The family of a woman who died after being seriously injured during reconstructive cancer surgery has been awarded more than £100,000.
Some patients who had maxillofacial surgery at Leicester Royal Infirmary between 2009 and 2016 have since had problems eating and talking.
Margaret Burrell, 76, from Ratby, who died in 2019, was deemed to have received “negligent care”.
University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust said it was “truly sorry”.
Mrs Burrell underwent an operation in March 2016 to remove a small tumour in her mouth and replace it with a small amount of skin from her arm.
However, the first operation resulted in her constantly taking saliva into her lungs, instead of her stomach, her family said. She had to have a further three operations on her face and jaw and also suffered an infection in her arm caused by the first operation.
In a letter seen by the BBC, the trust admitted negligence “hastened” Mrs Burrell’s death in the final stages of her life.
The letter said: “[Mrs Burrell’s] poor swallowing brought about her death sooner than would otherwise have been the case.”
Mrs Burrell’s son, Stephen, said his mother was “fit and well” when she entered hospital but following “negligent care”, she suffered “horrendous, life-changing injuries”.
He said: “Mum couldn’t walk without the aid of a frame, couldn’t talk properly, she never ate food or drink via her mouth from the date of the first operation through to her death three years later.
“She couldn’t walk properly, raise her left arm, move her neck properly and became incontinent.
“She became increasingly depressed and withdrawn, and we know that in her final weeks of life that she didn’t want to be alive.”
The reconstructive maxillofacial surgery service for head and neck cancers was suspended in November 2016 until 2018 following a visit from the Royal College of Surgeons, after dental trainees raised safety concerns.
The hospital subsequently contacted 101 people who had surgery during that seven-year period who might have been harmed; 13 of whom said they felt they had “definitely suffered physical harm” and one person who suggested they had suffered “psychological harm”.
Rob Sissons BBC East Midlands Today Health Correspondent
These things are few and far between but that is no consolation to the families.
What’s concerning in this case is that the situation went on for so long and it was down to dental trainees to raise the alarm.
The case raises questions about what safeguards were in place within the NHS.
Mrs Burrell’s case – which resulted in a sum of more than £100,000 being awarded to her estate – is believed to be one of the first to be settled.
Andrew Furlong, medical director at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said: “We are truly sorry Mrs Burrell did not receive the care she deserved and our thoughts and condolences are with her family.”
He added that “a number” of patients treated by the service between 2009 and 2016 “did not have the outcome they should have”.
He said a comprehensive review had taken place to understand what had happened and prevent it happening again.