Mum ‘begged for life’ at doctor’s appointment where she was forced to attend alone

A mum was forced to attend a doctor’s appointment alone, where she was told that she was tragically going to die.

Gwendoline Bates, 72, was informed that her cancer had returned and was terminal in June 2020.

The hospital refused to let her daughter attend the appointment with her due to Covid-19 restrictions – instead she had to hear her mum ‘beg for her life’ over the phone, unable to comfort her, Cheshire Live writes.

Gwen, from Middlewich, tragically died just five weeks after this meeting.

Her family have been left traumatized by the incident, slamming the lack of humanity that was shown from the hospital.

In April 2019, Gwen had her last round of radiotherapy for lung cancer. Ten months later, she was given the all clear.

Yet, she continued to feel unwell and so her family took her to a doctor, who suggested the pain might be arthritis related. A rheumatologist ruled this out and referred Gwen for a scan.

She attended an appointment at Leighton Hospital’s Macmillan Center in Crewe on June 23, 2020, accompanied by her daughter Julie Bates.

Julie, now 48, was shielding with her mother due to suffering from Multiple Sclerosis.

The teaching assistant said: “I took mum to the Macmillan Centre, not really sure what to expect in all honesty.

“I wheeled mum in, because mum was in a wheelchair at this point because walking was very difficult.

“They said I couldn’t go in with her. I said, ‘but I’m her lack of her, I’ve been shielding with mum now since March, I’ve not been anywhere!’ “

Gwen with her husband of 52 years, Tony
Gwen with her husband of 52 years, Tony

Julie asked if they could go in a separate room to attend the meeting together, as she did not want to leave her ailing mother alone.

“She’s my mum and she’s not well enough,” Julie said she explained to the staff, “She might not even understand what you’re saying to her, and it will be taking me for any treatment.”

The hospital refused, insisting Gwen attend the meeting in-person and offering Julie a phone call to listen in to the meeting instead.

“We weren’t very happy,” Julie said, “I did try and object as much as I could, but they were very adamant.”

Gwen was wheeled away to the meeting and Julie went back to her car to listen in over the phone.

They were told the tragic news that Gwen’s cancer had returned, and that there was nothing more the doctors could do.

Julie recounted the moment her mother “begged for her life”, alone in the hospital, as she was told she had six to 12 months left to live.

“She said, ‘Is there anything I can do? I’ll do anything. What surgery can I have? What can I do? Can we pay for something?’”

The doctor said there was nothing that could be done, and that there would not be another appointment.

Julie said: “I got out of my car to go and get mum. I couldn’t get in the doors.

“She was sobbing, her body was shaking, and I couldn’t get her. I was at the other side of a pane of glass.

“I couldn’t even hold her hand, she was on her own.

“We could have sat in a broom cupboard. I could have been with her, I could have held her hand from her.

Julie believes there was “no need” for her mother to attend that final appointment alone, especially with technology such as Zoom, calling the situation “inhumane”.

“Not when they knew what was on those scans,” she continued, “They knew what they were going to tell us. The least they could have done is let her have that comfort of somebody being with her.

“I can go to work and work with 60 children, that’s okay. But I couldn’t go with my mum.”

Sadly, the cancer quickly spread through Gwen’s body and she died five weeks later on July 31, 2020.

In the five weeks between the final appointment and Gwen’s death, Julie was forced to become her mum’s full-time carer.

She said: “Mum developed wounds in her legs and they were weeping. We couldn’t get anyone to come out and help dress them.

“I became basically a nurse with no training. I had no idea what I was doing.

“We had nobody to come out at night and help. I did 24/7 with my mom. We were just completely isolated, we just felt abandoned.

Leighton Hospital, Crewe
Leighton Hospital, Crewe

They struggled to contact the surgery for painkillers, as the spreading cancer left Gwen in agony.

Julie was also forced to buy dressing off the internet as she was not supplied with enough.

“Was my mom not important? Because that’s how it feels,” Julie said, “I remember my mum saying, ‘I think they just want me to die’, and that’s how she felt.”

Her family have struggled with the events of Gwen’s final five weeks.

Julie’s adult daughter was hospitalized after having a breakdown, as “she couldn’t cope with her nan going so quick”.

The traumatic experience caused Julie to have an MS relapse, and she now suffers from flashbacks about the suddenness of her dear mum’s death.

“I would hate for anybody else to have to go through it. It’s wrong,” Julie said, “There’s not just Covid in this world. There are other things, and it didn’t need to be done that way.

“I think they forgot that we are human and have emotions.”

Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have said they understand these situations are difficult, especially in the face of bad news.

A spokesperson said: “We are unable to comment in detail about individual patients due to confidentiality reasons but would like to emphasize that we take any issues raised regarding a patient’s care very seriously.

“The Trust has, and continues to, follow national guidance in relation to visiting restrictions including visitors accompanying a patient to an appointment. Since the first wave of Covid, visiting has been restricted to ensure the safety of our patients, including those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

“We understand this can be difficult for our patients and families, especially when hearing difficult news. The Trust offers telephone and video appointments as an alternative and continues to do so to support families as much as possible.

“We would like to offer our sincere condolences and encourage the family to get in touch with our Customer Care Team so that further support and information can be provided.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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