Mother of alcoholic man failed by Canterbury DHB 'disgusted' by his care

by RNZ / 08 September, 2017

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Christchurch Hospital Photo / Karen Brown

Canterbury DHB admits it failed Neil Jones.

Animals are treated better than the alcoholic man who died two days after Christchurch Hospital dumped him at a bus shelter, his mother says.

The hospital and the police have been criticised by the local coroner over the death of Neil David Jones in 2013.

The 47-year-old died of alcoholic liver disease two days after being discharged on the orders of a doctor who had concluded he was soiling himself on purpose.

In his report released yesterday, Coroner Michael Robb noted that nurses and security guards questioned the decision, saying Mr Jones was too ill and had nowhere to go.

After lying in the bus stop for several hours, Mr Jones was brought into the emergency department, but not assessed.

Police took him to the Christchurch City Mission, where he began vomiting blood.

He was then readmitted to hospital, where he died two days later.

Mr Robb criticised the decision to discharge Mr Jones and the failure to assess him properly.

Mr Jones' mother, Joan, said she was disgusted at the hospital's actions. Even though he was an alcoholic, he was dying and should never have been kicked out onto the street, she said.

"With dogs and things like that, you'd have put them down or you'd look after them. You wouldn't let them die like that on the street, in the bus shelter all day," she said.

Mr Jones spent most of the day lying in the bus stop where passers-by tried to get doctors to help him.

"The hospital kept saying 'no, it's fine, he's only putting it on, leave him alone'... they didn't want to know," Mrs Jones said.

"They were saying that he was only looking for attention, that he was faking it.

"I was disgusted, I just really couldn't believe it. I still find it very hard to believe to be quite honest."

When Mrs Jones made it to the hospital, after her son had been taken back by ambulance, she said he was, "Yellow, eyes rolled back, his mouth was open and his head was going from side to side ... He couldn't talk."

When she asked hospital staff about the trespass notice next to his bed, Mrs Jones said she was given the runaround.

Canterbury DHB chief executive David Meates said he had personally apologised to Mr Jones' family.

"As a system we failed Neil, in not providing the level of care and treatment he needed."

He said the coroner's report made sobering reading, but he was confident that changes made in the past four years would stop similar tragedies from happening.

Mrs Jones said she had accepted the apology and hoped no family ever again experienced that sort of treatment.

This article was originally published by RNZ.

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