A Formby woman is demanding an urgent review of out-of-hours health care after her dying mother spent two-hours screaming in agony at her home because no-one was available to administer vital pain relief in the final hours of her life.
Tina Morris, 50, told Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson that her 75-year-old mother, Patricia Spike, had been treated "worse than you would treat a dog".
Patricia Spike was in Southport Hospital where she was being treated for a variety of conditions, including terminal cancer.
When doctors told Tina that the end of her mother's life was drawing close, the family decided to take Patricia back home so she could die in her own home.
Daughter Tina received assurances that she would receive the care she needed from district health services - including a health centre, just yards from her mum's home on Liverpool Road.
She was given the pain relief drugs her mother would need and taken home.
But when the time came for Patricia to be injected with pain relief, Tina was told that no one was available to come out and administer it.
Tina spent the next two hours pleading with GPs, nurses and ambulance staff to administer the pain killers, while throughout her mother was screaming and writhing in agony.
So distraught by her mother's condition, Tina told the health professionals that she would put a pillow over her head rather than allow her to suffer any more.
A GP from a nearby surgery finally came out and administered the drugs.
Less than 24 hours later, Patricia was dead.
Tina has now turned to Bill Esterson to urge him to fight to ensure that no one has to go through what her mother went through.
Tina told the MP: "We had a lot of problems at Southport Hospital throughout mum's illness over the past two years, simply because there's not enough nurses there to care for the patients.
"So mum told me that she wanted to die at home. When we were told that the end was getting close, we decided to take her home. we wanted to make her as comfortable as possible and we got assurances from the doctors that we would get all the support we needed from the district nurses.
"We were told the district nurses were based just yards from where mum's house is, and that the on-call GP lives in Formby. We were confident everything would be ok. They gave us the necessary pain killers and we took her home.
"But when the time came that mum needed the pain killers, we called for the district nurses, but they were on answer machine.
"The pain was getting so bad I held her in my arms. Her screams were blood curdling.
"We then called the GPs who refused to come out to administer pain relief. We called the ambulance service, but they said they weren't allowed to come out to administer pain relief either.
"All the time, mum was screaming in agony. A little while back, she broke her leg in four places and even then she didn't want to make a fuss. So to see her screaming like that showed just how much pain she was in. It was heartbreaking for us all.
"I told the GPs that I'd give her the drugs myself, but I was then told that I wasn't allowed to.
"I begged and pleaded with them to come out. They must have been able to hear mum's screams.
"I called 999, but they said they weren't allowed to administer pain relief.
"So I told them that I couldn't allow mum to suffer any more. I told them I was going to put a pillow over her head.
"Only then did I get an ambulance crew and a GP who eventually gave mum the medication.
"But that was two whole hours of mum screaming in total pain.
"Mum died the next day. That was on February 23.
"I can't even begin to cope with the grief because of what I know mum went through in the final hours of her life."
Tina said she was determined to expose what her mum went through so that action is taken to ensure that no one has to go through what Patricia went through again.
Tina said: "I asked one of the health professionals if my mum's experience had been a one off. But, to my horror they said no. What mum had gone through was fairly common.
"Mum was discharged from Southport Hospital on what they call the 'Vigil' programme. The terms and conditions of this programme stipulate that help will be available 24-hours a day by district nurses and GPs. The hospital obviously believed that to be the case because they were the instructions relayed on to me. Why did the doctors not also understand this?
"When I enquired, I was told that there isn't enough staff to cope. I've seen that in Southport Hospital where I ended up staying with my mum 24 hours a day to make sure she was getting the care she needed. I ended up feeding and looking after the other patients in mum's ward because there weren't enough nurses to do it.
"I was told that on the night mum needed her pain relief at home, there was only three district nurses covering the whole of Sefton and Liverpool.
"We owe the NHS a lot. The nurses do a wonderful job. But there's just not enough of them. Procedures need to be updated to take into account the real needs of patients.
"And we need to make caring for people the number one priority of the NHS again.
"No one must ever go through what mum went through and I will fight until the very end to ensure that everything is done to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson said urgent action was needed to ensure that no one else has to go through what Patricia and her family went through.
Bill said: "Patricia's experiences are shocking and extremely upsetting. No one should have to go through what Patricia went through. No one should have to go through what Patricia's family went through - having to watch as a loved one is screaming in agony in the last hours of her life.
"The NHS was set up to give people the care as and when they need it. But the system failed Patricia and her family.
"I have already started proceedings to demand a thorough investigation into Patricia's experience, which I have also taken to Chief Executive of Southport Hospital Jonathan Parry.
"I am also forwarding my case notes to Health Minister Jeremy Hunt calling on him to launch an immediate investigation.
"Tina was told that a shortage of nurses was one of the reasons her mum was forced to suffer for so long. Since 2010, there are 4,000 fewer nurses in the NHS.
"That is obviously going to have an impact on the kind of health service that is being provided and the kind of care being offered.
"I am demanding urgent action on this both locally and nationally. No one must ever again have to go through what Patricia and her family went through."