WHEN dying cancer patient Sharon Hardwick was put on the Liverpool Care Pathway it was the final straw for her husband.

Alan Hardwick, now 71, from Sedgefield, was already beside himself with worry after a non-cancerous lung infection which started in 2008 turned out in 2010 to be lung cancer.

Bitter that doctors had missed the cancer for so long, he became horrified when he realised that hospital staff had put Sharon on the Liverpool end-of-life pathway without telling her next-of-kin.

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"In January 2012 they diagnosed lung cancer and started chemo and radiotherapy. She was admitted to ward 26 at North Tees Hospital and then we found do not resuscitate signs in her medical records. No-one had discussed this with the family yet they did this three time."

Between July and October staff started to reduce his wifes medication, food and fluids.

"They were trying to withdraw food and fluids without telling the family," he added.

The family eventually got Sharon transferred to Sedgefield General Hospital where she died in October last year.

Andrew Cummings, 80, from Darlington, was unaware that his wifes care in her dying days at Darlington Memorial Hospital involved withholding fluids.

His wife, Audrey, was admitted to the Darlington hospital with a urine infection in September last year before being diagnosed with severe heart problems.

He recalled being called into a room and a doctor told the family there was nothing more they could do for her and she was going to receive palliative care.

"My son and daughter came down and realised Audrey was not getting anything to eat or drink," he told The Northern Echo.

"It was like the secret service, you are the relative but no one tells you anything. The Liverpool Care Pathway wasnt mentioned because the first time I heard of it was after she died and realised that was what had happened to her."

David Emerton, medical director for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said he was "sorry" that Mr Hardwick felt let down by the care his wife received and invited him to contact officials to discuss the case.

Mike Wright, director of nursing at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust offered condolences to Mr Cummings for the loss of his wife and acknowledged that staff could have communicated better.