Care home resident 'had maggots in open sores': Coroner condemns elderly woman's 'deplorable and appalling' condition

WHEN doctors unwrapped the bandages from Grace Huxstep's legs, they found maggots crawling through several ulcerated sores.

Sir Montague Levene, the Southwark coroner, presiding over yesterday's inquest into her death, described her condition on arrival at hospital as 'deplorable and appalling'. Mrs Huxstep, 73, had been admitted to hospital from Greystone's nursing home in east Dulwich, south London, in July last year. She had been at the home for four months since suffering a stroke. She had a history of leg ulcers, the court was told, but the condition was minor on arrival at the home, according to doctors.

The brochure for the home discloses that it charges between pounds 300 and pounds 335 per week for residents. Mrs Huxstep's fees were paid by Southwark local authority, though many of the other 60 residents were private. The brochure advertises 'a magnificent building of immense character . . . which has been tastefully converted to provide luxurious accommodation for the elderly'. It adds that the home 'seeks to provide the best nursing care for patients, thus ensuring peace of mind for families and friends'.

Mrs Huxstep's husband, Stanley, 72, claims he alerted staff at the home to the deterioration in her condition and was concerned about the standard of care. 'Her bandages were taken off and I saw maggots on her feet,' he told the court. 'I told him about the maggots and he said, 'That usually happens'.' But Greystone's GP was not alerted to the decline in her condition. He told the court he did not see her sores for three weeks before she was finally admitted to hospital.

The court heard that, after gangrene set into her feet, the pensioner was admitted to King's College Hospital on 24 July, then transferred to Dulwich hospital three days later. Dr Wendy Hildick- Smith said that the patient was in a very poor condition on arrival.

She was bleeding from the rectum, vomiting and had severely infected foot ulcers. 'The ulcers were extensive and covered her left and right feet. They were very infected. The surgeons' opinion was that they were so severe that the only option was to amputate both legs below the knee.'

Dr Hildick-Smith said it was decided to give Mrs Huxstep morphine to deaden the terrible pain she was in so that she might at least be able to rest comfortably. She said: 'It would have taken many weeks for the patient's feet to have deteriorated to such a condition.'

She added that Mrs Huxstep was also in a 'poor nutritional state. She was very thin and looked like she had not eaten for some time.'

The home's nurse manager, Edward Black, told the court that Mr Huxstep had 'interfered' with the care of his wife and 'inhibited proper care'. In particular, he said that Mr Huxstep, described as a devoted and adoring husband, often took his wife to the park and allowed her bandaged feet to drag along the ground thereby risking contamination.

Mr Black said his nurses regularly changed Mrs Huxstep's bandages and acted professionally throughout. None of the staff at the home was prepared to make any further comment yesterday.

The Coroner concluded: 'It would have been more prudent to get her into hospital much earlier.'

(Photographs omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory