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Last Updated: Monday, 28 August 2006, 23:36 GMT 00:36 UK
'Nobody would help my father'
Herbert Webster
Mr Webster was confused in hospital
Bert Webster's problems were far from over when he was admitted to hospital with a lung infection, following a fall at home.

Bert weighed just 44.3 kg (seven stone) when he was admitted to hospital in north London in October 2005.

But during his three month stay the 77-year-old lost another 2kg from his spare frame.

His family say he had a miserable time in hospital.

They say he was given no support to eat his food at all despite his vulnerable condition.

Not only was he struggling with a lung infection, he had also recently had a stroke, and was battling vascular dementia.

Bert's daughter, Lisa MacMurdie, said his meals would just be left on his tray, even though he was unable to cut up his food, let alone eat it.

He said the only support he got to eat was from visiting relatives. This meant he would often go hungry.

Lisa said her father's weight should have been monitored weekly - but this failed to happen.

Lisa MacMurdie
Lisa was concerned at the lack of help for her father

Owing to his confused state, Herbert would often spoon his food from the hospital tray into his bed.

Sometimes, he would even try and feed himself with a knife, which could have lead to a serious injury.

The lack of supervision by hospital staff meant that he was missing out on vital nutrition to aid his recovery and, as a consequence, his weight continued to plummet.

To make matters worse, on one occasion Herbert soiled himself as he had become so miserable and confused.

Clothes dumped

Lisa said the clothes he was wearing at the time were taken off him and dumped under his bed.

We take nutrition extremely seriously and are always looking for ways to improve the service we provide
Chase Farm Hospital

They remained there for several days until Lisa discovered them by chance, when she came to visit him.

Lisa complained on several occasions to hospital staff, but as her father was being moved from ward to ward the cycle of neglect would continue.

Since her father's ordeal, Lisa has made a formal complaint to the hospital.

She is, however, less than satisfied with the response.

She accused the hospital of being very dismissive, and said managers had yet to acknowledge a lack of care and supervision on their part.

Lisa said: "It's shocking that human beings are being treated in this way.

"My father was stripped of his dignity and his health was put at serious risk.

"We have reached a very worrying stage when you can't rely on hospitals to adequately feed their patients, or give them help to eat, if needed."

Individual needs

Lisa said hospitals had to pay closer attention to the needs of individual patients.

"Dad was the man in the corner who kind of got forgotten because he was furthest away from the nurses' station."

Since being transferred to a care home, Herbert's weight has increased to 54.2kg (eight stone five pounds).

Bert and his daughter explain his experience

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