Woman, 83, died minutes after Harrogate Hospital ward move
A terminally-ill pensioner died minutes after being moved twice between hospital beds against her family”s wishes, her sons have said.
The family of Irene Simister, 83, had agreed she would not be moved from her room at Harrogate District Hospital.
Her son David said her death was “traumatic and cruel”.
The hospital trust apologised for moving Mrs Simister “at such a late stage” on Friday.
According to Mr Simister, half an hour before his mother”s death the hospital”s bed manager ordered she be moved from a single-bed side room, where she had been for a week, to accommodate a newly-arrived patient.
He said Mrs Simister, who had cancer, was wheeled into a six-bed ward while nursing staff, knowing her death was imminent, rushed to clean another side room where she died a few minutes later.
Mr Simister, a North Yorkshire County Councillor, said he and his brother Andrew agreed with the hospital earlier that week it was not in Mrs Simister”s best interests to move her from the room, which contained her belongings and cards, and a photograph of her wedding.
“The decision to move our mother was incomprehensible and inhumane,” he said.
“Our mother was not days or hours from death, she was just minutes. The nursing staff who had looked after her with such care, devotion and tenderness protested, but were overruled.
“This was not end of life care as we expected it. It was end of life cruelty for our mother and her family and friends who had gathered around her bed to say their goodbyes.
“Within minutes of being wheeled from her room into a main ward it was clear her life was very near its end.”
Dr Ros Tolcher, Chief Executive of Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I am very sorry that Irene Simister was moved at such a late stage.
“I apologise sincerely to those affected by this situation and would like to reassure people that we will continue to do everything possible to provide care which is compassionate and dignified, particularly for people at the end of their lives,” she said.
“Financial matters played no part in the decision making in what was a very difficult set of circumstances.”
The family said the nursing team were “absolutely superb” and the care Mrs Simister received at the hospital for almost a month was “second to none”.