1 May, 2024 @ 15:49
4 mins read

EXCLUSIVE: Nolotil killed our mum in Spain after she was given the drug for a slipped disc in Benidorm – this is how we sued and WON

THE family of a British expat who died after taking Nolotil have recalled their years’ long battle for justice. 

Yvonne Flowers had been living in Spain for some 23 years when she fell over, suffering two slipped discs and pinched nerves. 

She only spent a week in hospital but during that time, Hospital Clinica Benidorm ramped up 20 counts of negligence, including the prescription of Nolotil. 

In 2021, the private hospital paid out over €400,000 after two court cases in both the UK and Spain.

READ MORE: ‘If he hadn’t gone to Spain he would still be alive’: British family of ‘first known Nolotil victim’ speak out 

Yvonne was ‘well-liked’ and ‘charitable’.
Photo: The Olive Press

“They’ve taken a mother’s life, a grandmother’s life. Money can’t bring her back but it is justice for her,” Jenna Flowers, Yvonne’s step-daughter told the Olive Press

Yvonne was a loving mum to Jenna (right) and grandmother.
Photo: The Olive Press

Though officially they admitted no liability, the family allege HCB ‘hid quite a bit about Nolotil’. 

The 67-year-old went into hospital on February 2, 2020 after she fell over and suffered two slipped discs as well as trapped nerves. 

She was told she would have to wait a week for an operation despite being in ‘intense’ pain. 

READ MORE: ‘Our Nolotil hell’: British expats recall their terrifying ordeals after taking the ‘lethal’ painkiller in Spain – including one who ‘momentarily died’ before having to learn to walk again

During that time, Yvonne was put on a painkiller drip and after a few days this was swapped from one arm to the other. 

However, according to the family, the wound was not cleaned nor bandaged and soon she caught an infection, eventually developing sepsis. 

Yvonne’s pain intensified and led doctors to prescribe three doses of Nolotil, a drug known to have potentially deadly side effects for Northern Europeans. 

“From that point on, she started to deteriorate quite rapidly,” said Yvonne’s husband, Peter Flowers.

Peter and Jenna held a memorial service at one of Yvonne’s favourite places, Gandia Port.
Photo: The Olive Press

“The next day she suffered all day. She was in a lot of pain from the sepsis and on top of that, she had been given Nolotil so her immune system was taken away.”

A popular painkiller in Spain, Nolotil is known to reduce the white blood cell count of Northern Europeans to dangerous levels, significantly weakening the immune system. 

Although Yvonne was becoming more and more ill, the family claim her condition was ‘ignored’ by hospital staff. 

By Saturday, less than a week after Yvonne arrived at HCB, she was on oxygen and had ‘blisters’ coming up all over her face, a sign of an allergic reaction to Nolotil. 

“Nobody said anything or did anything about it. They were all in denial,” Peter said.

“The consultant came in, ignored the blisters and the oxygen despite Yvonne only coming in for pinched nerves.They just upped the painkillers. If they had done their job maybe she would have stood a chance of surviving.”

Over the weekend, Yvonne became ‘unable to speak or get out of bed’. 

Despite this, she was taken to surgery on the following Monday. 

When she arrived the surgeon reportedly asked ‘what is this woman doing on my operating table? She is seriously ill.’

Yvonne was immediately taken to A&E but her organs had ‘already started to shut down’. 

The beloved mum and grandmother died the following morning on Tuesday, February 12, little over a week after going into hospital for back issues. 

Immediately following their mothers death, Yvonne’s children based in the UK flew to Spain to understand how their healthy mother could have died in the ‘prime of her life’. 

Yvonne’s family have been left heartbroken by the loss of their beloved grandmother.
Photo: The Olive Press

According to Peter, hospital officials told the family to ‘get on with their lives’ claiming Yvonne had simply died of sepsis. 

Despite repeated attempts to find out how this could have happened, the family were met with silence. 

But Peter wanted justice for his ‘well liked’, ‘charitable’ wife. 

“A lot of people told me it was a waste of time to sue a hospital. But, I said why? I’ve got to try and get some justice. They can’t keep doing this to people and keep making hundreds of millions.”

Peter filed a claim in London, backed by his two children and three grandchildren. 

The court found 20 counts of negligence including ‘failure to treat infection’, ‘prescription of Nolotil without monitoring’, ‘failure to notice, heed or treat development of potential agranulocytosis and sepsis, known risks of Nolotil’.

READ MORE: High court in Spain begins investigating Nolotil after reports of dozens of deaths linked to the ‘lethal’ painkiller 

In particular, the case found HCB ‘prescribed Nolotil to the deceased when it was contraindicated’ due to Yvonne’s British heritage. 

HCB’s insurance company, Berkley Seguros España settled out of court, admitting no liability and paying out some £200,000.

Months later, the case was brought to Benidorm’s Palau de Justicia. 

The Spanish case extended the British judgement and the insurance company was ordered to pay out over €200,000.

Despite some justice for Yvonne’s family, Jenna says it is not enough. 

“I don’t know how many more people need to die for them to do something about it. It doesn’t make sense. On paper, the mum died because of Nolotil.” 

The Olive Press has contacted Hospital Clinica Benidorm for comment on this case but received no response. 

However, the private hospital group has responded to the Olive Press campaign urging hospitals to follow AEMPS advice. 

They said: “At HCB Hospitals, we are very aware of the recommendation not to prescribe Nolotil to foreign patients, even though it is not an absolute contraindication”.

READ MORE: Major private hospital groups across Spain vow to crackdown on ‘lethal’ painkiller Nolotil being administered to Brits

Yzabelle Bostyn

After spending much of her childhood in Andalucia and adulthood between Barcelona and Latin America, Yzabelle has settled in the Costa del Sol to put her NCTJ & Journalism Masters to good use. She is particularly interested in travel, vegan food and has been leading the Olive Press Nolotil campaign. Have a story? email [email protected]

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