The family of a much-loved grandfather who died after falling twice in hospital say he should have been better monitored.

Roy Eason died at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton days after suffering a traumatic head injury following a fall from his hospital bed.

The 78-year-old, from Peacehaven, had been admitted to hospital with a chest infection on October 23, 2022.

An inquest into Mr Eason’s death held at Brighton Town Hall last week, heard Mr Eason, who was “confused” due to the infection when he arrived at hospital, first had a fall in A&E.

A risk assessment undertaken following his fall classed the father of two as being at high risk of falls. No risk assessment was made prior to his fall.

He was later transferred to the acute admissions ward where he was placed on bay watch, meaning a healthcare assistant would provide observation within the bay.

The court was told nurses heard a loud noise and Mr Eason was found on the floor at 3.30am on October 25.

The grandfather-of-one suffered a traumatic cranial injury and died on November 2.

The court heard from junior sister Ava Taganna, who said despite being down two healthcare assistants that night, she felt she and her team could adequately care for the 45 patients on the ward.

The ward usually has seven healthcare assistants, she said. She said there would be occasions where as few as two or three healthcare assistants are covering a shift.

It was heard Mr Eason was stepped down from bay watch by a nurse during the night.

Ms Taganna said she was not informed of this decision and it was not noted down. This was “unusual” she said.

Ms Taganna said she passed Mr Eason’s bed “several times” during the night and “immediately” before his fall and said he was asleep, and the bed rails were up.

“Were they found up when staff attended his fall?” asked assistant coroner for West Sussex and Brighton and Hove Joanne Andrews.

“I was on my break,” said Ms Taganna.

“They told me they were up.”

She said Mr Eason’s bed was set at the standard height and came to her waist.

Ms Andrews asked Ms Taganna if a discussion had taken place would she have taken Mr Eason off bay watch.

“I would have left bay watch in place as he had had a fall in A&E,” said Ms Taganna.

Ms Andrews concluded that Mr Eason died from injuries from an unwitnessed fall and that his death was an accident.

She said she was unable to make findings about how Mr Eason fell from the bed and said there was no evidence “one way or the other” to show if the bed rails were up or down when he fell.

“If the bed rails were up he would have had to have climbed over,” she said.

She added that if Mr Eason had continued on bay watch the chances of staff seeing him fall would have increased but that she could not say if remaining on bay watch would have prevented his fall.

Mr Eason’s wife Christina and son Glen were dismayed by the findings of the coroner.

During the inquest and following its conclusion they raised concerns about his care at the hospital and the adequacy of his supervision on the acute ward.

They said he should not have been taken off bay watch.

Speaking after the inquest, Mr Eason said his father’s care at the hospital was “terrible from the start” and that he should have remained on bay watch.

He said his father, who prior to his hospital admission was receiving palliative care in the community for cancer, was “on a lot of medication”.

“He couldn’t even sit up never mind stand up,” he said.

"Even if he was determined to get up it would have taken a lot.

"I knew my dad was going to die but not then and not that way with no dignity."

Mrs Eason, who was married to Mr Eason for 54 years, described her husband as a fun person and a “joker” who would help her in the garden.

“It seemed like everyone liked him,” she said.

“He loved his garden and his dog.

“He should have been with me, not with them.”

Dr Andy Heeps, chief medical officer at University Hospitals Sussex, said:

“We offer our deepest condolences to Mr Eason’s family for their loss. We note the coroners' findings of accidental death and will be studying the findings to see if there are further improvements we can make. 

“We are always willing to talk to families if they are unhappy with their care and encourage people to express any concerns they have with us directly so that we can fully investigate any issues.”  

The trust said since 2022, it has implemented improvements, observations and protocols as well as the the introduction of a "falls toolkit" in December 2023 to help prevent patients from falling while under its care.