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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 September 2006, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Coroner criticises 'chaotic' care
John Pollard courtesy of the Manchester Evening News
Mr Pollard is writing to the trust's chief executive
A coroner is set to complain to a hospital chief executive after branding the care of several elderly patients, who died, as "chaotic and despicable".

Mr John Pollard is to write to the boss of Tameside General Hospital following four inquests.

"When I see standards fall below those which I think are proper and acceptable I am going to make my views known," Mr Pollard told the BBC.

Tameside and Glossop NHS Trust said it is investigating his allegations.

The coroner added: "If people don't like that I'm sorry but it is part of my duty to the community.

Tameside General Hospital
It's generally the case that the work done by the surgeons or physicians is good work - it is the basic care that is lacking
John Pollard, coroner

"I don't want to over-dramatise things and call this the tip of an iceberg, but what I do know is that on a regular basis I come across complaints from families about the care of patients in hospitals.

"It's generally the case that the work done by the surgeons or physicians is good work - it is the basic care that is lacking and hospitals are letting themselves down."

He also said: "What I'm trying to do is ensure that standards in all hospitals in my jurisdiction are improved constantly so the people of the area are properly looked after in hospital... and are afforded a level of dignity all of us are entitled to expect."

Mr Pollard heard claims from the family of Watkin Davies, 84, from Ashton Under Lyne, that he was left in his own excrement with open wounds.

The coroner said the care given to Mr Davies was "absolutely despicable".

He described the treatment of Hilda Douglas, 75, from Audenshaw, who died of severe heart failure after admission for a fit, as "chaotic".

The relatives of Mrs Douglas told him she was left in a narrow bed with no cot sides in A&E, staff could not find her medical notes and the medicine her family brought was trampled on the floor and not taken with her to her ward.

'Naturally concerned'

Recording a misadventure verdict on Raymond Lees, 75, of Ashton, Mr Pollard heard his family describe the standard of care as "shameful and inhumane".

Mr Lees, who contracted MRSA after a knee operation, saw his waistline drop from 46 inches to 32.

A statement from the trust said it was "naturally concerned to read about the coroner's allegations" and it would act on the results of an internal investigation.

It added: "Last year, the trust improved monitoring of its clinical areas with the introduction of matron's rounds."

Health Minister Andy Burnham said he was assured appropriate action would be taken by the trust.

Watch the report from Fiona Trott

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