Hereford & Worcester

Man dies after A&E arrival sparks need for 'disaster doctor'

John Flaherty Image copyright Other
Image caption John Flaherty died from a combination of factors, his family said

A man whose admittance to an under-pressure hospital led to a "disaster doctor" being brought in has died.

John Flaherty spent at least five hours on a trolley at Worcestershire Royal Hospital on 10 April after a fall.

Ambulance bosses said it brought in the doctor - usually on call for major disasters - in after delays in treating Mr Flaherty and two others.

Mr Flaherty, 55, who had two epileptic fits in hospital, died four days later. The hospital is investigating.

His daughter, 27-year-old Emma Flaherty, said she was shocked her father's condition in A&E led to the doctor being brought in.

'Stress and pain'

"It's heartbreaking, especially when there are doctors there anyway," she said.

"I understand hospitals get busy but they should be able to cope."

She said doctors have told her family his death was caused by a combination of factors - his epilepsy and respiratory problems due to his emphysema.

His oxygen machine was withdrawn four days after he was admitted.

Following his death, his sister, Terri Preece wrote a letter to the hospital criticising his care and asked officials to investigate what happened.

Image copyright Other
Image caption The medical incident officer cared for eight patients at Worcestershire Royal Hospital on 10 April

She said her brother, from Dines Green in Worcester, was "vulnerable" because of his health issues.

"Leaving him on a trolley with what we know now was a fractured hip caused him unbelievable stress and pain which we believe contributed to his deterioration," she said.

The trust has since written to Ms Flaherty confirming it is looking at his case.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said calling the doctor - known as a medical incident officer - in was "unprecedented" and a "decision not taken lightly".

The ambulance trust said it repeatedly asked A&E staff to triage the patients so that the most serious could be given pain relief but "this was refused on a number of occasions".

The doctor ultimately cared for eight patients.

The NHS Trust Development Authority has since said it would appoint an improvement director at the hospital.

In a statement, the trust said it was continuing to overcome some of the challenges it was facing and apologised to Mr Flaherty's family for their concerns around his death.

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