THEY were living their dream, but it ended in tragedy.
Reginald and Joyce Holland had moved from their home in Hythe to enjoy a long and happy retirement in Spain.
But that was cut short when 85-year-old Reginald died in hospital – and just four days later his wife died as a result of the lack of care she received in the same hospital.
And an inquest heard that the bed sores suffered by Joyce were “the worst” a coroner had ever seen.
Now their heartbroken family is calling for action to be taken to ensure that other British couples enjoying their retirement in Spain do not suffer the same lack of care.
Southampton Coroner’s Court heard how 78-year-old Mrs Holland died just days after flying back to the UK with her family in March, after the Spanish hospital she was being treated in insisted that she was discharged.
Sadly her husband, who had been admitted to hospital after a fall at their home at the beginning of March, had died just two days before they were due to fly home, on March 30.
Mrs Holland had been admitted to hospital at the end of January, a few weeks after fracturing her hip after falling off a bus in Alicante, where she and her husband of almost 60 years had set up home in 2001.
Mrs Holland, who had always been active and volunteered at a home for stray animals, spent the next two months in a hospital bed, barely moving, which resulted in a large and painful bed sore that the hospital failed to tell her family about, the inquest heard.
A post-mortem revealed that the sore was so badly infected that it had eroded into the bone and soft tissue of the pelvis. It was this infection that resulted in her death on April 1.
Pathologist Eleanor Jaynes told the court she was “quite surprised” at the size of the sore and when asked by the coroner if she felt Mrs Holland was fit to be discharged she replied “no”.
Recording a verdict of death due to lack of care, deputy coroner Gordon Densen described Mrs Holland’s bed sore as “appalling”. He added: “These are the worst I have ever witnessed. The fact that [the hospital] wished to discharge her is a clear example of an extreme lack of care.”
Her son Mark, from Hythe, said: “We don’t want this happening to other people in Spain.
People need to be aware this can happen and something needs to be done to ensure it doesn’t happen again. There was no communication from the hospital and when we tried to get answers, we were told that no one speaks English. It wasn’t until we hired a private care agency that we even knew that mum had a bed sore.
“We want something put into place where non-Spanish-speaking patients and their relatives are given a clear translation of everything that is going on. We believe that if they had fallen in England, both my parents would still be here today.”