Welwyn woman seeks more answers about her husband’s death at the Lister Hospital

PUBLISHED: 10:22 23 November 2018 | UPDATED: 10:36 23 November 2018

The late Keith Whitbread, and his widow Angela, who is pushing for more answers about his treatment at the Lister Hospital. Pictures: supplied

The late Keith Whitbread, and his widow Angela, who is pushing for more answers about his treatment at the Lister Hospital. Pictures: supplied


A Welwyn Garden City widow is dissatisfied with the results of an inquiry into what happened at the Lister Hospital prior to her husband’s death.

Angela Whitbread’s husband Keith was admitted to the Lister with fluid on his legs on July 10, but after a fall on August 3 he took a turn for the worse, and on August 7, he suffered two heart attacks and sadly passed away.

The 13-page inquiry released by East and North Herts NHS Trust on October 8 said that Keith had a number of ongoing health issues.

These included leaky heart valves, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer of the liver, leading the inquiry to say: “Any of these conditions could have contributed to his death.”

Angela is dissatisfied with the inquiry’s findings around his treatment during his four and a half weeks in hospital, particularly what happened on the night he fell.

The inquiry states that during his fall - which was witnessed by a nurse - Keith did not bang his head.

However, after seeing him the next day, Angela said: “Why did my husband have a bruise on the back and the side of his head?”

She called his overall treatment a “total disgrace”, describing her perception of inattentive nurses, low staffing, unprofessional behaviour and inappropriate comments.

After the fall, the report says that “his observations remained normal”, and that by next day he “appeared to be improving”.

Angela could not disagree more. When she visited Keith the day after the fall, she described him as being “in a terrible, terrible state.

“He could not talk, walk, move, sit up, go to the toilet, eat or drink.

“I asked continually to speak to a consultant and get some help, but no-one listened to me.”

The inquiry found that this should have been escalated to the consultant cardiologist, and the failure to do so “has been raised with the doctors as a learning point”.

The Trust apologised to Angela on several other counts, including not having informed her of her husband’s heart attacks, and for not consulting her on what to do after the second one.

At the time, doctors decided not to try and resuscitate Keith, and instead decided to try and make him comfortable with a palliative approach.

“I am sincerely sorry if this was not discussed with you at the time,” said the author of the inquiry.

“You are full of apologies,” said Angela in her letter of response. “It doesn’t bring back my husband.”

In a letter, she also points out numerous discrepancies between points in the inquiry and things she says she observed both prior to, and after, Keith went into the hospital.

While the inquiry concluded that he had developed an infection which led to septicaemia, resulting in multiple organ failure, his death certificate states he died of a hypoxic brain injury.

It is not clear why the two reports describe the cause of death differently.

The Trust is now in the process of responding to Angela.

After the WHT put some of these questions to the Trust, a spokesperson explained that it cannot respond in detail as the inquiry is ongoing, and added: “We would like to express our sincere condolences to Mr Whitbread’s family for their loss and our thoughts are very much with them at this time.

“The Trust has conducted a full review of Keith’s care and our detailed findings have been shared with the family.

“We are looking into the family’s additional questions and we will be responding to them shortly.”

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