Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 11°C

min temp: 5°C


Ipswich: Grandmother’s death sparks investigation into care of critically-ill patients at Ipswich Hospital, inquest hears

11:00 19 August 2014

Pearl Underwood who died after going in for a routine operation to remove gallstones.

Pearl Underwood who died after going in for a routine operation to remove gallstones.


Ipswich Hospital has made major changes to the way it cares for critically-ill patients after a 77-year-old grandmother died following a routine operation to remove gall stones, an inquest has heard.

Julie Beaumont with her mum Pearl UnderwoodJulie Beaumont with her mum Pearl Underwood

Pearl Underwood, of Campbell Road, Ipswich, went into the hospital on February 28 last year after several months of reporting pain in her abdomen.

Last night her family said they were “relieved” but “sorry” it had taken the tragedy to bring about changes to the way patients with deteriorating conditions are treated.

The inquest at Ip-City Centre, Ipswich, heard how most patients are able to go home the same day following the operation despite it being classed as “major”.

But Mrs Underwood, who has been described as “fit and healthy” and also worked as an activities assistant, died two days later.

At the time of her death “outreach” intensive care medics were not available between 10pm and 8am to communicate with ward nurses about the best ways to help patients whose conditions were worsening.

Sarah Seeley, matron, said at the inquest: “The deterioration of patients is a significant problem, it’s registered as one which we are trying to recognise.

“Now we have in place a 24-hour critical care outreach nurses team which supports the ward nurses which helps to develop the early escalation so we can get the right system in place.”

Dr Barbara Buckley, the hospital’s medical director, said there were “several areas” that needed improvement and that Mrs Underwood’s condition should have been identified as being “appropriate” for intensive care sooner.

She added: “The early warning system (for patients) is key and we are putting in a system which calls them (doctors) automatically when the system triggers a certain level which they have to act on.”

She added that there should also be a “much lower threshold” for when intensive care medics are notified.

The new system electronically messages doctors automatically when a patient’s Modified Early Warning Score reaches a high enough level.

Suffolk coroner, Dr Peter Dean, said: “In an ideal world there would have been, clearly, a transfer to intensive care and it did not take place at the earliest possibility. It is undoubtedly the case if transferred to critical care earlier there would have been further attempts to support the organ systems.”

He recorded a narrative verdict saying: “There was a serious but uncommon complication following the operation, the critical transfer was not escalated at an early opportunity while whether it would have affected the outcome cannot be established.”

He said the only “reasonable cause” of death was as a result of Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome.

The family released a statement through their solicitor Julian Wilson. He said: “The family have asked me to say that they are grateful for the care that coroner Dr Dean has taken over this inquest. They are relived it is over but disappointed that it took so long to occur.

“They are pleased to see that the hospital have instituted changes but are sorry it has taken such a tragedy to bring them about.”



  • Next time you visit Ipswich Hospital especially round the out patients area..just take a minute and watch how many paper carriers there are moving around!!

    Report this comment


    Thursday, August 21, 2014

  • I know of an older lady in late 70'searly 80's having a mastectomy and discharged the same day, with drains etc, needed to return to hospital next day due to too much blood in drain, why wasn't she given adequate time in hospital. Seems as if hospital care is nothing more than a conveyor belt , Hope I don't need any care of this type in my twilight years.

    Report this comment


    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

  • my mum just had this op done and was released 8 hours after waking from the surgery, it is very wrong they need to keep people longer after major surgery

    Report this comment


    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

  • not just the old . I am 48 and went in for heart problem . now my paper work states headaches I have ask for a different hospital to advise me

    Report this comment

    Lee mundy

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • Ipswich Hospital is like a lottery for the elderly.

    Report this comment

    Driven Roundabend

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • Time and again they say we will do better next time. Not good enough. Get it right first time. I lost my Mum but trying to get them to admit erros is like asking for lottery numbers

    Report this comment

    Homeland warrior

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Felixstowe mayor Doreen Savage switches on the lights helped by Elise Gorski, Peggy Osborne, and Ash and Lila Tadjrishi.

It’s a problem faced by millions of families across the country every year.

Domestic violence reports increase

Domestic violence reports soared by 12% in Suffolk last year with more than 2,000 recorded incidents involving male victims, police have said.

The close-knit Smith family in 2006: Matt, Wendy, Nikki and Barry

It can be upsetting and lonely having a child with a disability, but Wendy Smith would rather shout about the many positives. Steven Russell hears how love and kindness trumps any anger and bitterness

Woman conned by bogus caller (Stock photo)

A Hadleigh woman who lost £2,500 in a police scam has warned others to be alert to the crime.

Members of the nursing team at Ipswich Hospital.

Carers and visitors of people being looked after at Ipswich Hospital will next month be able to spend more time with patients as new extended visiting hours are introduced.

She was last seen in the area of Downside Close in Ipswich.

A woman reported missing to police on Saturday has been found safe and well following a public appeal.

Part of Sue Brooks' photograph of pupils and staff at Fonnereau House School, Ipswich, in 1952. Are you in the picture?

I recently asked readers if they had memories of Fonnereau House School, Ipswich, which was in Fonnereau Road, close to High Street.

Essex police are investigating a robbery at Jaywick.

An 88-year-old Essex man suffered a broken hip when he was knocked to the ground by robbers who burst into his Jaywick home.

Doors reopen on the new look East of England Co-op Daily store in Woodbridge Thoroughfare. Staff members, left to right, Chloe Williams, James Buckles, Shirley Pierce.

Shoppers were greeted by the sight of a new-look Co-op on their high street yesterday, when a Suffolk branch of the store reopened following three weeks of refurbishment.

HGV drink-driver in court

A lorry driver carrying a trailer full of wine has admitted dangerous driving when weaving between lanes on the A14 while three times over the drink-drive limit.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages

Local business directory

Suffolk's trusted business finder

Property search

e.g. Oxford or NW3
Powered by Zoopla

Digital Edition

Read the Ipswich Star e-edition today E-edition

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24