Call to review end-of-life care

Is the NHS in crisis?
Is the NHS in crisis?

A national charity has asked the borough’s hospital bosses to request an independent review of end-of-life care after concerns about treatment.

Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) wrote to Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust after being approached by relatives upset by how their loved ones’ final days had been handled.

AvMA chief executive Peter Walsh said he asked for the review due to the similarities between the six cases, which all happened at Wigan Infirmary.

The cases being considered include that of Betty Lythgoe, whose daughter Julie Hurst wrote to AvMA about the incidents, and Winifred Brogan who was wrongly put on a care pathway and whose treatment resulted in criticism from the health service ombudsman.

Ms Hurst, from Hindley, said she hoped the review might get some answers after a long battle for information but said if the charity could not take it further she would continue her campaign.

She said: “I’m obviously hopeful we will get some kind of investigation carried out, but if we don’t I’m not giving up. I’ve been in touch with Healthwatch as well because in my opinion they can do this as well. If this goes nowhere I will be back in touch with them.”

The charity’s letter, which has also been sent to Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), expressed concern about the similarities in the various cases, including concerns about lack of communication with families, inappropriate use of do not resuscitate (DNR) notices and best-interest meetings with relatives not being staged.

AvMA stressed it has no legal powers but hoped its highly-respected status campaigning for justice and safety for patients would mean WWL will take its letter seriously.

Chief executive Mr Walsh said: “It is quite unusual to be contacted about the same hospital by that number of people with similar concerns. These cases all have certain things in common.

“In the light of that, we’ve written to the Trust to suggest they commission or work with the CCG on commissioning an independent review of end-of-life care across the entire Trust but particularly at Wigan.

“We think there could be some valuable lessons from looking at these cases and any others where complaints or comments have been received about end-of-life care.”

The Trust has always strongly denied many of the allegations the six families have made about poor care and stressed that where problems have been found steps have been taken to ensure they cannot happen again.

WWL director of nursing Pauline Law said: “We can confirm that the Trust took receipt of the letter on Monday.

“A formal response will be made to Mr Walsh, chief executive of Action Against Medical Accidents, in due course.”