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Widow Takes Legal Action against NHS after Husband Dies

Widow Takes Legal Action against NHS after Husband Dies

The NHS is facing a lawsuit from a woman who alleges that a hospital in south Wales failed to provide suitable care to her late husband.

Eric Ward was suffering from severe abdominal pains when he was admitted to the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff on two separate occasions in February 2010. He was diagnosed with severe acute pancreatitis but was discharged within just a few days.

However, his family believe he was not adequately fed during his hospital stay, which led to his weight dropping from 11 stone to six stone. Mr Ward was admitted to the hospital a final time in March 2010 but died at home shortly after discharging himself.

His widow Rosemary is therefore taking legal action against the NHS, as she believes hospital staff allowed him to starve to death. 

"When he was discharged it was like bringing a dead body home - he was that frail and was just skin and bones," she commented. "He went in to that hospital a walking man of a healthy weight and came out a skeleton in a wheelchair."

She added that getting money from the NHS is not her priority and that she is instead focused on getting answers and justice for her late husband.

Court papers state that while Mr Ward should have been fed intravenously in order to ensure he was sufficiently nourished, staff repeatedly tried to feed him orally even though he had a gastric obstruction.

This, they say, led to him receiving only a fraction of the nutrients he required, which means he effectively starved to death and endured "considerable pain".

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board has not yet lodged its defence, but a spokesman said it is "aware of this sad case".

The body has also extended its sympathies to Mr Ward's family, but said it is not in a position to comment further given the fact that legal proceedings are ongoing.

By Francesca Witney