My hospital heroes

Thomas Higgins who has nothing but praise for staff at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and (below) Sharon Braithwaite and David.
Thomas Higgins who has nothing but praise for staff at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and (below) Sharon Braithwaite and David.
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AS an investigation is launched into death rates in Blackpool hospitals, health reporter Emma Harris looks at stories highlighting the good and bad on the wards.

BLACKPOOL pensioner Thomas Higgins could not believe it when he saw the news about a major inquiry being launched into high death rates at 
Fylde coast hospitals.

Sharon Braithwaite and David

Sharon Braithwaite and David

The Gazette told on Thursday how Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is one of five trusts to be investigated by the NHS Commissioning Board after worryingly high mortality rates for two years running.

Hospital bosses say latest statistics show a different story and their own inquiry into mortality data found no areas of concern over patient care.

And father-of-two Mr Higgins, 75, says after seven operations in 10 years at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, he has nothing but praise for the doctors and nurses who saved his life after he suffered a perforated gullet and had to undergo complex surgery at The Vic. Doctors removed almsot all of his gullet, then performed a delicate procedure to lift his stomach up towards his neck.

Mr Higgins, of Hornby Road, said: “They looked after me so well. I cannot fault the care I was given.

“The surgeon was fantastic, he saved my life.

“There’s a lot of bad press about the hospital, so I wanted to let people know they do a good job. With the problems I had, 95 per of people die. The hospital was wonderful.”

‘Pleased’ by hospital death probe

A WOMAN whose husband died at Blackpool Victoria Hospital – just nine weeks after their wedding day – says she was “disappointed” to hear of the investigation.

Sharon Braithwaite lost husband David in 2005, when he was 38, after he contracted superbug MRSA.

She said she hoped lessons would have been learned from her case.

The hospital trust agreed to settle out of court in Mrs Braithwaite’s case.

Her husband had been transferred to the Vic in September 2005 for urgent heart surgery.

However, the procedure was delayed by two weeks. Mr Braithwaite remained as an inpatient, sharing facilities with what later transpired as another patient who had MRSA.

He contracted the virus and surgery was further delayed while he was 

Four weeks after entering The Vic, Mr Braithwaite was due to have his operation, but sadly died that morning.

Mrs Braithwaite, 43, of Eccleston Bridge, near Chorley, said: “We should have had a lifetime to look forward to.

“I felt disappointed to read about the investigation.

“Part of the reason for bringing my case was for lessons to be learned, to try to stop it happening to others.

“I will never get David back, but I’m pleased the hospital is under investigation.”

Marie Thompson, director of nursing and quality at the Vic, said: “We encourage patients or family members who have concerns to meet with senior clinicians or our directors to discuss aspects of our service they feel unhappy about.

“All patient complaints are taken very seriously and are robustly investigated by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.”

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