Dying war veteran, 103, not fed for two days as hospital staff misread notes

A dying war veteran was left without food for his final two days after an accidental miscommunication between hospital staff.

The 103-year-old had died on Boxing Day in 2019 and didn't eat in the final days of his life, an inquest has heard.

Norman Hubble, from Essex, died from a lung infection while recovering from surgery for a broken leg at Whipps Cross.

Walthamstow Coroner's Court heard that a doctor decided he should only be fed under supervision due to a long-term throat problem meaning he struggled when eating.

However, a nurse misread his notes and he wasn't fed at all, writes MyLondon.

His wife claimed the miscommunication was due to a "lazy atmosphere" at the hospital.

His wife Yvonne said in a witness statement that Norman told her: "If I don't have a cup of tea and a biscuit, I will die."

She wrote: “My husband was let down in his life by the lack of care and urgency given to him.”

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Coroner Graeme Irvine concluded the failure to feed the war veteran was a "significant error" but did not directly cause his death.

Rahul Luka, the hospital's senior nurse, apologised to Norman's family for the "basic things which were dong wrong".

He assured them Whipps Cross had "taken lessons" from the incident.

Coroner Irvine concluded: “One can’t imagine how it must be during the seasonal period to be recovering from a broken hip when one is 103 but that is made even worse when you can’t even have sustenance.

“It seems to me that nurses had a cursive look at the notes, saw the words ‘nil by mouth’ and followed that instruction.

“What is clear is that this is a gentleman of his generation: he was stoic, independent, and uncomplaining.

“It is very rare that I deal with a case of a man who made it to 103 and saw active service.

“The information from family is that he was a formidable man. He managed to get to an old age with very little medical issues whatsoever.”

He recorded the death as accidental, rather than natural causes, due to his view that Norman’s illness would not have happened if he had not fallen at home.

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