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Downham Market surgery’s operator says sorry to family after death

Following the death of her 90-year-old mother, the daughter has said a surgery’s handling of the situation was “disrespectful”.

Edith Broad, known as June, passed away on June 29 at her Downham home having previously been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Her daughter Rosemary Chandler has said the Hollies Surgery wanted to verify Edith was dead through a video call rather than a doctor attending the house in person.

Edith 'June' Broad. Picture: SUBMITTED
Edith 'June' Broad. Picture: SUBMITTED

She said: “It was just so awful as she is right next door to the doctor’s and it was just so disrespectful to a 90-year-old woman who was a wonderful person.

“To be told the doctor wanted to speak by video call was just horrible. I am not very technical so I was horrified from that point of view as well as it being disrespectful.”

The surgery, which is located on Paradise Road, is operated by Vida Healthcare, an NHS partnership.

A spokeswoman for Vida said: “We recognise this is a distressing time for the patient’s family and our thoughts and sympathies are with them.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the British Medical Association (BMA) has issued guidance that an expected death out of hospital can be verified via video consultation once a GP has established that the person in attendance is content and feels comfortable to assist the process.

“We are very sorry if this has caused any further upset to the family involved.”

Edith’s daughter said the care workers present at the time could not believe the surgery were conducting the procedure through video communications.

She added: “I do not want this to be a witch-hunt but in this day and age, with emphasis on caring for mental health and well-being, treating people in this way is not human.

“I am nearly 64 and I am very respectful of the NHS but this really gave you something else to be angry and sad about; to know that at the end of your mother’s life, she was neglected.

“The reason given to us was ‘It is Monday morning and we are very busy’. Myself and two of my siblings made it very clear we were not at all comfortable with this procedure.”

Rather than conducting the video call, Edith was taken to the funeral directors where her death was later certified.

Her daughter added: “I have never heard of anything like this before. I know it is different times but it has left us in shock.”

She described her mother’s condition as a “very aggressive cancer” and she was not expected to live for an extra year-and-a-half.

She added: “The care my mother received from the community nurses, the palliative care nursesand her carers was amazing and made her last few months dignified and as happy as could be.”

Verification of death is the process of identifying a person has died. It has nothing to do with providing a death certificate or identifying the cause of death.

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