioner was being treated for a fractured hip and concerns were raised with hospital and social services bosses when it was decided to send her back home.

Daughter Beverley Westlake said: "We questioned why my mum was being sent home while she was still very ill, to a place full of elderly people. Social services told us 'no one needs to know she has MRSA' ".

She added: "I was in complete shock. I do not know the implications of carrying this around myself and to think other people would not be aware of the risk they might face left me dumbfounded."

The decision to discharge Mrs Hicks was also attacked by another daughter, Jackie Trueman.

She said: "She thought the year was 1918 and was hallucinating badly, yet she was deemed fit to leave. We were in disbelief. She was 92 and disabled. It takes her ten minutes just to stand up and she is in absolute agony."

The county council refused to comment on the allegations dismissing them as "hearsay".

A spokesman added: "It would be inappropriate to discuss the details of an individual case in public."

Questions have also been raised over care standards at the hospital following claims by Mrs Hicks' family she was neglected by staff and conditions were filthy. Mrs Trueman claimed it took five days for hospital staff to even notify anyone her mother had MRSA.

She said: "All the staff we saw went from one patient to another and I never saw one person wash their hands. Staff were uncaring and unprofessional. On one visit we found my mum sobbing for help, left on a commode with no one helping her."

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust said it had not carried out any investigation into allegations as "no formal complaint" had been made.

Chief operating officer Nikki Luffingham said: "It is a disciplinary offence for any member of staff to touch a patient in a clinical area without washing their hands first."

She added: "We also have very strict cleanliness standards and the patient must always come first and never be neglected in the way they claim. We monitor all these aspects of care very carefully and have regular patient satisfaction surveys that monitor exactly what the patients think."

Satisfaction and cleanliness ratings for the ward were both over 80 per cent throughout March and April, Ms Luffingham added.

Following contact with the Courier, Mrs Hicks' family have welcomed a decision to provide her with specialist care at Edenbridge and District War Memorial Hospital.

Source This is Kent