PARSON DROVE: Pensioner wins compensation from hospital he blames for wife's death

By MAGGIE GIBSON PENSIONER Max Alden has won £12,500 compensation from the hospital he blames for his wife s death. Mr Alden has successfully claimed compensation from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King s Lynn after the death of his wife. Sixty-seven-ye


PENSIONER Max Alden has won £12,500 compensation from the hospital he blames for his wife's death.

Mr Alden has successfully claimed compensation from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn after the death of his wife.

Sixty-seven-year-old grandmother Jean Alden was admitted with breathing difficulties but died after catching a super bug at the hospital in June 2006.

The hospital has paid compensation totalling £12,500 to her husband, Max, who says he is shocked and appalled at the treatment his wife received.

Mr Alden, 70, said: "It's not about the money, nothing can bring my wife back. I just want to warn other people and hope that something gets done about how people are treated at the Queen Elizabeth.

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"I am angry and want to publicise what goes on so other families don't have to go through the same thing. Lots of people have no one to fight their corner and that must feel terrible and very frightening as well. Once you reach retirement age it's as though you are written off by hospitals and it's not right."

Londoners Mr and Mrs Alden moved to the area 30 years ago and settled in Parson Drove 20 years ago. The couple who have three children and seven grandchildren would have celebrated their golden wedding anniversary this year.

Mrs Alden died a month after being admitted to hospital after contracting clostridium difficile.

The compensation claim has been handled by Richard Barr, a clinical negligence and personal injury specialist at law firm Fraser Dawbarns which has offices in both Wisbech and March. Mr Barr said Mrs Alden's family felt that she had been neglected by the hospital in her final days.

He said: "Mr Alden even had to empty his wife's commode and he felt that the standard of cleanliness in the hospital left a great deal to be desired.

"The hospital never admitted liability but they did apologise to Mr Alden for what he and his family had been put through and what his wife had been through prior to her death. The fact that the hospital was prepared to make a substantial payment indicates that they do accept some responsibility for what happened."

Mr Alden, a former construction foreman, said his family believed Mrs Alden would be discharged for her birthday at the end of May.

He said: "On one occasion at night she had been calling for a bedpan and no one came so she tried to get up and go to the toilet. She could not get there in time and slipped on her own diarrhoea.

"I was told she had a perforated bowel and she was being taken down to theatre for an operation. She never did have an operation because they realised she didn't have a perforated bowel. They put in her in intensive care and said she had a two per cent chance of survival. We were never told it was a bug.

"When I look back I'm angry with myself for not asking more questions and insisting on better care, but when someone goes into hospital you believe they are being taken care of. I just didn't realise how ill she was and the final couple of days came as a real shock. We had been reassured that she would be coming home.

"At the end of the day I just wanted someone to say they were sorry for what happened and for someone to take responsibility and I want lessons to be learned from the poor standards of care."

A hospital spokesman confirmed that a settlement was made "without admission of liability" on the advice of solicitors acting for the NHS Litigation Authority at national level, in connection with cases of Clostridium difficile.

He said: "This patient was admitted to hospital with a complex condition and although she received appropriate treatment she was unable to fight-off a later infection. We have already apologised to the family.

"Clostridium difficile can occur as one of the normal bacteria in healthy adults without causing problems. But it can cause illness when certain antibiotics disturb the balance of normal bacteria in the body. People over the age of 65 are more at risk.

"Since 2006 we have introduced strict antibiotic guidelines and have opened an isolation unit where patients with Clostridium difficile can be cared for by a specialist team.