'Dad died in agony in hospital while medics watched - it was like a horror film'

Welwyn's Martin Sheppard with his two grandchildren

Martin Sheppard, from Welwyn, had been looking forward to spending more time with his grandchildren - Credit: Amy Sheppard

A distraught daughter who says she saw her dad die in agony in hospital while medical staff watched and did nothing is desperate to ensure no other patient endures such suffering.

Martin Sheppard, from Welwyn, was admitted into Stevenage’s Lister Hospital with heart problems in December.

His daughter, Amy, said: "He was asked how he felt about a do-not-resuscitate order and he laughed, saying, 'Of course I want to be resuscitated - I've got two grandchildren', and his wishes were noted down.” 

Amy, who lost her mum in October, said: “I spoke to a consultant and said, ‘My dad's all I’ve got. Please promise you’ll do everything you can to save him,' and she said she would.”

Four days later, 75-year-old Mr Sheppard was fighting for his life. 

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“My dad was screaming and falling off the bed in pain,” Amy said. “It was such a frantic, horrific experience and it went on for 40 minutes before he eventually went into cardiac arrest.

“There were four medical professionals in the room and none of them did anything to help him, so I jumped on the bed and tried to resuscitate him. They had to drag me off him.”

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Amy says she watched her beloved dad die in agony.

She believes a DNR order was placed on him, without his consent, the day before he died.

“I had no idea,” Amy said. “I didn’t know they weren’t going to try to save him, which made his death all the more traumatic.

“My dad had lived with heart failure for 25 years, but he was really energetic and lived a very full life. He was very able. He lived alone and didn't have assistance, and he helped everyone around him. He should have been given the chance to live.

“What upsets me is they were so willing to put the DNR order on him, but they didn't put an end-of-life plan in place to ensure a peaceful exit from this world.

"He died in agony. In a modern civilised country, nobody should be dying in hospital in agony like that. It was like something out of a horror film. An awful way to see such a wonderful man die.

“I want to raise awareness because it could happen to someone else's mum or dad.”

Welwyn's Martin Sheppard with his grandaughter

Martin's daughter, Amy, says he lived a full and energetic life - Credit: Amy Sheppard

Amy, 37, has made a formal complaint to the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which runs Lister, and to health watchdog the Care Quality Commission.

She is also in talks with Care Campaign for the Vulnerable - a group calling for a public inquiry over a potential breach of basic human rights after a national review by the CQC found DNR orders had been put on 508 care home residents without their consent during the pandemic, including blanket DNRs on groups.

Law firm Roche Legal says a doctor considering a DNR order should do so in consultation with the patient and their loved ones.

Nick Carver, chief executive of the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, said: “We would like to offer our sincere condolences to Mr Sheppard’s family, who we have been in regular contact with as we investigate their concerns.

“We understand how important it is for the family to have full answers to all of their questions, and we are working hard to provide these as soon as possible.”

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