Widow set to sue hospital chiefs over death of husband

Janis Elsdon from Argyle Terrace at Newbiggin seen with a picture of her husband Jimmy Elsdon who died at Wansbeck General Hospital after being injected with morphine.

Janis Elsdon from Argyle Terrace at Newbiggin seen with a picture of her husband Jimmy Elsdon who died at Wansbeck General Hospital after being injected with morphine.

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A widow is threatening legal action over the care her husband was given in hospital in his last few hours of life.

Janis Elsdon, 52, is so angry about the treatment her husband James received prior to his death at Wansbeck General Hospital in January 2009 that she says she is considering suing Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

An inquest last week heard how Mr Elsdon, 51, was admitted to the Ashington hospital in the early hours of January 15 suffering from liver disease.

Mrs Elsdon, of Argyle Terrace, Newbiggin, claims hospital staff were told her husband was allergic to morphine, but they went on to give him two small doses of the drug.

North Northumberland coroner Tony Brown heard how nurses at the hospital took the view that Mr Elsdon was dying, so treatment should be stopped under the so-called Liverpool care pathway, an outline of how a patient can expect to be looked after in their final hours of life.

Hospital staff claimed Mrs Elsdon was aware of that and that she was prepared for them to sign a form stating that resuscitation would not be attempted if her husband’s heart stopped.

However, Mrs Elsdon denies both claims.

The inquest, held at Wansbeck Business Park in Ashington, also heard Mrs Elsdon claim that she tried to persuade staff at the hospital to resume treatment after seeing an improvement in her husband’s blood pressure.

Mr Elsdon died from liver failure the day after his admission.

Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Elsdon said she was considering legal action against the trust over what she says was neglect by medical staff.

Mrs Elsdon said: “I’m not disputing anything about his liver, but what I am disputing is his care and the way he was treated before he died.

“I’m so angry that the hospital wouldn’t reconsider their decision to give him any further treatment.

“To me, once you are on that Liverpool care path, you’re dead.”

The trust has defended its care of Mr Elsdon.

A spokesperson said: “We would like to express our deepest sympathies to Mr Elsdon’s family at this difficult time.

“The care given to Mr Elsdon was entirely appropriate and of the highest standard.

“It is our policy to involve patients’ families at all stages of their care, and our clinical teams discussed Mr Elsdon’s care with his family at length.

“We did everything we could for Mr Elsdon.”

Mr Elsdon, a former pitman, is survived by wife Janis, and children Stacy, 30, and Gary, 29.

Mrs Elsdon, owner of the Maisie Bows baby shop in Ashington, said: “James was just a big, jolly, gentle giant, and he is a big miss.

“We have seven grandchildren, and he’s a big miss in their lives.”

“It’s been hard to explain to them what has happened.”

The coroner recorded a narrative verdict.