Where were the nurses?

LAST UPDATED: 30 May, 2008 @ 12:05
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Did healthy 40-year-old die in Cadiz hospital due to a lack of care?
Briton told that his partner ‘might not have died’ had he stayed night with her

Exclusive by JON CLARKE and LAURA BALFOUR

MYSTERY surrounds the sudden death of a young British woman at a hospital in Cadiz.

Deborah Maxey from the West Midlands had been on a house hunting trip to Olvera in March when she was admitted to Villamartin’s Virgen de las Montanas hospital.

The healthy 40-year-old had been transferred from Olvera’s health centre by ambulance late on a Saturday night after she started coughing up blood.

Suffering from flu and already on antibiotics, she was given an X-ray and was diagnosed with pneumonia.

But, according to sources close to the family, it is understood that she was not put on a monitor or a drip. This was despite her hands ‘going blue’ (a classic danger sign) as her partner left her at 6pm on Sunday evening to get a rest.

According to the post mortem, she died during the night due to “a lack of oxygen to the heart”.

The next day a doctor inadvertently suggested that had her partner been around she “might not have died”.

“He said that they had found her at 7am and that had someone been there to alert a nurse she might have survived,” said local estate agent Zoe Males, who was translating for Maxey’s partner.

“We couldn’t believe that they were apparently putting some of the blame on him. The poor guy. “A lot of it might have been down to the translation, but he had been through enough anguish already.”

Continued Males, who had been asked to act as a translator: “It strongly suggests that she was not being monitored properly through the night.

“Surely that is a job for the nurses, or machines, not the patient’s family?”

The tragic death happened after Maxey, from Redditch, near Birmingham, begged her partner to go home to get some sleep.

It was 6pm on the Sunday and she seemed to be in a stable condition.

“She was conscious and said she would see him the next day,” said Males, who works for Olvera Properties, an estate agent that had been helping the couple find a home in Spain.

“One thing he noticed was that her hands were particularly blue,” she continued.

The next day Males and her boss at the estate agent agreed to return to the hospital at 9am to help translate.

But when they got to her room Maxey was not there and another patient burst into tears when they asked where she was.

“Paul was fully expecting her to be fine,” said Males. “He just did not know what was wrong with her.

“But when we got to the room she was not there. We expected her to be outside somewhere waiting for us.

“There were no nurses around so I asked another patient in her room where she was and in tears she said she died in the night.”

The pair, however, refused to break the news to her partner, insisting that a doctor be found to explain the situation.

Eventually a South American doctor came out and explained in English what had happened.

“He said she had died because she was on her own. I couldn’t believe he was saying that. I pushed him, saying: ‘You mean in the middle of the night?’ and he said: ‘yes’.”

She continued: “We were so shocked. Just two days earlier she had been as bright as a button.

She was so healthy running up and down the streets of Olvera. She had a bad cough, that was it.”

The couple had been planning to retire to Spain over the next couple of years and had been house hunting for some time.

The hospital in Villamartin is part of a chain of private/public hospitals.

The modern-looking hospital, which “looks like a hotel” is owned by the company Jose Manuel Pascual Pascual, which set up a private clinic by a doctor of the same name in Cadiz in 1948.

Only last week another of a series of demonstrations took place in Ubrique with locals furious that patients still have to travel 35 minutes to Villamartin which “only has limited services”.

Demanding their own hospital, most damningly they prefer to travel considerably further – and taking far longer – to go to Ronda or Jerez hospitals.

A Cadiz health authority report stated that the Ubrique residents (who number 17,000) were unhappy that Villamartin hospital “has serious shortages in material, in staffing and in services”.

The report continued: “Every day less people from Ubrique opt to use the hospital, preferring to go to Ronda (which is more than an hour in bus) or Jerez (more than two hours by bus)”

Despite countless calls and emails to the hospital the Olive Press was unable to get any concrete answers.

A hospital receptionist finally confirmed the death, but refused to comment. “She died here but we can’t give any more information out unless you are family.”

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