“I WILL never give up fighting to find out why my daughter left this world before me.”
That is the heartfelt declaration from devastated Burnley mum Barbara Bacon who believes there are still questions to be answered after East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust admitted negligence over the death of her daughter.
Roxanne Louise Bacon (39), of Kiddrow Lane, died at Burnley General Hospital in August, 2006, leaving her four children, aged 16, 14, 12 and nine at the time. She had spent the last five years of her life battling severe liver damage following complications after a routine dental operation to remove wisdom teeth.
Despite battling the disease and returning to near full health, she was taken into Burnley General Hospital on Saturday, August 5th, after feeling unwell. She died on the Monday with her death attributed to sepsis and pneumonia.
Roxanne’s mum was never happy with the treatment given at Burnley General (Manchester Royal Infirmary had been her hospital of care) and after a four-year legal battle received a four-paragraph apology from the Trust just before Christmas admitting negligence.
Then, last month, each of Roxanne’s four children were awarded £1,000 a year until they turn 18 while Roxanne was given £1,200 posthumously.
“It’s a real insult especially when you consider the solicitors’ fees come to pretty much the same amount,” said Mrs Bacon, of Lowerhouse Lane. “It was never about the money but that coupled with their short apology is not right. All I have ever wanted is to just know how my daughter died. I wanted the truth, accountability and responsibility but that is not what we have received.
“They have basically valued her life at £1,200 and the love and care she gave her children at just £1,000 a year. It’s heartbreaking.”
A section of the Trust’s letter sent to Mrs Bacon reads: “I would like to express my sincere apologies for the failings that occurred in the management of your daughter’s illness which resulted in her untimely death on August 7th, 2006. I am very sorry the standard of care on this occasion fell below that which you were entitled to expect from the Trust.”
A perplexed Mrs Bacon said: “That is all we have had and now they have had to pay this bit of money they can just wash their hands of it. The worst thing is that if we hadn’t gone down the legal route we wouldn’t have even got an apology.”
Mrs Bacon said she warned staff at Burnley many times that Manchester Royal Infirmary was Roxanne’s hospital of care when Roxanne was brought in but nobody listened.
“She was transferred to the Medical Assessment Unit but they did just not seem that concerned about her. In fact, they told us she would be back home the next day. All they kept saying was that Burnley was more than capable of dealing with Roxanne’s condition. We pointed out though that they were not her hospital of care and she needed to be there but nobody seemed bothered.”
Despite meeting hospital executives shortly after Roxanne’s death, Mrs Bacon said no answers were forthcoming and the only option was to take the legal route.
“At the time I thought ‘good’ as it would mean we’d get answers. I thought we would get an inquest for Roxanne which is what I wanted. I just wanted to know what happened to my daughter. I didn’t want the children thinking their mother had given up, I knew there was something else to it.
“The last four-and-a-half years have been an absolute nightmare. Documents and blood tests had been lost, forms misplaced. Fortunately they found the forms that detailed her 45 hours’ treatment at the hospital or lack of treatment. It showed they had given her two oral antibiotics, which she had thrown up, and they had written her up for one dose of broad-spectrum antibiotics. She was never given this, though, despite three doctors looking at the notes. One of the consultants who was overlooking the case on our behalf said that if she had been given this there was a good chance she would have lived.”
Mrs Bacon said she is now more determined than ever to find out the truth and will take her case to the General Medical Council.
“It’s still not resolved. I want to know why she was never given an inquest and I want the truth. If this had happened in a private hospital I imagine people would be facing criminal charges. Although I know getting an inquest now is not very likely I’m not going to give up. Roxanne has a granddaughter, named after her, who she never saw. She should be alive to see her and I want to know all the reasons why she isn’t.”