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Woman with learning difficulties was alone when told she was dying
5:50pm Wednesday 2nd October 2013 in Local News
A GRIEVING daughter told how her late mum, who had learning difficulties, was told she was dying of cancer without a responsible adult present.
Louise Szluk is furious her late mother, Dawn Candy, 54, was told the news while alone in her Basildon Hospital bed and is now considering legal action.
She said Mrs Candy, who needed to be reminded to do simple tasks, including taking her medication and switching her oven off, was put through an unnecessary trauma.
Basildon Hospital investigated after Mrs Szluk made a complaint.
Mrs Szluk, and other family members, had expressly said Mrs Candy might struggle to grasp information about her condition and had ordered the hospital to only tell Mrs Candy about her health, if they were present.
But the hospital’s investigation concluded Mrs Candy had the capacity to understand and it was her right to ask information about her welfare.
Mrs Szluk, 30, who now lives in Gillingham, in Kent, is considering taking legal action against the hospital. She will meet with doctors on Monday.
She said: “The hospital is disgusting – the treatment is horrible. She was not able to deal with it by herself.
“She would have just blocked it out and been really frightened.
Someone without learning difficulties wouldn’t be able to handle that, let alone someone with learning difficulties.”
Mrs Candy was living in a care home in Stanford-le-Hope when she was admitted to Basildon Hospital on May 5 last year.
She had suffered breast cancer in the past and was told her cancer could have spread on May 9.
Doctors found it had returned to her breast and moved to her bones, lung and liver.
It was explained on May 23 by a consultant doctor and a disability specialist nurse.
She was not well enough for chemotherapy and she was transferred to a hospice on May 29. She died on January 1.
In the investigation document, hospital chief executive Clare Panniker said: “While I fully appreciate the concerns raised regarding the distress caused to Mrs Candy receiving such sensitive information whilst alone, as she requested information on her condition, she had the right to be informed. I can only apologise for the upset this has caused.”
The investigation also claimed that Mrs Candy didn’t want her relatives told about her condition.
But Mrs Szluk added: “None of it makes any sense.
“If she had a runny nose she would call me to complain about it. It wasn’t my mum.
“I can’t see us getting anywhere with the meeting on Monday. I have enough proof that my mum did have learning difficulties and I am now considering legal action.”
A spokesman for Basildon Hospital said: “We would like to offer our condolences to the family of Dawn Candy.
“We are sorry that Mrs Szluk still has concerns about how her mother was kept informed about her condition and treatment. We have fully investigated the issues raised by Mrs Szluk and have responded in writing. We have also offered to meet with Mrs Candy’s family to discuss any ongoing concerns, and this meeting is taking place next week.”
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