Devoted couple were able to spend final hours together in hospital after staff moved them next to each other

A devoted couple were able to spend their final hours together in hospital after kind staff moved them next to each other — so they could hold hands one more time.

Mary Bilton, 86, and husband Ron, 89, shared some precious moments as they celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary before both passing away within days of one another.

The couple fell in love and were married for nearly seven decades but in later life began to suffer from health complications.

Mrs Bilton was rushed to Hull Royal Infirmary in the final stages of cancer where her husband Ron was already being treated for multi-organ failure.

Staff found out from Mr Bilton’s granddaughter that his wife had also been admitted to the hospital’s Elderly Assessment Unit (EAU) nine floors below.

Realising Mr Bilton was nearing the end of his life, staff on Ward 90 organised for patients to be moved safely to other areas so Mrs Bilton could see her husband before he died.

She then spent time with her husband by his bedside, holding hands with the man she had shared her life with before he slipped away.

After Mr Bilton died, his loving spouse continued to be cared for by staff on the ward but she died just 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.”

The kind-hearted gesture occurred after Mr Bilton was admitted to Ward 90 first.

Within 24 hours, Mr Bilton’s condition had deteriorated so rapidly, staff knew he didn’t have long to live.

They contacted EAU to see if Mrs Bilton, 86, could be brought up to be with him but there was no bed free on the ward.

Rosie sought permission from hospital managers and, together with junior sister Ellis Howard, arranged a five-way bed swap to bring Mrs Bilton onto the same bay as her husband.

She was moved into a bed as close as possible to her husband without breaching national rules on mixed-sex wards.

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, North Lincs., have since been buried together after a joint funeral.


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