A FAMILY has been left devastated after 'failings' by hospital staff led to the death of a much-loved Blacon mum at the age of just 46.

Deborah Spark was taken to the Countess of Chester Hospital’s A&E department on August 28 last year complaining of nausea and vomiting.

These were ‘red flag’ symptoms after she had chosen to undergo decompression surgery on her brain to correct hearing loss around two weeks earlier at the Walton Centre in Liverpool.

She presented her discharge letter to the nurse so staff knew about her recent operation – but she was diagnosed with dehydration and sent home.

Around 24 hours later she had a cardiac arrest and collapsed.

She was rushed first to the Countess and then to the Walton Centre where she had emergency surgery to reduce the swelling on her brain.

Tragically though it was too late and she died on August 31.

Her surgeon told an inquest on Thursday (September 12) that she would likely have survived if doctors at the Countess had carried out a CT scan, which would have revealed the swelling on her brain.

Chester and District Standard:

Deborah (far right) with daughters Beth, Emma and Sarah-Jayne.

In a statement, the NHS trust that runs the Chester hospital said it was “deeply sorry” for the failings that led to Deborah’s death. Bosses also said a review had taken place and lessons had been learnt.

Deborah’s daughter Emma Coleclough told The Standard this week that her family blamed the Countess “100 per cent”.

She said: “My mum’s death is not a lesson, it’s somebody’s life that has been taken away. It makes me so angry. We just don’t want this to happen to anybody else.

“If they had sent her for that CT scan like they should have done then she would still be here. She was 46 when she died. She is missing out on my daughter’s life and my sister’s three boys.

“My older sister was pregnant at the time and mum was going to be with her for the birth. Now she will never meet her grandson Travis. And now my younger sister is pregnant too. If they had done their job she would still be able to see her five grandkids.

“Mum will never be there for the christenings, birthdays and weddings in our family and it was all down to their mistake.

“It was like we blinked and she was gone. It happened so fast.”

Chester and District Standard:

Deborah and daughter Sarah-Jayne.

Paying tribute to her mum on behalf of the family, she added: “She was a happy, outgoing lady and everyone loved her. She could do no wrong and she had the funniest laugh in the world. When she used to laugh she would have to cross her legs and hold her nose!

“She was known as Disco Deb as she loved going out partying. She was amazing, a total legend.”

The family has taken some comfort in the fact that Deborah was an organ donor and she has now helped save the lives of three people in their 30s who had life-threatening conditions.

“They are walking around now because of mum,” said Emma. “She was the kindest person on Earth.”

Outlining the series of events that led up to the tragedy, as heard at Thursday’s inquest, Emma said her mum had suffered with a condition called Chiari malformation – pressure from the brain on the spine that leads to hearing issues.

Deborah was embarrassed to have to wear hearing aids and opted to undergo a standard procedure at the Walton Centre to help correct this on August 15 last year.

She began to suffer pain – which she thought may just be the stitches – but this developed into nausea and vomiting and she attended the Countess in the early hours of August 28.

“She was saying she was dizzy and the room was spinning,” said Emma.

Chester and District Standard:

Deborah with granddaughter Isobella.

Despite the discharge letter being handed over, staff said she was suffering with dehydration and gave her anti-sickness medication before sending her home.

“Just before she was discharged she stood up and we had to grab her under the arms,” said Emma. “It was as though she was drunk, she was slurring her words and walking like she was drunk. But the nurse said she was absolutely fine and she needed plenty of rest and plenty of water.

“I used to work at the Countess on the appointments hotline so I just thought ‘well they know more than me’.”

They took her home but at 3am the following day Emma received a call from her sister Beth saying she had collapsed on her way to the bathroom.

“She was gasping for air, threw up and then collapsed,” said Emma. “[Her partner] ran around to her and she was turning blue. He phoned for an ambulance and tried to resuscitate her.”

She was taken to the Countess and then to the Walton Centre where an operation was carried out to drain the fluid on the brain.

“Mr Buxton [the consultant] said if they had sent mum the day before she would have survived,” Emma said. “The Countess should have sent mum for a CT scan on the 28th.

“He said just one of the symptoms she had would raise a red flag.”

The family then had to play an agonising waiting game until they were told at 12.25am on August 31 that she was unresponsive and brain dead.

Chester and District Standard:

Deborah on her wedding day in August, 1997.

At the inquest, the coroner stated that the 'failure' in allowing Deborah to be discharged from the Countess led to her death and referral and treatment would have significantly altered the outcome.

In a statement, Dr Darren Kilroy, Executive Medical Director at the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are deeply sorry for the failings in our care that led to Ms Deborah Spark’s death. Whilst we appreciate that this is of little comfort, we offer Ms Spark’s family our sincerest condolences.

“We have conducted a full systematic review of the care provided to Deborah. Where deficiencies in care are identified as in this case, we always seek to understand the root causes and to identify learning opportunities be it for individuals or for the organisation.”

Deborah leaves behind daughters Emma, Beth and Sarah-Jayne, parents John and Veronica, brother Robert, and grandchildren Isobella, two, Tylor, seven, Toby, five, Travis, 10 months, and baby Ronnie who is on the way.

Chester and District Standard:

Deborah with grandkids Tylor, Isobella and Toby.