A widow's family has demanded to know why she was left to die without dignity' in hospital.

Margaret Barraclough, the daughter of 85-year-old Marjorie Holey, said her mother's treatment in Bradford Royal Infirmary and St Luke's Hospital in the weeks leading up to her death was a "horror story".

An investigation has been carried out by Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust into Mrs Holey's treatment which has resulted in an action plan being devised, staffing changed and an apology.

But the case has now been referred to independent health watchdog, the Healthcare Commission, because Mrs Holey's family are not satisfied.

Mrs Holey's family want to know:

  • why she was discharged from hospital despite suffering from pneumonia
  • why, when she collapsed three hours after being discharged, breaking her hip, it was undiagnosed for eight days
Mrs Holey's broken hip meant she had to undergo a hip replacement or face being bedridden for the rest of her life.

The operation took place at BRI on August 22 this year. Mrs Holey died in her hospital bed the next day. To compound the family's grief the wrong cause of death was recorded on her death certificate, resulting in a post-mortem examination having to be carried out at the coroner's request to establish the real cause of death.

The family say Mrs Holey was unwashed and dressed in dirty night clothes before she died and suffered pain because nurses failed to inflate an air mattress. "Our mother wasn't given the best care and died without dignity, feeling nobody in that hospital cared about her," said Mrs Barraclough, 57, of Brighouse.

Mrs Holey, who had three children, nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren and served in the Army during the Second World War, suffered from the lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

She was admitted to ward three at BRI on August 5 on the advice of an emergency doctor who believed she had pneumonia. A chest x-ray was carried out and the family say doctors confirmed she had pneumonia.

Mrs Holey was transferred to St Luke's for treatment before being discharged to Willow Bank Nurs-ing Home in Allerton on August 9, where she had lived since June.

Three hours later she was found collapsed by staff and taken to BRI. It was not until eight days later an x-ray was ordered and the broken hip was found. When the family tried to raise concerns with Mrs Holey's nurse, they claim they found her rude and dismissive.

Despite reluctance, Mrs Holey agreed to a hip replacement operation which went ahead on August 22. Mrs Barraclough visited her mother after the operation but at 5.30am the next day she received a call from a nurse to say her mother had died.

Mrs Holey's son, Stephen Ho-rley, of Thirsk, North Yorkshire, said: "If she had not been discharged from St Luke's still with pneumonia, she would not have fallen over and broken her hip."

The cause of death on Mrs Holey's death certificate said she had lung cancer, haemorrhagic infarction and a heart attack.

The family had never been told she had lung cancer so questioned the cause of death. The registrar informed the coroner who ordered a post-mortem exam.

This revealed Mrs Holey died from COPD, with no evidence of any of the causes listed on the original death certificate. After complaining about their mother's treatment an investigation was carried out by the Trust. This found a doctor had failed to read Mrs Holey's medical notes and wrongly assumed she had lung cancer.

At a meeting with the Trust the family received an apology for the behaviour of the nursing team and for the death certificate mistake. They were told a new ward manager had been introduced and more experienced nurses introduced.

A nurse who was rude has acknowledged her "inappropriate behaviour" and been moved to another ward under supervision. Orthopaedic staff have been advised to check a patient's medical history before issuing a death certificate.

The Trust say Mrs Holey was discharged because she had been able to wash and dress and walk with sticks. Doctors have told the family she was not x-rayed sooner because "she would have been too poorly to have undergone tests earlier".

Miles Scott, chief executive of Bradford Teaching Hospitals, said the Trust offered its "deepest sympathy to the family". He added: "As with any complaint it is important that the Trust learns from an investigation."

But Mrs Barraclough said: "I want answers, we all do. I know she was old and in poor health but she didn't deserve this."