Whistle-blower warned hospital bosses of under-staffing 'for years' before beloved nan's death

Peggy's daughter Maria with a photo of her parents
Peggy's daughter Maria with a photo of her parents -Credit:LancsLive

A doctor warned bosses of hospital under-staffing for years before a woman died when nurses failed to alert doctors to her deteriorating condition.

Margaret Clement, known as Peggy, underwent a hip operation in May 2022 at the Royal Blackburn Hospital with the surgeon telling her family the procedure had been a success and that she had "another five years".

However, after being transferred to Burnley General Hospital Peggy began to deteriorate. By June 6 Peggy's family had started to raise concerns about her condition but she was then transferred to the Reedyford ward at Pendle Community Hospital on June 10 for recuperation.


Two days after the 92-year-old was moved to Reedyford Peggy, from Burnley, deteriorated further but nurses repeatedly failed to alert doctors. On June 14 Peggy was taken back to the A&E department Blackburn by hospital.

The following morning doctors finally realised that Peggy was bleeding internally from her stomach and arranged for an endoscopy. However, as Peggy was wheeled into the room she suffered a cardiac arrest and died.

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs both Blackburn and Burnley hospitals, then launched an investigation which highlighted several failings in Peggy's care.

An inquest, which started today (May 7) at Preston Coroner's Court, heard from Dr Fozia Shah, who was a doctor at Reedyford at the time of Peggy's death.

Dr Shah said that nurses had failed to alert doctors to signs of Peggy's deterioration. "There is an expectation that... it needs escalating," the doctor said. "Nobody said anything so I was completely unaware."

Dr Shah, who worked at Reedyford from 2019 to 2023, also revealed that she had been reporting her concerns about under-staffing for three years before Peggy's death.

When she was asked when she started flagging up issues to her superiors the doctor said: "Ever since I worked there. My concerns have been regarding medical staffing.

"I escalated it to my seniors because I found myself in the situation where I had no choice but to raise my concerns about the vulnerability of the ward but I got no answers. I got so frustrated that I went directly to the medical director Jawad Husain. I said 'it's a huge risk'."

Dr Shah's concerns related to the lack of senior medics at Reedyford. She said that junior doctors were expected to cover the two wards which had no doctors out of hours or at weekends.

"I escalated it because due to the under-staffing things were getting missed," Dr Shah added. "If [Peggy's deterioration] had been escalated we would have done more tests. I am so very sorry for the loss of Peggy but all we can do in cases like this is to make sure we do better next time so no other families have to go through the same distress."

Peggy, who had three daughters with her husband Jim after the couple married in 1947, was described by her family as "active and independent" despite her age.

The inquest continues