The inquest into the death of Glyn Roberts concluded on 19th November 2014. Mr Glyn Roberts died on 29th December 2008 at 61 years of age, at the Ysbyty Glan Clwyd Hospital having suffered a cardiac arrest due to the progression of Pancreatic Cancer.
In light of the families concerns surrounding Mr Roberts’ death, and following submissions to the Coroner on their behalf, expert evidence into the treatment, care and diagnosis of Mr Roberts’ condition was obtained and the inquest was heard with a jury.
Mr Roberts was a former police officer who had successfully overcome Prostate Cancer. In early 2008, he was given the all-clear however in October 2008, Mr Roberts began to feel unwell and complained of fatigue, pain in his chest and pain in his left side. Mr Roberts was diagnosed with Pneumonia by his GP and prescribed medication. His symptoms did not improve and he continued to deteriorate. In December 2008, he was seen on a private basis by a Cancer Specialist who had treated him previously, and sadly a scan confirmed he was suffering from cancer. The CT scan revealed a mass in the left side of the abdomen and widespread metastatic disease in noes, liver and lung. An urgent biopsy was requested and Mr Roberts was taken into hospital on 22nd December 2008. The biopsy confirmed this diagnosis. Mr Roberts returned home for Christmas, but was shortly transferred back to hospital some 6 days later. Mr Roberts’ condition continued to deteriorate and he sadly died within a few days.
The inquest heard that Pancreatic Cancer is an extremely difficult condition to detect and it is unlikely that treatment could have been started at a time to achieve any significant benefit and therefore starting chemotherapy earlier would not have altered the outcome. Mr Roberts appeared to have no specific symptoms related to his pancreatic cancer. Professor Price, Consultant in Clinical Oncology reported that the GP diagnosis was reasonable and sadly nothing could have been done to save Mr Roberts.
Following the death of Mr Roberts, his family made a formal complaint to the hospital in respect of the care he received prior to his death. Whilst it was accepted that the shortcomings in care did not contribute to Mr Roberts’ death, they undoubtedly added to the distress that Mr Roberts’ family was faced with in the days leading up to his death. A significant number of failings were found in his care and many of their complaints were upheld.
The Public Service Ombudsman for Wales was extremely critical of the care Mr Roberts’ received whilst in hospital. They expressed the following concerns;
i. Mr Roberts was discharged from hospital on Christmas Eve without any proper planning and before full clinical investigations had been undertaken;
ii. Staff did not appreciate that Mr Roberts was seriously ill and had he been more accurately assessed by a Senior Clinician, his family would have been more prepared for his death;
iii. Mr Roberts did not receive compassionate care by the ward sister in the hours leading up to his death;
iv. Mr Roberts’ serious condition was not clearly identified by either doctors or nurses over the course of three admissions. Mr Roberts was clearly not well enough to have been discharged from hospital and there was an inadequate investigation into his condition.
The jury concluded that:-
“During the last days of Glyn Roberts’ life, whilst under the care of Ysbyty Glan Clwyd there was a lack of fundamental nursing care, compassion, support and communication to both patient and family members.”
After 6 years, the family welcomed such conclusion and it is hoped that the death of Mr Roberts will bring more transparency in patient care.
The Coroner was reassured by the evidence of the Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery at the hospital,that sufficient changes have been made to address the shortcomings in care to prevent future deaths occurring in the future.
For legal advice regarding the death of a loved one please don’t hesitate to contact our experienced Inquest department on 0845 050 1958 or alternatively you can email us.
For related content please see the following press articles:
Wales Online – Cancer patient suffered ‘a lack of fundamental nursing care and compassion’ in his final days, an inquest jury rules