MRSA feature

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

I found dried blood stains on my girl's sheets... days later she died of MRSA

AN NHS hospital should be a place where lives are saved - not ended prematurely by a superbug.

But despite Labour health spending soaring from 37billion in 1997 to 120billion last year, killer infections such as MRSA and C. diff are rife on wards.

The extra cash has led to the number of medical staff rising by just two per cent - while managers are up ten per cent.

SUN gives the NHS a check-up, highlighting problems politicians need to be tackling

A special YouGov survey of 1,747 adults commissioned by The Sun shows people rate superbugs as one of the NHS's biggest problems.

Here, in Day Two of our NHS health check, three relatives of patients who died of MRSA tell DAVID LOWE and JENNA SLOAN of their heartbreaking experience of the NHS under Labour.

Sue Fallon, 44

UNIVERSITY housekeeper Sue, of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs, lost her 17-year-old daughter Sammie to MRSA in May 2008. She says:

Sammie was diagnosed with auto-immune liver disease when she was 11, and although she had to take medication daily she was healthy and lived a normal life.

She was studying photography at college and loved chatting to pals.

On April 3, 2008, she was feeling poorly after a virus so I took her to North Staffs University Hospital.

Blood tests showed she had an imbalance which needed chemotherapy treatment.

They took a bone marrow sample from her hip and started on the chemo.

The first two wards Sammie was in were filthy.

There were sticky patches on the floors and instead of changing the bedding properly, the nurses just took the bottom bed sheet, put it on top and then put a new one underneath.

I came in once and found dried blood stains on the sheet covering her.

It was also difficult to communicate with the nurses as their English wasn't great.

My mum mentioned the problems to a nurse, but Sammie asked me not to complain as she was worried something would be said to her when she was on her own.

I noticed the wound on her hip where they'd done a bone marrow test had swollen up and I was told she had MRSA on May 1.

I had no idea what it was and a nurse just gave me a leaflet.

But my mum used to be a nurse and the look on her face said it all.

They had done the MRSA test on April 29 and in my opinion she should then have been put in isolation.

There were women on her ward with leukaemia who were at massive risk and Sammie's immune system was weak too.

But instead she was moved into isolation on May 2, where she started getting more and more poorly.

Her kidneys packed up and I couldn't believe my little girl, who'd been quite healthy before her hospital stay, was now unconscious and covered in tubes.

She'd had a great chance of recovery but now the consultant was saying she had just a ten to 20 per cent chance of survival.

She died on May 9.

I miss her terribly and so does her little sister Alex, who is 14.

The Government have not done enough to tackle MRSA.

People think it's gone away but there seems to be a new scandal every day.

I don't want any other mum to go through the pain my family has.

Derek Butler, 55

ENGINEER Derek, of Kirkham, Lancs, has seen three close relatives killed by MRSA in the past nine years. He says:

My family has been devastated by this infection, which is why I helped set up the charity MRSA Action UK five years ago.

The first relative I discovered to be infected was my stepfather, John Crews - an ex-soldier who married my mum and adopted me.

In 2003, John had a heart attack and was taken to Blackpool Victoria hospital, where he picked up MRSA.

Staff said it was an infection, but you knew it was serious because he had a high heart rate and blood pressure.

John survived another three months before passing away at 54. His notes said he was "profusely infected" with MRSA in two leg wounds and his catheter.

That's when I began researching other family members who had been to Blackpool Victoria.

My grandfather, Richard Hall was healthy until his op on a broken hip in 2000.

Sadly he caught MRSA during treatment, which was confirmed on his medical records at Blackpool Victoria.

Three weeks after a routine op, he was dead, aged 87.

My uncle, Derick Hall, also fell victim to MRSA, aged 67.

In the summer of 2008 Derick was given chemotherapy for lung cancer in Blackpool Victoria. He also contracted MRSA and died within weeks.

What my relatives went through makes me very angry and determined to fight. Wards are filthy, while the staff are overstretched.

People are dying, yet Government money is available for greedy banks and MPs' expenses. I don't blame NHS staff - I blame a flawed system.

Helen Bronstein, 54

CIVIL servant Helen, from Edmonton, north London, lost her mother Joyce Morrison to MRSA in July 2008. She says:

Although my mother was 83, she was also a very capable lady who lived alone and could look after herself.

Throughout her life she worked in various senior secretarial roles in the City in London.

Weeks before Mum died her mind was very clear.

She loved crosswords and could recite Shakespeare.

She had five children and 13 grandchildren and watching her decline so rapidly because of MRSA was very hard for us all.

Initially Mum was admitted for a simple cataract op in June 2008, but when she was in hospital she fell and broke her femur.

During a subsequent procedure at a second hospital, the Princess Alexandra in Harlow, Essex, the wound became infected with MRSA.

For a few weeks Mum appeared well, but then I noticed a sudden deterioration.

She was in incredible pain. Once I found her delirious and struggling to understand where she was.

At this stage septicemia, or blood poisoning, was setting in.

It wasn't until Mum was lying unconscious that staff began to mention nasty bugs, and even then the term MRSA was only used four days before she died.

Because MRSA is an infection it doesn't get mentioned on death certificates.

Mum's states she passed away because of heart failure.

The ironic thing is the consultant later admitted she wouldn't have died if she hadn't contracted MRSA.

What is going on in our hospitals is a disgrace.

Not only were NHS staff evasive about the true nature of Mum's illness, but she became fatally ill in the very place that should have made her better.

Although we eventually got an apology, I'm still angry about what we went through.

You hope such cases will bring change to the system, but this hasn't happened.

Poll results

FOR our exclusive survey on the state of the NHS, pollsters YouGov quizzed 1,747 adults about their views and experience of the health service - and the results show an institution in need of intensive care.

While nearly a third of patients now wait less than a month for surgery, six per cent still wait more than a year, and most people entering hospital fear they will catch a superbug.

My View


GORDON BROWN begins Prime Minister's Questions each week by solemnly naming the brave soldiers killed in Afghanistan. It takes a few minutes.

Luckily for him, he does not do the same for the casualties of hospital superbugs.

It would take all day - and there would be riots in the streets. Indeed it is surprising there have been no angry marches over the 1,200 who died in muck and squalor in Mid-Staffs - or the scores killed by neglect in Maidstone.

Yet they are just the tip of a deadly iceberg.

Despite extra billions poured into pay and staff, the risk of lethal infection has soared under Labour.

In their first ten years, official figures show 36,674 patients died from MRSA or C. Diff.

The true figure is far higher, but by any standards it is a massacre - equal to every man, woman and child in Billericay in Essex or Yeovil in Somerset.

Every one died needlessly from an infection they did not have before.

The spread of drug-resistant superbugs is entirely down to shoddy personal and institutional hygiene.

The risk in scrupulously clean countries such as Norway and Sweden is almost non-existent, at less than one per cent. In Britain, one of the worst in Europe according to official figures, it is a shocking 44 PER CENT.

Antiseptic dispensers are on every ward and staff are under orders to wash their hands before and after dealing with patients.

But some are too busy - or careless.

Shortage of beds, despite extra cash, is a major cause of infection as patients are discharged as fast as possible to make space for the next one.

Harassed staff have little time to carry out the vital cleaning needed to ensure safety.

Coroners' reports describe the result. Beds, walls, floors and wheelchairs spattered with blood, vomit and, sorry to put it bluntly, sh*t.

But just as in schools and other public services, nobody is disciplined for incompetence or slovenly conduct. Diversity, equality and fairness come first, second and third.

Too often, as hundreds of poor souls found in Mid-Staffs and Kent, patients come last.