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Mother died after developing sepsis from surgery to remove a BUNION

Mother-of-one died after developing sepsis from surgery to remove a BUNION

  • Pamela Simmons underwent a minor operation to have the bony lump removed
  • Days later, she complained of feeling unwell and collapsed at home
  • Despite being blue-lighted to hospital, Ms Simmons was discharged 
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A mother-of-one died after developing sepsis from an operation to remove a bunion. 

Pamela Simmons underwent a minor operation to have the bony lump removed at Holme Valley Memorial Hospital, West Yorkshire, and was discharged the same day.

Days later, Ms Simmons collapsed at home after complaining of feeling unwell and was blue-lighted to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary. 

Ms Simmons was then sent home from hospital despite her medical notes stating she may be suffering from sepsis.

By the time she was eventually diagnosed four days later, it was too late and the ex-policewoman tragically died on December 27 2015 aged 47. Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust has admitted it provided ‘below standard’ care.  

Mother-of-one Pamela Simmons died after developing sepsis from an operation to remove a bunion. After having the operation at Holme Valley Memorial Hospital, the ex-policewoman was discharged the same day but started feeling unwell and collapsed a few days later 

After losing consciousness at home, Ms Simmons was blue-lighted to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary. She was sent home despite her medical notes mentioning she may have sepsis 

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust admitted it provided ‘below standard’ care. A spokesperson said it has learned from this and will ensure it does not happen again

Ms Simmons began to feel unwell 11 days after her bunion operation. After being rushed to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, medics noted she had been suffering from a urinary tract infection for the past three days, which was to be ‘treated as sepsis.’

Despite this warning, Ms Simmons was sent home, only to be re-admitted four days later when her GP became suspicious she may have sepsis.

On Christmas Day, a chest X-ray showed shadowing on both of her lungs, confirming her diagnosis.

Despite doctors fighting to keep the ex-policewoman alive, she passed away two days later.  

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Ms Simmons’ cause of death was noted as pneumonia on her death certificate. Yet, after an intervention from the doctor who cared for her in the ICU, her husband Barrie was told his wife died as a result of multi-organ failure from sepsis.

Barrie, who was married to Ms Simmons for eight years, said: ‘Pamela’s death devastated the whole family and community. As a policewoman, she was well-known in the community and was much loved and respected.

‘Nearly three years on from Pamela’s death, it is still hard to believe that she is no longer with us. 

‘She was always kind and polite to everyone and was happy to help whoever, however she could. She didn’t deserve what happened.

‘It’s so important that its symptoms and signs are spotted quickly, to ensure those suffering are given the correct care as soon as is possible.’ 


Sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, occurs when the body reacts to an infection by attacking its own organs and tissues.

Some 44,000 people die from sepsis every year in the UK. Worldwide, someone dies from the condition every 3.5 seconds. 

Sepsis has similar symptoms to flu, gastroenteritis and a chest infection.

These include:

  • Slurred speech or confusion
  • Extreme shivering or muscle pain
  • Passing no urine in a day
  • Severe breathlessness
  • It feels like you are dying
  • Skin mottled or discoloured

Symptoms in children are:

  • Fast breathing
  • Fits or convulsions
  • Mottled, bluish or pale skin
  • Rashes that do not fade when pressed
  • Lethargy
  • Feeling abnormally cold

Under fives may be vomiting repeatedly, not feeding or not urinating for 12 hours. 

Anyone can develop sepsis but it is most common in people who have recently had surgery, have a urinary catheter or have stayed in hospital for a long time.

Other at-risk people include those with weak immune systems, chemotherapy patients, pregnant women, the elderly and the very young.

Treatment varies depending on the site of the infection but involves antibiotics, IV fluids and oxygen, if necessary.

Source: UK Sepsis Trust and NHS Choices

Following intervention from the clinical negligence lawyers Irwin Mitchell, Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust has admitted a breach of duty.

An independent expert claims Ms Simmons would likely have survived if she had not been sent home from hospital.

Tracy Tai, the medical negligence specialist representing Barrie, said: ‘The level of care that Pamela received fell way below what patients should expect to receive with devastating consequences.

‘Pamela’s case is a tragic example of what can happen when undiagnosed infections are left untreated.

‘Highlighting the importance and need for a prompt diagnosis of sepsis so appropriate care and treatment can be administered as soon as possible.

‘We work closely with UK Sepsis Trust to raise awareness of the condition and more must be done to educate our doctors so that the signs of sepsis are recognised earlier when the chances of survival are significantly greater.’ 

An independent expert said Ms Simmons would likely have survived if she had not been sent home from hospital. Ms Simmons’ cause of death was noted as pneumonia on her death certificate, however, a doctor stated it was multiple organ failure as a result of sepsis 

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust’s medical director, David Birkenhead, said: ‘We are very sorry that the care our Trust provided for Mrs Simmons fell below the high standard we strive to meet and we would again extend our apologies and condolences to her family.

‘As a Trust, we take this very seriously and have shared learning to ensure that this does not happen in the future.’

Dr Ron Daniels, chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, added: ‘Experiences like Pamela’s remind us of the devastating effects of sepsis.

‘Every year in the UK 250,000 people are affected by sepsis, 44,000 of whom lose their lives to the condition.

‘If diagnosed quickly, however, sepsis is easily treatable and we believe that earlier diagnosis and treatment across the UK would save at least 14,000 lives a year.’


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