Page last updated at 19:12 GMT, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Payout over veteran neglect death

Kenneth Ballinger
Mr Ballinger was a veteran of the Normandy landings

The family of a Leeds war veteran who died from horrific bed sores after a series of care failings have been paid £20,000 by a hospital trust.

Kenneth Ballinger, 86, was admitted to Leeds General Infirmary after a fall but died from multiple infected bed sores - one the size of a fist.

His daughter said she was haunted by her father's screams of agony.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said mistakes were made and an out-of-court settlement was made with the family.

Mr Ballinger, a veteran of the World War II Normandy landings, was admitted to hospital in January 2006 after a fall at his home in Beeston.

He became infected with a superbug and later developed bed sores so severe that his left hip bone became exposed and he was left with no skin on his heels.

On the one occasion he did need something back from his country, his needs were ignored
Carol-Ann Knott, Mr Ballinger's daughter

He was discharged but died five months later after the bed sores became infected and he was admitted to Pontefract General Infirmary.

His daughter Carol-Ann Knott said: "I'll be forever haunted by his screams as my father was brought up in the lift at Pontefract General Infirmary.

"The doctors were so appalled that he had been allowed to get in such a state, with a sore so big one of them could fit his fist into the open wound.

"He said that he had never seen anything like it in his life."

Soiled bedding

The hospital trust admitted mistakes were made after Ms Knott started legal action.

Evidence gathered by the family's lawyers pointed to "uncoordinated and unevaluated care".

Failings included not carrying out a pressure sore prevention plan within 24 hours of Mr Ballinger's admission, leaving him in soiled bedding and leaving him to feed himself despite being aware he was unable to do this.

Mr Ballinger's daughter and granddaughter are calling for changes in elderly care

Ms Knott said: "My father was a proud and active member of the Royal British Legion who hadn't been in hospital for over 60 years since his time as a soldier.

"He worked hard all his life and never expected anything from anyone.

"On the one occasion he did need something back from his country, his needs were ignored."

Ms Knott is now campaigning for better care for the elderly.

"I can only hope that as a result of this, active means are being put in place to prevent it ever happening again."

A spokesman for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said: "We recognise that, regrettably, the measures to prevent Mr Ballinger suffering pressure ulcers did not meet the standards the trust strives to achieve.

"The trust accepts that mistakes were made and that these caused distress to Mr Ballinger and his family, and we have apologised for this."

The spokesman said a number of steps had since been taken to improve the way the trust deals with pressure ulcers.

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