Colchester Hospital: Patient, 85, 'not fed or washed properly'

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An 85-year-old woman was not washed or fed properly for 10 days at an Essex hospital, her family has claimed.

The patient, from Frinton, was at Colchester Hospital for post-heart operation care until Wednesday.

Her family, who also say a staff member advised them to remove her, is now paying for her care at a private nursing home.

The hospital said staff "did their best" to address their concerns and the patient's discharge had been planned.

On Thursday, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that Colchester Hospital was one of five NHS hospitals that would be investigated over high death rates.

'Something out of Belsen'

The patient was treated there twice, either side of undergoing open heart surgery at The Heart Hospital, London.

Her daughter Karen Hare, who does not want her mother to be named, said she arrived back at Colchester on 15 January with feeding tubes up her nose.

The family said these were removed after a few days, but when they next visited there was a nil-by-mouth sign above her bed and they also found faeces under her finger nails.

Ms Hare, who lives near Woodbridge in Suffolk, said: "We were talking to staff and a consultant and we reckoned [that by 6 February] she had had no food for 10 days and you could see the bones in her hands - she looked like something out of Belsen.

"We were advised by someone at the hospital to get her out as quickly as we could because they couldn't care for her where she was - the whole thing is appalling.

"Elderly people that don't have relatives close by wouldn't be able to fight this sort of thing and that's a sad indictment of the NHS."

'Planned procedure'

A Colchester Hospital spokesman said the 85-year-old patient had "very complex needs".

"We always try to be at our best for patients and are disappointed when a patient or family member believes we have failed to achieve that objective," he said.

"Her daughter raised concerns on the ward on a number of occasions and staff there did their best to address them.

"Her discharge from hospital yesterday was a planned procedure that involved the daughter and healthcare staff, including doctors."

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