A WIDOW has bitterly criticised a health trust over the way in which the case of her dying husband was dealt with at the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton.

Jill Calvert said that instead of being placed in a private room, her 81-year-old husband, Jack, a cancer sufferer, spent his last hours in a six-bed ward where World Cup football was being broadcast on television.

Now Mrs Calvert, of Castle Bolton, has complained to Northallerton Health Services NHS Trust in the hope that action will be taken to save other grieving families from undergoing what she described as a needlessly callous and distressing experience.

Mr Calvert, who had private medical insurance, was admitted to the medical assessment unit at the Friarage as an emergency on June 14 following a mini stroke the previous day, with subsequent deep vein thrombosis.

In her letter to the health trust, copies of which she sent to local MP William Hague and the D&S Times, Mrs Calvert said: "He was obviously gravely ill, having suffered from prostate cancer for seven years and bone cancer for five years.

"Having always been in BUPA, and being told that he would be in the assessment unit only temporarily, we asked several times for a private room as he was obviously distressed and in severe pain.

"The following day we arrived to find he had been transferred to a six-bed unit in Brompton Ward. We were taken aside and told that he had less than 24 hours to live. We asked again for a private room to no avail.

"By this time my husband was unconscious and yet still visibly distressed. The World Cup was on television in the ward and we were unable even to have the privacy of pulling the curtains around the bed as it interfered with fellow patients view of the TV. We could not even say goodbye to him in private."

She concluded: "The circumstances in which my husband died in your hospital were appalling and heart-rending."

Mrs Calvert, whose husband was a surveyor with a farm at Castle Bolton, told the D&S Times: "We were told it was because there were no private rooms available at the time, yet you could walk through the hospital and see a number of wards completely shut.

"I decided to write this letter because I was so angry and the family were so upset. There was just nothing we could do. We could not say goodbye to Jack with this football match blaring on. My sister's husband came very close to having a nervous breakdown."

She added: "Jack had always been treated before at the Christie Hospital in Manchester, which is all NHS, and they were marvellous."

A health trust spokeswoman said: "We would like to offer our sincere condolences to the family of Mr Calvert. We can confirm we have received an official complaint which is being investigated."