A CORONER has severely criticised a mental health hospital which treated a great-grandad shortly before he died.

At Bolton Coroner’s Court John Pollard described the errors made at Woodlands Hospital, Little Hulton, after 79-year-old John Smith was admitted, as “shocking”.

An inquest into the retired housing resettlement officer’s death heard how he had been suffering from vascular dementia for several years and, by November 23 2016, it was decided that it was no longer safe for him to remain at his Brentwood Drive, Farnworth, home where he was being cared for by his wife, Doreen.

But Mr Pollard was told that, within an hour of arriving at the hospital he had fallen and cut his head.

Then, an ambulance did not arrive to take him for a check -up at the Royal Bolton until the following morning.

He was also wrongly given medication which had previously been discontinued by his GP. Over several days, as he lost weight and became dehydrated, proper records were not kept of his fluid and food intake.

"It is a shocking state — shocking isn’t it?” said Mr Pollard

“An awful lot of things went wrong with Mr Smith’s care.”

He added: “I look at the situation sometimes and step back in total amazement that you cannot organise things better.”

But, after hearing all the evidence Mr Pollard concluded that, although Mr Smith’s care at Woodlands had been ‘sub-optimal’ it did not contribute to his death, which Home Office pathologist Dr Naomi Carter had recorded as being due to pneumonia and acute bronchitis with vascular dementia a contributing factor.

Mr Pollard recorded a conclusion that Mr Smith died from natural causes but added that the dehydration he had suffered did not ‘more than minimally contribute to the cognitive decline’.

However, he added: “Certain aspects of his care did go wrong. I don’t think he should have become as dehydrated as he did.”

And he was critical of statements given by some members of Woodlands staff which he stated showed a ‘lack of credibility’.

Woodlands’ consultant psychiatrist Dr Alice Seabourne acknowledged Mr Smith’s care could have been better and said that procedures have now been tightened to ensure the errors are not repeated.

The inquest heard that Mr Smith weighed 63kg when he was admitted to the Woodlands Hospital, but when his post mortem was carried out after his death two and a half weeks later on December 11 it had dropped to 54kg.

Doctors who admitted him to the Royal Bolton Hospital on November 29 found he was severely dehydrated and placed him on a intravenous fluids.

The inquest heard that Mr Smith’s family had become increasingly concerned about his condition during his stay in Woodlands and that on November 29 his wife and daughter arrived to visit him and found him unclothed from the waist down and in a semi-conscious state.

“I thought he was dying,” his daughter Elaine Massey told the court.

Blood tests revealed he was dehydrated and his family insisted he be sent immediately to the Royal Bolton Hospital, although medical staff were planning to send him the following day as a planned admission rather than subjecting the pensioner to the busy accident and emergency department.

The court was told that bank nurses at Woodlands had not been filling in records properly of what Mr Smith had been eating and drinking and so doctors were not aware that he was becoming so dehydrated.

Ward manager Nigel Figgins accepted the record keeping had not been acceptable and when asked by the coroner to rate note keeping on a scale of one to ten, replied, ‘a one’. After he was transferred to the Royal Bolton Hospital Mr Smith continued to deteriorate, refusing to eat or drink and died 12 days later.

Speaking after the inquest Mrs Massey said she was disappointed with the conclusion the coroner had reached as the family were hoping he would rule the father-of-four had died due to neglect.

As a result of Mr Smith’s death, procedures at the Woodlands have been tightened but the family is determined to take the matter further.

“We will now make a formal complaint to the NHS about his care,” said Mrs Massey. I don’t want this to happen to another person.”

Mr Smith’s widow Doreen said: “He was a wonderful man. He helped everyone and would fight their corner.”

Mrs Massey added that she is determined to do the same for her father.

“If I hadn’t have pursued this he would have turned in his grave,” she said.

“I need to make sure other people who go into there [Woodlands] are safeguarded.”

After the inquest Gill Green, director of nursing and governance for Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are deeply sorry for the circumstances surrounding the care and treatment of Mr Smith.

"We have undertaken a thorough root cause analysis of Mr Smith’s care and treatment and shared all our findings with the coroner. As a learning organisation, we have fully reviewed what happened and put in place a number of actions, which aim to stop this set of circumstances from happening again.

“The lead investigator met with Mr Smith’s family to keep them updated with progress and we remain open to meeting with them again if they wish.

“In the meantime, we offer our sincerest condolences to Mr Smith’s family.”