A RUNCORN mum died in agony after a 'scandalous' failure in care by the hospital which was caring for her, claim her distraught family.

Relatives of 68-year-old Margaret Ward are now taking legal action against Warrington Hospital where she died in November 2012.

Mrs Ward, of Needham Close, suffered dramatic weight loss which doctors failed to recognise as a symptom of mesenteric ischaemia.

Her family claim that delays in reaching a diagnosis, performing appropriate tests and miscommunication between medical staff meant her condition was allowed to dramatically deteriorate.

Her son Peter Ward, aged 47, a shift production operator and dad-of-two, said: "My mother's case was nothing short of a scandal.

"The more we find out about what happened the more we find things that went wrong.

"I wish I'd pushed harder to make sure she was being looked after when she was alive but I just assumed the doctors were doing everything they could for my mother."

Her family were so concerned they paid for a private consultant who made a suspected diagnosis of mesenteric ischaemia, which had been ruled out by other doctors.

Mr Ward added: "Up to then, we had been told she had symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

"When my mother died we lost someone who was the centre of the family.

"She was a wife, a mother-of-four and grandmother to 13 - it would have been 14 but she died before she could see the latest grandchild.

"When she died it tore this family apart. The loss of our mother has had a dramatic impact on the family.

"I think the stress of my father losing his wife of nearly 50 years contributed to him having a massive stroke a few months later, with devastating life-changing consequences."

He said his mum and dad Tony, aged 72, would have celebrated their golden wedding anniversary this year.

Coroner Geoffrey Roberts issued a report highlighting concerns he had about the hospital following an inquest in December last year.

He ruled Mrs Ward died of natural causes but pointed to a number of occasions where no single medic was in charge of her care, resulting in confusion about who was responsible for the next stage of diagnosis and care.

Lawyer Jennifer Crompton, of Slater & Gordon, said: "Mrs Ward's treatment highlights some deeply worrying failures in the systems of care at that hospital.

"There appears to have been a serious breakdown in communications between consultants at the start of her care which were never properly corrected during her treatment.

"This breakdown in communication led to significant and eventually fatal delays in Mrs Ward receiving treatment."

Mel Pickup, chief executive of Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We want to extend our sincere condolences to Mrs Ward’s family. For anyone to lose a loved one is an absolute tragedy and our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family.

“Although the coroner stated that nothing would have changed the outcome in this case, we have accepted that the care provided to Mrs Ward was not what we would have expected and we have apologised to the family for this.

"We carried out a detailed investigation following Mrs Ward’s death and have made a number of changes in response to the findings of the investigation to further improve the services we provide.

“We have cooperated fully with the recommendations made by the coroner and have shared these with the family.”