Yorkshire hospital staff arrange five-way bed swap so married couple can spend last moments together

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A couple were able to spend their 66th wedding anniversary together before dying just days apart thanks to kind-hearted nurses.

The devoted pair were admitted separately to Hull Royal Infirmary for different medical conditions - and ended up being treated in wards nine floors apart.

But when staff realised that Ron Bilton, 89, was critically ill with multiple organ failure, they arranged a five-way bed swap so that his wife Mary, 86, who was in the final stages of cancer, could hold his hand one final time.

Mary was admitted to hospital when Ron was already being treated, and their granddaughter told staff about the heartbreaking situation.

Ron was on Ward 90 and Mary was in the Elderly Assessment Unit nine floors below, so nurses swung into action to move other patients to accommodate Mary next to Ron's bed.

Ron died first and Mary was cared for by staff until her own death days later.

Sister Rosie Featherstone said:

“We were determined to do everything we could so they could be together at the end.

“We know it made a real difference to Mrs Bilton that she could be with him and she was able to sit in a wheelchair at the side of his bed holding his hand before he died.

“We were all crying when Mr Bilton died but glad we could help them be together. Everyone on the ward worked as a team to make it happen.”

There was initially no spare bed for Mary on Ron's ward until hospital managers gave permission for the unusual swap.

Staff on the ward have now been nominated for a Moments of Magic award, organised by Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust to recognise staff who go above and beyond their duties.

Stacey Healand, Senior Matron on the Department of Elderly Medicine, said: “We have a great team in the department who always put their patients at the centre of everything we do.

“We’re very proud of what the team achieved on behalf of Mr and Mrs Bilton and their family.”

The couple, from Barton-upon-Humber, have since been buried together after a joint funeral.