Published Tue, 2010-11-30 14:08; updated 34 weeks ago.
The daughter of an 83-year-old woman who died at Stafford Hospital has told a public inquiry that the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) was not independent.
Mrs Sandra Whitehouse, whose mother Joan Morris died in December 2006, said there was nothing independent about the service which was designed to help resolve patients’ concerns and problems.
The Public Inquiry is investigating the role of the commissioning, supervisory and regulatory bodies in the monitoring of Mid Staffordshire Foundation NHS Trust between 2005 and 2009.
As well as contacting PALS, Joan Morris's family tried to have a meeting with the then chief executive of Stafford Hospital Martin Yeates but did not succeed.
"I'd have had more chance in getting in touch with the Lord himself than getting in touch with Martin Yeates," said Mrs Whitehouse.
In the end, Mrs Whitehouse made a formal complaint on 30 March 2007, and instigated a meeting with two of the ward sisters.
Mrs Whitehouse succeeding in getting a meeting but said she was insulted because it was held in a 'broom cupboard.'
"It was just like a broom cupboard, and there was one tiny little window and it was the sort of room that you would say ‘Right, let's get this meeting. You
know, they're not going to be able to stand -- sit in here for that long. They're going to be really uncomfortable. This meeting is going to end quickly.’"
She said that just as they sat down the nurses started to cry.
"I was disgusted. I says to them -- I won't swear, but I did say to them 'Who the hell are you crying for, yourselves or my mum? If it's my mum dry your eyes now.'
"I was angry, I was really -- you know, if that hadn't had happened, if they hadn't have met us andburst into tears, I don't -- I think the meeting would
have been more productive.
"But for two qualified nursing sisters to sit down in front of you and cry, you know, who was they crying for? Was they ashamed of what they'd done to my mum?"
Mr Francis asked: "If they were ashamed at what had happened, would crying not have been an appropriate response?"
"No," said Mrs Robinson, "because it was just as we sat down. You know, we just sat down and we just said who we were and – and they were crocodile tears. They weren't sincere tears.
"And they are professional people. You know, you're a professional person and, you know, do you go crying home every day after what you've sat and listened here over the weeks?
"They hadn't earned that right to cry. They hadn't. They were insulting me. They were insulting my mum."
This evidence was heard on Monday, November 29. The hearing resumed on Tuesday, November 30.
* The chairman of the Public Inquiry into Stafford Hospital has lifted reporting restrictions that he had set in place last week.
Mr Robert Francis QC had placed a restriction order on Tuesday 23 November so that the evidence of Mrs Janet Robinson, whose son John Moore-Robinson died at Leicester Infirmary in April 2006 after being discharged form the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
The next day, he received substations written submissions from representatives of the media, including the Express and Star, which prompted Mr Francis to ask the police to look at the evidence that had been given in private and consider if it would prejudice their investigation.
They said it would not – so on Monday, November 29 Mr Francis lifted the restriction order and asked for the documents relating to Mrs Robinson’s evidence to be made public.