Patricia Balsom, who wrote movingly in The Independent this week about her fight against terminal cancer and her sometimes appalling care at the hands of the NHS has died.
Mrs Balsom, who was 57, was the sister of the Independent columnist Janet Street-Porter. She died in a hospice just before midnight on Thursday, eight months after being diagnosed with lung and brain cancer.
Her diary was published in the Extra section of Thursday's paper, and chronicled how the desperate lack of resources within the health service made her last few months a time of agony and anger.
When Mrs Balsom was diagnosed, she was told that very little could be done to treat her and that she had six months to live. She later discovered that care was rationed because she suffered from more than one form of cancer.
Her diary entries revealed the extent to which dying patients are denied even basic palliative care. At one point, she was forced to wait two weeks for a vital scan to detect whether the cancer had spread to her bones, despite suffering extreme pain.
While in Hillingdon Hospital in west London, she was treated on a mixed-sex ward, told she could only have one pillow and at one point was taken home in the back of a delivery van without a carer because no ambulance was available.
"I feel Hillingdon are making whatever time I have left so much more stressful than it need be," she wrote. "They are cheating me out of quality time with people I care about."
Her last entry, on the day before she died, read: "Up all night with pain. Crying and want to go in a nursing home to die because I cannot put my husband through all this. I don't feel as if anyone in the NHS is really in charge of my case. It's all up to me, Janet and Mick [her husband]."
Janet Street-Porter said: "I have been inundated with messages from people saying that the diary moved them to tears and that they are deeply distressed that someone who believed in the NHS like Pat did could be treated so shabbily in the final days of their life.
"Pat's final wish was that what happened to her would never happen to anyone else who happened to live in the borough of Hillingdon.
"Her diary provided a very powerful epitaph. Pat was a real one-off. She faced up to her illness with all her characteristic humour."
Mrs Balsom is survived by her husband, Mick, and their son, Kerry.Reuse content