Postman Pat author John Cunliffe died 'unnecessarily uncomfortable' death due to shocking levels of care, wife reveals

John Cunliffe, author of children's series Postman Pat, received substandard levels of care in his final days, his wife has revealed. Picture: David Parry/SWNS
John Cunliffe, author of children's series Postman Pat, received substandard levels of care in his final days, his wife has revealed. Picture: David Parry/SWNS
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Children's author John Cunliffe died after days of "unnecessary pain and misery" due to administrative hospital errors, his wife has said in a heartbreaking letter.

Mr Cunliffe, who wrote the Postman Pat and Rosie and Jim series, died of heart failure at his home in Ilkley in September 2018.

John Cunliffe, author of children's series Postman Pat, received substandard levels of care in his final days, his wife has revealed. Picture: David Parry/SWNS

John Cunliffe, author of children's series Postman Pat, received substandard levels of care in his final days, his wife has revealed. Picture: David Parry/SWNS

His widow Sylvia Cunliffe revealed the 85-year-old was left in discomfort following a mix-up with the bed provided, while a carer sent to watch him during the night was found fast asleep and "snoring" next to him in his final moments.

Mrs Cunliffe said no-one was there to wake her to alert her to her husband's imminent passing, and that she was only there to say goodbye after discovering him "by chance".

The letter to The Guardian on Thursday said: "My husband, John Cunliffe, the author of Postman Pat, also hoped for a 'good death' at home, but the administrative mix-ups in the provision of a hospital bed soon put paid to that.

""First of all the bed's pump failed within an hour of being installed, then later on the bed was found to be too short, so John had days of unnecessary pain and misery before an engineer appeared to extend the bed, which he refused to do since John was too ill to vacate the bed, so my son had to extend it while an engineer intstructed him.

"There was also an unusable commode provided, plus another one exactly the same day after his death."

Mrs Cunliffe continued: "On the night he died the night carer fell asleep, and it was just by chance that I came downstairs to find him in his death throes with a snoring carer by his side.

"So much for a 'good death' at home. I envy those who achieved it."

John Cunliffe lived in Colne, Lancashire, and Kendal, Cumbria, before moving to Yorkshire where he was patron of Ilkley Literature Festival.

A tribute paid to Mr Cunliffe on the Literature Festival's Facebook page following the news of his death said: "John, who was a long-time Ilkley resident, became patron of our Children's Festival when it started in 2003 and delighted children and parents at many festival events over the years."