Healthcare trust faces negligence claim after pensioner’s death


Care and treatment offered to a Crawley woman who died of tuberculosis was not good enough, the Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust has admitted.

Iris Smith, 70, died on September 2 2012 after doctors at East Surrey Hospital initially failed to diagnose she was suffering from milary tuberculosis.

An inquest into Mrs Smith’s death said treatment, when it was given, was “too late”.

Lawyers from law firm Penningtons Manches, representing Mrs Smith’s family, are dealing with an ongoing claim of clinical negligence against the Trust.

A spokesman said Mrs Smith had been admitted to hospital with complaints of abdominal pain, chest pain and respiratory problems on two occasions in the months leading up to her death.

An inquest on September 18 2013 ruled a delay in diagnosing and treating Mrs Smith had lowered her chance of survival but was not due to neglect.

Emma Beeson, of Penningtons Manches, said: “Mrs Smith’s pain and suffering prior to her death were extremely distressing.

“Her family were forced to endure the stressful lead up to her sad death and they now have to live with the realisation that, had Mrs Smith received a reasonable standard of care at East Surrey Hospital and been treated sooner, she would still be with them today.

“The family has received a formal written apology from the Trust’s chief executive in which he acknowledged that the care Mrs Smith received while a patient at East Surrey Hospital in 2012 fell below that which she was entitled to expect.”

SASH medical director Dr Des Holden said: “We extend our sincere condolences to Mr Smith and his family for their loss and sadness.

“Detailed investigations undertaken at the Trust following Iris’ death revealed that aspects of her care and treatment fell below that which she and her family were entitled to expect.

“The Trust and staff are saddened by the circumstances leading up to Iris’ death and Iris’s experience has been shared with all our medical doctors in detail so that TB is considered in the diagnosis of patients whose health is not improving as we would expect.

“The Trust is liaising with the family’s solicitors and it is hoped that a satisfactory resolution can be achieved.”