Published: 12:00, 22 July 2014 |
Kent hospital chiefs are investigating after the daughter of a war hero released harrowing images of him naked and lying in his own waste in the final days of his life.
Great-grandfather Frank Foster, a decorated Second World War soldier, was pictured face down and nude and apparently covered in urine.
The 93-year-old's family, from Tunbridge Wells, say he was "stripped of his dignity" by "cruel" nurses who "ignored" the blind and deaf pensioner on a soaked bed while he battled a fatal brain tumour.
Daughter Joanne Fowler, 57, removed her father's clothing after he became incontinent, but said she could not summon any hospital staff to help lift him from the sodden bed to clean and dress him - despite pressing the assistance buzzer multiple times.
She claimed the war veteran, who still had shrapnel embedded in his shoulder from when he was shot in El Alamein, went ignored by medics despite cries for help and was so appalled she even took heartbreaking photos of him at the Tunbridge Wells Hospital at Pembury.
Mrs Fowler, of Moat Farm, also recorded audio of his distressing cries and a nurse threatening to ask her to leave after she complains about his "horrendous pain".
She said she had previously found him in the toilet at the hospital covered in dried faeces after being left by staff.
Mr Foster, who served as a soldier in the King's Royal Rifle Corps and 2 Queen Victoria's Rifles (Territorial), died on June 13 - six days after his daughter found him naked.
Scroll down for audio recorded in hospital
His daughter has lodged several complaints with the hospital, which has now launched an internal investigation into his care.
She said: "It was the most horrific thing. He was screaming in pain and the nurses wouldn't do anything.
"He was visibly distressed and was tearing his clothes off because he was in so much agony. He was in absolute agony so when he died it was a relief to us all.
"He would have suffered less in battle than he did at that hospital at the hands of nurses who ignored his cries for help. He would have suffered less if he'd died on the battlefield.
"If I had known a fraction of what my father was about to suffer in hospital, without a doubt I would have killed him with my own hands."
Mrs Fowler added: "There is absolute horror taking place in that hospital. It was barbaric and I want to protect other people from the horrendous treatment.
"My dad was a brave and amazing man. He was deaf and blind, but he used to say to me 'Jojo, life is good'. It just breaks my heart that he had to suffer like the way he did.
"The pictures are upsetting but if they stop another loving person from experiencing the neglect my dad did then I will be happy."
Mr Foster went into hospital on May 22 for ongoing care for a brain tumour and was admitted to a ward the next day.
Mrs Fowler said she begged the nurses for pain relief for her father, but his buzzer was ignored "constantly" and that a doctor was only called after she pleaded with staff for four hours.
His family claim they were forced to clean the veteran up themselves after he wet himself in distress.
And at one stage, Mrs Fowler said a nurse came in and "angrily squirted" some pain relief into his mouth with a syringe without saying anything to him.
In a chilling tape recording made by the family, a nurse apparently threatens to have Mrs Fowler removed from the hospital after she is asked how much pain Mr Foster can take.
Mr Foster can be heard crying out in agony in the clip, while Mrs Fowler says "my dad is in the most horrendous pain and this shouldn't be happening".
She added: "Imagine the worst pain imaginable and that is what my dad is going through right now."
The flustered nurse is heard saying: "I will have you removed… what would you like me to do?"
Mrs Fowler ended up sleeping at her father's side in the ward because she was so anxious staff were not doing their jobs properly in easing Mr Foster's pain.
And she even claims she would have killed her father herself had she known how much he would suffer at the hospital in the long weekend he was there.
In an impassioned Facebook post, she wrote: "I am in utter despair that he was made to endure over three long days unimaginable, avoidable pain and distress.
"I will not rest until the doctors and nurses, who watched my darling dad as I pleaded for help treated me with contempt, understand that this can never be allowed to happen again."
A spokesman for Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said: "The trust received a complaint on July 8 outlining concerns relating to the care of the late Mr Frank Foster, from his daughter.
"An internal investigation to review what happened commenced immediately and is on-going."
Chief nurse Avey Bhatia said: "We are very sorry that Mrs Fowler felt her experience of her late father's care did not meet the high standards of care, comfort and dignity we are committed to providing our patients at all times.
"We are taking these allegations extremely seriously and have commissioned a full independent review of Mr Foster's care to establish the facts, provide assurance and will not hesitate to take any actions found necessary.
"We have spoken to and are meeting with Mrs Fowler to discuss her concerns in detail as part of this process.
"We cannot discuss individual areas of Mr Foster's care while the investigation establishes exactly what happened. We monitor individual aspects of every patient's care and pain relief is administered carefully and according to individual clinical needs.
"Our absolute priority is to provide the best possible care to all of our patients at all times."
A complaint was also lodged by the family at the Fir Trees Care Home, where Mr Foster spent a week between hospital stays in May, because the call button did not work.
The home confirmed they had "experienced technical problems with some of their call buttons" during Mr Foster's stay, but have since resolved the issue.
After leaving the Army in 1945, Mr Foster became an accountant and had five children with his wife, Jean, 83, who still lives in Tunbridge Wells.
The couple have 13 great grandchildren and four grandchildren. Mrs Fowler, a self-employed designer, has three children and three grandchildren.
Mr Foster was awarded medals including for fighting in North Africa and Italy.
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