Lincolnshire hospital trust apologises after doctor suggests husband was abusing his wife

A distraught husband has spoken of his anger at the treatment his wife received at Lincoln County Hospital and suggestions made by a doctor that he was abusing her.

David Barker, 69, of Woodhall Spa, has pursued a year-long campaign against United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, to receive an apology for what he describes as “disgraceful” behaviour by doctors and staff towards himself and his wife, Ruth.

Ruth, 63, had an MRI scan at Lincoln County Hospital on October 6 last year after a fall in her home four days earlier.

A number of concerns were raised by David about the treatment Ruth received in her month-long stay at the Waddington Unit.

David felt that Ruth, who has previously suffered from Central Nervous System Lymphoma, should have been discharged following her MRI, and that her prolonged stay in hospital had resulted in a loss of mobility and coherent speech.

He also claimed that his wife was catheterised for no reason other than convenience, and was given steroids and diazepam, which could have a potentially negative effect on someone with Ruth’s condition.

A meeting held at the hospital finally spurred a complaint to the trust.

During the meeting, David claims that a doctor raised safeguarding concerns over Ruth’s welfare, suggesting that he was abusing her due to a peculiar pattern of bruising.

David complained to the trust, and an investigation was held, which concluded that the staff had acted professionally and correctly.

Hospital has “duty of care” to patients

Unsatisfied with the response, David pursued his complaint, bringing a further meeting in August 2015.

While the trust stuck by its findings that Ruth was in no position to return home following her MRI, and that catheterisation was in her best interests, it eventually acknowledged mistakes had been made.

In a letter, acting CEO of ULHT, Kevin Turner, expressed his “sincere apologies” for how the doctors spoke to David to establish how the bruising was caused.

He said: “All health professionals within the hospital have a duty of care to patients and a responsibility to safeguard them whilst they are in our care.

“Nonetheless, the way in which this was handled and communicated to you was unacceptable and I am very sorry for the upset and distress we caused you as a result of our actions.”

Turner also confirmed in the letter that financial compensation in this case “would not be appropriate.”

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

David said: “They levelled false accusations against me in a most unsavoury way. The drain on my own health has been substantial, as has been the emotional pain caused.

“This has now gone on for one year and they refuse to accept any financial liability for what they have caused.”

When asked for a response, ULHT said that they “cannot comment on individual cases.”

A spokesperson for the trust added: “However, we have a duty of care to our patients to investigate any potential safeguarding concerns.

“We have been working with Mr Barker to address his concerns about his wife’s care which has been investigated fully by our new See It My Way complaints process.

“Any issues relating to the quality of care for our patients are taken very seriously by the trust and we are continuously striving to improve our services.”