Man died of cancer after being kept on a short-stay ward for weeks

Dead fisherman’s family claim they were never told he had terminal cancer and ‘only found out by reading his death certificate’

  • Keith Rumley was given painkillers when he visited his GP with back pain
  • He was eventually admitted to hospital when his health deteriorated  
  • His family claim they were left in the dark about his cancer until his death
  • Grimsby’s Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital said the correct care was given 

The family of a fisherman who was in hospital dying of cancer for weeks were not told about his diagnosis until after his death.  

Keith Rumley, of Grimsby, had first visited his GP in July 2018 with back pain and was given painkillers on repeated visits.

He was eventually admitted to hospital, where scans revealed he had a metastatic adenocarcinoma. 

But his family claim they were kept in the dark while they visited his bedside until his death certificate revealed the diagnosis. 

Father-of-five Mr Rumley was in so much pain he was unable to speak or even hold his wife’s hand in his final few days. 

The hospital, Grimsby’s Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital, said an investigation found the correct care was given.

Keith Rumley was left on a short-stay ward dying of cancer for weeks, while his family were not told about his diagnosis until after his death

Wife Susan Rumley was unable to hold her husband’s hand in his last days because he was in so much pain. She says doctors denied he had cancer 

Mr Rumley’s wife Susan said: ‘He was left there, in a bed, for four solid weeks seeing doctor after doctor. 

‘After a week he wasn’t awake, wasn’t talking, wasn’t eating and had to be forced to drink. 

‘It got to the stage that, if I even touched his hand, he’d say to me “please let go of my hand”. I’d ask why, and he’d say “Because it hurts. Please don’t touch me”.

‘I felt for him because his dignity was taken away. He wasn’t there anymore.’  

Mr Rumley had first sought help for his back pain in July 2018, visiting his GP and being given painkillers for it. 


Adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer that affects the mucus-secreting glands found throughout the body.

It can occur anywhere in the body, with is prevalence varying depending on where it affects.

The disease is most common in the:

  • Lung – adenocarcinoma is the most common type of non-small cell lung cancer, which makes up 80 per cent of lung cancers
  • Prostate – adenocarcinoma accounts for 99 per cent of all prostate cancers
  • Pancreas
  • Oesophagus – adenocarcinoma is the most common type
  • Colorectal – adenocarcinoma accounts for 95 per cent of colon and rectal cancers
  • Cervix – adenocarcinoma is responsible in more than one in 10 cases 

Adenocarcinoma affects around one in every 100 people diagnosed with cancer of the nose and nasal sinuses. 

Treatment varies on where the cancer grows in the body.

It may include surgery to remove the cancerous tissue.

Radiation and chemotherapy may also be used in combination with surgery.

Source: Cancer Treatment Centers of America  

His daughter Carly said: ‘He started having a niggling back pain. He thought maybe he had pulled his back or something like that and eventually went to the GP.

‘He went from being a normal bloke doing normal things to the state that he couldn’t even sit up, stand up, or go to the toilet.’

After countless visits to the GP and A&E, he was admitted to the Emergency Care Centre at Grimsby’s Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital due to his deteriorating health and more reports of back pain.

He was then transferred to the Acute Medical Unit, a short-stay ward.

Patients here are either transferred to another medical ward or discharged home within 24 hours of admission, according to the North Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust website. 

Mr Rumley’s family say he spent the next four weeks on the short-stay ward, while they remained unaware of what was wrong with him. The hospital did not comment on whether Mr Rumley was left on a short-stay ward for four weeks.

He was only moved off the ward to go to St Andrew’s Hospice after a month, where he received end-of-life care until his tragic death six days later on October 9.

It was only when the family received the death certificate that they say they knew he had cancer.

Mrs Rumley said: ‘Every time he came home from the hospital he got weaker and weaker, until one day a doctor had him admitted to find out what was wrong with him.

‘I was told that he had lesions on the spine and it was cancer, but the doctors denied it the next day, saying it was only “suspected”.’ 

Carly added: ‘The doctors kept coming and going, one minute he had cancer, one minute he didn’t. By the end, he had basically withered to nothing.’

The hospital Mr Rumley was at – Grimsby’s Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital (pictured) – said an investigation found the correct care was given

Julie Winterton, another daughter, said: ‘We asked a doctor straight, “has he got cancer?”, and she would not tell us straight. 

‘All we wanted to know is did he have it, or didn’t he?’

CT, MRI, and bone scans revealed Mr Rumley had adenocarcinoma, a type of cancer that forms in mucus-secreting gland cells in tissues that line internal organs.

Mr Rumley had metastatic adenocarcinoma, where the cancer spreads around the body from its origin.

But sometimes doctors can’t tell where the cancer started, which makes treatment challenging. 

Adenocarcinomas account for the majority of cancers in the breast, lung, prostate, pancreas and colon with varying symptoms.

The family submitted a formal complaint to the trust’s Patient Advice and Liaison Service following Mr Rumley’s death.

But an investigation concluded that on each occasion the correct care and treatment was provided at the Emergency Care Centre.

Carly said: ‘Procedures need to be changed how to treat people, how to treat relatives. We don’t want another family to sit and go through what we went through, living in hell.

‘My dad didn’t get that chance. He did not get his chance to die with dignity. His grandkids couldn’t even hug him because he was in so much pain. 

‘The only respect my dad got was when we got him out of the hospital and got him into St Andrew’s. 

‘That was when the proper care began, they did everything for my dad, for my mum.’

Mr Rumley is survived by his wife, daughters Carly, Julie, and Victoria, sons Colin and Kevin, and 13 grandchildren.

He was originally from Mansfield and came to Grimsby to get involved with the fishing industry in the area. He met Mrs Rumley and never left.

He then spent the rest of his working life in the fish industry, and in his retirement spent time with his family, as well as charity work for When You Wish upon a Star.

His family have set up the Keith Rumley Dachshund Foundation in his honour.

Joanna Loughborough, senior nurse with a lead for patient experience at North Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘I would like to offer my sincere condolences to this gentleman’s family.

‘Whilst we have investigated and responded to their concerns we would like to invite them to contact our PALs department to discuss any further concerns if they wish.’ 

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