Sheffield grandfather hospital death inquiry

Thomas Milner
Thomas Milner
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A POLICE investigation has been launched into the hospital treatment given to a dying grandfather from Sheffield - amid fears that records of his drug doses were deliberately changed.

Tom Milner, aged 76, died on the palliative care ward at the Northern General Hospital in Fir Vale, where he was being treated for end-stage leukaemia.

Afterwards his family made a series of complaints surrounding his care, claiming he was not given enough morphine to relieve the pain he suffered in the last two days of his life.

They said the retired electrician, who lived on City Road, was left in agony.

Now, more than seven years after Mr Milner’s death, South Yorkshire Police has begun an investigation.

The case has been sparked following allegations that records were altered showing morphine doses given to him.

It is believed police are also studying stock levels of the drug.

But a spokeswoman for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Northern General, said it did not consider any drug record corrections to be a ‘deliberate attempt by staff to cause detriment to Mr Milner’, and that a number of reviews by independent clinical bodies found no action needed to be taken.

Mr Milner died in January 2006, and his case was later highlighted in a critical report by The Patients’ Association.

His daughter Jan Brooks said her dad was in so much pain on the ward that he was ‘literally pulling at the sheets with tears coming down his cheeks’.

She said he was given 10 milligrams of morphine over 55 hours, but that he needed much more. Mr Milner’s dose was eventually increased an hour before he died.

Ms Brooks said: “There are consecutive entries in the drug book for Dad prior to his death - all in an attempt to cover a failure to set up his syringe driver properly, refill it properly and supply sufficient end of life drugs.

“After being given so much contradictory information over several years about the administration of morphine to my dying father, we now await the conclusion of the police investigation.”

The hospital trust spokeswoman said: “Our hospitals are recognised as providing a very high standard of care and so we were obviously concerned to receive the complaint from Mr Milner’s family in 2006. We undertook a full review of the care provided and also supported an independent review by the Healthcare Commission. We have acknowledged there were some aspects of Mr Milner’s care which could have been improved but the Healthcare Commission found that staff did act appropriately and within professional guidelines.

“We can also confirm that the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Health Service Ombudsman have also not taken any action. On the specific issue of the drug records, we have discussed this extensively with Mr Milner’s family and based on the information we have reviewed, we do not consider that any corrections in the drug records were a deliberate attempt by staff to cause detriment to Mr Milner.

“We are therefore co-operating fully with the police investigation, which Mr Milner’s family have requested.”

A police spokesman said: “South Yorkshire Police can confirm officers are investigating the care Thomas Milner received towards the end of his life.”

Details of the new investigation have emerged just days after The Star revealed that three staff members at Sheffield Children’s Hospital have been suspended and interviewed under police caution following the death of a baby girl allegedly involving ‘the administration of a controlled drug’.

Eight-week-old Hanna Faheem, from Brightside, who suffered from rare Edwards’ Syndrome, died last December. Her family claim she may have been given 10 times too much morphine.