St Richard’s criticised at Chichester inquest

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A WIDOW has said she feels betrayed by hospital staff who left her husband in ‘awful distress’.

Christine McLellan’s husband Alexander, 63, of Eastergate, died in St Richard’s Hospital following a keyhole operation to remove his adrenal gland.

“Nobody wants to know their loved one died in pain,” she told an inquest at Chichester Magistrates’ Court on January 16.

“I think he suffered a lot of pain over those 24 hours because people didn’t do what they should have done.”

The former engineer and father-of-two was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2009.

Mr McLellan’s operation on September 26, 2011, at St Richard’s appeared successful, but he developed complications and was diagnosed with an intra-abdominal infection, caused by a small bowel perforation.

Recording a narrative verdict, coroner Dr David Skipp attributed his death on October 17 to multi-organ failure and sepsis.

His widow told the inquest her husband waited more than two hours the day after his operation for a doctor to see him, despite ‘begging for a pain-killer’ from a nurse who then went off duty.

“Every night of my life since Alex died I go over this scene of her leaving this man in awful distress,” she said.

She also questioned whether it was necessary for her husband to have the surgery.

When questioned on how the nurse and others had treated Mr McLellan, Dr James Hicks, who carried out the keyhole operation, said: “Clearly there are lessons to be learned and we will take them back to the staff involved.”

He later added: “We all have to learn from this and I more than anybody have to react from a patient dying from a complication of an operation. I hope that never rests easy on any surgeon’s shoulders and I know it will rest heavily on mine.”

Dr Skipp, who will be writing to the Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust to express his concern at the peceived lack of communication and compassion at the hospital, said Mr McLellan appeared to be ‘a peaceful, gentle individual... who had born his cancer with bravery, not complaining’.

He also described it as a ‘tragic situation’, but added he could not blame anybody.

Speaking after the inquest, Mrs McLellan described her husband as giving St Richard’s a ‘gift of trust’ and added: “As a community we look to St Richard’s to keep us safe.”