THE wife of a man who died after an operation was shocked to hear her husband would still be here if he had not had the procedure.
Sylvia Gilson, from Chulmleigh, heard at an inquest that her husband Alden died from an infection he contracted after an operation at North Devon District Hospital.
Mr Gilson had been in to have a colostomy bag removed, which Mrs Gilson says was described to her as a "routine" operation.
However Mr Gilson contracted clostridium difficile after the operation and was put on life support in the intensive care unit a few days later.
His condition did not improve and he died on August 11 last year.
Mrs Gilson said: "Although we always knew that Alden was feeling fit and well and was very active prior to his planned operation to reverse his stoma, it was still a shock to hear the consultant say at the inquest that had he not carried out the operation, Alden would be with us today with a prognosis of five years."
The surgeon who carried out Mr Gilson's operation claimed he was put under pressure by his patient to remove the colostomy bag, which Mrs Gilson says was not the case.
"I was disappointed to hear him say that he only carried out the operation because he was under pressure from my husband to do so," she said.
"It's true that Alden had always wanted a reversal because he had been told that the stoma was a temporary measure and could easily be reversed.
"The consultant's statement gave the impression that my husband was hurrying the surgeon to operate as soon as possible but this was not the case."
Mrs Gilson said her husband was a member of the committee that organises Chulmleigh Old Fair, which he was due to open before his death, and that he had been told the operation was routine and he would only be in hospital for a week.
"After the operation we were told that everything had gone according to plan and when I visited my husband in Fortescue Ward he was feeling good because he had been told he would probably be home for the weekend," she said.
"He had already written his opening speech for the fair and was very much looking forward to the event because he had been a hard working member of the fair committee for many years."
Mrs Gilson raised the issue of cleanliness and hygiene at the hospital, saying that on a number of occasions, particularly during her husband's first operation, he was left without being able to wash for days.
"My husband was quite fastidious. He could not bear to be dirty," she said. "None of the issues which I had previously raised with the hospital concerning cleanliness and basic hygiene were dealt with at the inquest.
"I still worry that other people could suffer in the same way because those very same points are still not rectified and I, and others have been witness to them still occurring."
Carolyn Mills, director of nursing, said: "Inquests are difficult for families and sometimes not all the evidence is digested at the hearing.
"If the family would like to speak to us about the care of Mr Gilson, I would be more than happy to arrange a meeting."