‘He could’ve been saved’

BASSETLAW Hospital chiefs say ‘serious lessons’ have been learnt following the tragic death of former Worksop Guardian editor George Robinson.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 10th October 2012, 8:20 am

Mr Robinson, 57, of Walesby, passed away on Boxing Day last year - just hours after he was admitted to the Worksop hospital complaining of stomach pains.

But the 57-year-old could have survived if he had been given treatment quicker by hospital staff, Nottingham Coroners’ Court heard last week.

While editor of the Guardian, Mr Robinson had led a major campaign to save Bassetlaw Hospital’s A&E - winning a Newspaper Society award in 2003.

Mr Sewa Singh, medical director of Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said their ‘deepest thoughts’ are with Mr Robinson’s family.

“On behalf of the whole Trust, I sincerely apologise for the fact that we could not save his life.,” he said.

“In emergencies like this, health professionals have to make what can be very difficult clinical decisions in circumstances where a patient’s condition may change extremely rapidly and our staff tried as hard as they could to provide the very best care to Mr Robinson.”

“However, that cannot possibly be any comfort to Mr Robinson’s family and it is also very clear that there are serious lessons to learn from this tragedy. “

The inquest heard how attempts to transfer him to another, bigger hospital, and receive the necessary treatment in the hours before his death had failed.

He had been admitted to Bassetlaw Hospital shortly before 2pm on Christmas Day and underwent a CT scan hours later, where an unexplained ‘mass’ was spotted between his kidney and spleen.

At about 9pm his condition deteriorated and he had an emergency operation where it was found he was bleeding internally.

His condition improved and staff were able to stabilise him, but shortly after midnight he took a turn for the worst and died a short time later. The pathologist recorded his death as being caused by a retroperitoneal haemorrhage.

However, it was revealed that the on-call surgeon at Bassetlaw Hospital had attempted to transfer Mr Robinson to Doncaster Royal Infirmary after the results of his CT scan were revealed.

He had been advised that the patient should be put into the care of a radiologist, who could perform an embolisation- a procedure which confirms the site of the bleeding and how to treat it.

But it was found that the on-call radiologist at Doncaster was not trained for the procedure, and was advised to transfer him to Sheffield’s Northern General.

Speaking at the inquest, Bassetlaw’s on-call surgeon, Mr Jasim Muen, then claimed the Northern General had refused to take the patient until he had undergone embolisation.

But after Northern General consultant John Bottomley had studied the CT results, it was agreed that Mr Robinson should be transferred, by which time his condition had deteriorated and was not well enough to be moved.

Further still, there were conflicting testimonies from Mr Muen and Mr Bottomley about when the patient should have been transferred after the patient had been stabilised and before he began to deteriorate again.

Speaking on behalf of John Bottomley, who has since emigrated to New Zealand, Sheffield’s Professor Peter Gaines was asked by the coroner if he thought Mr Robinson’s chances of survival would have improved had he been transferred quicker.

He replied: “If you look at the work we do at Sheffield, and in my experience, if embolisation is successful the patients tend to survive.

“On the balance of probability, if George had come to Sheffield promptly he could have survived.

“I would have expected that if the patient had been with us within a few hours [of being admitted to hospital] then he could have survived.”

Recording a narrative verdict, deputy coroner for Nottinghamshire Heidi Connor said questions needed to be answered over the services provided between Doncaster and Bassetlaw NHS Trust and Sheffield NHS Trust, and that she would write to both, but said an inquest was not the place to apportion blame.

She said: “There was no clear agreement in place to deal with this scenario.

“The window of opportunity to give the best chance of survival was after the CT scan. It may have been too late after then.

“It’s clear to me that had there been a protocol for transferring patients, it could have made a difference in George’s case.”

Mr Singh said they have worked ‘closely’ with comissioners and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals to agree a clear clinical protocol for cases like this as a matter of urgency to ensure a similar situation cannot occur in future.

“We have also clarified our internal procedures for transferring patients from Bassetlaw. The coroner indicated she would be writing to us and we will naturally pay great heed to her comments and respond accordingly,” he said.

“Once again, I apologise unreservedly to Mr Robinson’s family and would like to offer them the opportunity to meet with us so we can say sorry to them in person.”