Lister Hospital failings highlighted during inquest

PUBLISHED: 13:10 02 May 2018 | UPDATED: 13:10 02 May 2018

Left: Eileen Smith. Right: Taruna Soneji. Pictures: Supplied.

Left: Eileen Smith. Right: Taruna Soneji. Pictures: Supplied.

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The family of a Welwyn Garden City woman who died at Lister Hospital say they are "beyond disappointed" that another family has lost a loved one there.

Taruna Soneji with her husband and sons. Picture: SuppliedTaruna Soneji with her husband and sons. Picture: Supplied

Eileen Smith, who lived in a care home in Welwyn Garden City, died at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital in February 2014.

In July 2015, a coroner ruled that staff failed to properly care for the 69-year-old, whose vital signs skyrocketed during her 12-hour stay at the hospital.

But doctors working at the time were not told until it was too late, and she died at about 5.45am the following morning.

Following the inquest into Eileen’s death, the NHS trust which runs the hospital said it was testing an electronic way of monitoring people’s vital signs on one of its wards.

The Coroner for Hertfordshire said if her care had been escalated apporopriately it is likely that Mrs Soneji would have survived. Picture: Dipesh SonejiThe Coroner for Hertfordshire said if her care had been escalated apporopriately it is likely that Mrs Soneji would have survived. Picture: Dipesh Soneji

Angela Thompson, the NHS trust’s director of nursing, said in 2015 the new system would mean “patients getting reviewed much more quickly than otherwise might be the case”.

Two years after Eileen’s death, Taruna Soneji also died at Lister Hospital and a lack of communication between hospital staff was also touched upon during the inquest into her death.

On April 19, 2018, coroner Geoffrey Sullivan heard evidence from a surgeon, doctors and representatives for the East and North Herts NHS Trust.

The inquest heard that Mrs Soneji, who had elective surgery to remove her gallbladder in December 2016, died due to a number of factors – including a lack of post-operative medical care when bile leaked into her system.

The coroner heard how her condition was not communicated efficiently between the staff before she died on December 12.

Mr Sullivan concluded: “My view is that the evidence does support that there was a gross failure to provide basic medical care.

“The need for post-operative care was obvious.”

During the inquest, trust members outlined an action plan that is now in place to ensure improvements are made – including new electronic records of observations which must be filled in hourly, and a new system for calling senior medical staff and mandatory end-of-day checks.

A trust spokesman told the Welwyn Hatfield Times that in 2015 a system was tested, however, it proved “problematic” and was not rolled out subsequently.

Instead, the trust looked at alternative options and in 2017, after Mrs Soneji’s death, having tested a system called Nervecentre and received the necessary funding, it was rolled out across the trust as part of a multi-million project.

The project introduced a new electronic patient record system to support improved quality of patient care.

Amy Hornblow, who is a matron nurse at Lister Hospital, told the coroner’s court during Mrs Soneji’s inquest that the new electronic observations meant that nurses would be alerted hourly to carry out their observations.

She said: “If this system was in place in 2016 someone from the critical outreach team would have come and seen Mrs Soneji.”

The spokesman for the trust said: “The trust apologises for the failings in Mrs Soneji’s care.

“We are also looking to resolve the family’s legal claim against the trust, which is underway currently.

“We will study the inquest’s findings to ensure that any outstanding actions recommended by the coroner are addressed.”

On learning of Mrs Soneji’s death, the family of Eileen felt saddened and angry.

A spokesman for Eileen’s family said: “This poor lady [Mrs Soneji] would not have died if they’d kept to their promise after Eileen died.

“They promised us changes would be made to ensure no one suffered like Eileen did but we are beyond disappointed that it has happened again.”

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