The family of a seriously ill elderly woman hospitalised after a heart attack say she was so frightened of being sent home she suffered a second attack.

Martin Richards and his brother Jamie are fighting to keep their mother Shirley, who has leukaemia, diabetes and high blood pressure, at Watford General Hospital.

Ms Richards, 81, who lives alone in South Oxhey, was admitted to hospital on September 12 after waking up at 4am suffering from chest pains.

Doctors confirmed the grandmother had a heart attack, but a week later her family were told she had to go back home and she was moved to a discharge ward.

But Ms Richards and her family say it is not safe to send her – and she had another attack on Wednesday.

Martin said: "The stress of her thinking she is going home has led to her suffering a second heart attack.

"The way the hospital is treating her is absolutely disgusting. She hasn’t been properly assessed. The hospital has rushed this decision. They think it is easy to just send her home.

"I say to them, how can you not see she needs respite care? We’ve had no proof that mum is safe enough to go home. An NHS continuing healthcare assessment hasn't even taken place as far as we are aware."

Watford Observer:

Watford General Hospital

Ms Richards, who used to work at Oxhey Park golf club, has leukaemia but is not currently undergoing chemotherapy.

She also suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, and son Martin says she has problems with her hearing and eyesight.

He added: "My mum fears she is going to die in her sleep from a heart attack. She requires 24-hour care, which we cannot provide at home for her. All they've offered is carers to visit her three times a week. She needs respite care to see if she can build her strength up again and then we can assess the situation again."

Watford General Hospital chief nurse Tracey Carter said: "We cannot comment on this case for reasons of patient confidentiality but we always place our patients’ safety and quality of care at the forefront of our decision making. We work closely with our health and social care partners to ensure the best possible onward care for our patients."

A Hertfordshire County Council spokesperson added: "The health and safety of our residents is one of our top priorities at Hertfordshire County Council. We are aware of this case and are working with the family and our partners to find a suitable solution."