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Hospital patient sent 'whistleblower' letters

A patient who spent months in hospital because of a medical error received anonymous letters alleging safety concerns at the unit that treated her.

Marilyn Smith was diagnosed with tetanus after she was discharged following treatment for a leg injury at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

 She said she was not asked about her tetanus immunisation status and was discharged from Hinchingbrooke without a booster shot.

A few days later she woke up with trismus, commonly known as lockjaw, and was unable to open her mouth - a symptom of tetanus, which only a handful of people contract in the UK each year. 

She subsequently spent more than 120 days in hospital in Hinchingbrooke, and then Peterborough, when her condition worsened and she was moved to critical care, placed in an induced coma and needed intubation. She said she now struggled to walk.

She received the first anonymous letter, claiming to be from "a group of current and previous A&E staff at Hinchingbrooke", in the post in January after she had been home from hospital for two weeks.

"I wasn't a letter to me, but a letter about me," Ms Smith said.

It described alleged shortcomings in her care.

Two subsequent letters made similar claims and on the same day the third arrived at her house, on 24 February, the BBC also received one giving Ms Smith's name and address and describing the alleged failures in her initial care.

This letter stated "the trust has been ignoring concerns about patient safety" and contained further allegations that related to an individual.

She has since instructed a lawyer to look at her case because, she said, she did not want anybody else to suffer like she had.

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Source: BBC News, 8 March 2022


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