My Lad's Diabolical Care; Hospital Apologises over Dying Cancer Patient's Treatment

Article excerpt

Byline: SARAH SCOTT

HE was a doting uncle who shared an unbreakable bond with his nephews.

But in the last few days of funloving Mark Harrison's life, his family were left in turmoil after he was not seen by doctors for more than 10 hours.

Mark, who had been diagnosed with an initially unknown cancer in June, had been receiving treatment on the palliative care unit at North Tyneside General before his death on October 12.

But his distraught mum Christine has told of her family's hell having to witness Mark receive what she claimed was at times "diabolical care".

"On the Sunday before Mark died they stopped his fluids and that is when his nurse on the palliative care unit rang for a doctor to come over," said 52-year-old Christine.

"She rang and rang and rang and she was asked eventually if she could wait over an hour. I had been told that day Mark was on the Liverpool Care Pathway, which is for patients in the final days and hours of their life.

"He was meant to see a doctor within an hour if he was on that," said the grandmother-of-three.

But despite their nurse calling, Mark was left unseen by a doctor for more than 10 hours. He died just three days later.

"It was horrible watching him like that, I had to walk out of the room many times," said Christine, of North Shields.

"We could tell he was in pain, he was writhing on the bed, all we wanted was for his pain relief to be increased to make him more comfortable," she said.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said that Mark had access to pain relief during the time he was waiting for a doctor and was given appropriate medication by nurses.

When 29-year-old Mark died on October 12 last year Christine made a formal complaint regarding the care he received in the final days of his life.

Christine and her daughter Becky met with representatives from the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust to discuss what the family described as "slip-ups" in Mark's care.

"The staff on the palliative care unit were brilliant, it was just the fact the main hospital made him wait so long to address his pain relief increase," said Christine.

"We could see he was in more pain. …