Anguished Elgin mum blames NHS Grampian for sister’s death

© JASPERIMAGEKathleen Walker with a picture of her sister Jean Robertson who died at Dr Grays Hospital in Elgin.
Kathleen Walker with a picture of her sister Jean Robertson who died at Dr Grays Hospital in Elgin.

A grieving Elgin mum has accused NHS Grampian of failing her sister who died after a fall.

Jean Robertson fell at home and hit her head on the edge of an open window in May 2017.

But despite being drowsy and confused when she was treated at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin, she was discharged and sent home that day.

The next day she was re-admitted with a high heart rate and shortness of breath. Her condition further deteriorated and she died.


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Now a public watchdog has ruled that the health board failed to treat Miss Robertson properly – first by sending her home against head injury guidelines, and secondly for giving her medication she was allergic to.

NHS Grampian last night apologised to Miss Robertson’s family, and admitted the care had fallen below standard.

Miss Robertson’s sister, Kathleen Walker – who complained to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman – said she felt completely let down by the health service.

She said: “They could have done more and better for her, as she was perfectly fine the first day and I feel like if she was treated properly, she would still be here today.

“I’m still angry about it, the system let her down and Dr Gray’s let us down and I hope it does not happen to any other families.”

Miss Robertson fell at home and hit her head on the edge of an open window on May 25, 2017.

The 73-year-old went to the accident and emergency department at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin, where her wound was glued shut and she was discharged.

But she was re-admitted the next day suffering from a high heart rate and shortness of breath. Her condition deteriorated overnight and she was declared dead the next day.

Unsatisfied with her sister’s care, Mrs Walker complained to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

Mrs Walker said: “I went to visit her the day she was re-admitted and she was perfectly fine, talking away to us and asked to see her child nephews.

“The nurses said that she was recovering and that when they sent her home, she would be given extra care and help which Jean was absolutely delighted with.

“A phone call then came in out of the blue on the Sunday where we were told that she had taken not well during the night, and that they were trying to keep her stable but if not they would not resuscitate her.

“I don’t understand how her condition had changed so quickly during the night and was very angry with them.

© DC Thomson
Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin.

“I was upset that no one could tell me anything and that it seemed like no one had helped her properly.”

The SPSO investigation found that staff had not given Miss Robertson a head scan after her initial fall, despite her reduced level of consciousness and confusion. They also raised concern she had been discharged against the SIGN head injury guidance.

The watchdog also discovered that after Miss Robertson had been readmitted, she was given morphine and beta-blockers through the night – despite being allergic to them.

The ombudsman also ruled that the health board had failed to communicate appropriately with Miss Robertson’s next of kin, and did not contact them when her condition worsened during the night of May 27.

NHS Grampian apologised to Miss Robertson’s family last night.

A spokeswoman said: “Firstly we would like to take this opportunity to apologise to Ms Robertson’s family. The care we provided fell below the standards we aspire to.

“We have received the ombudsman’s final report and accept all the recommendations contained within it. This information has been passed to the service involved and recommendations will be completed within the timeframes specified.”​

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