Duncan Smith's inquiry call over Spire Roding Hospital

Image caption,
Mr Duncan Smith accused authorities of playing 'pass the parcel'

A Cabinet minister has called for an investigation after the death of a patient at a private hospital in east London.

Charlie Leahy, who was being treated for terminal bowel cancer, died of a heart attack at the Spire Roding Hospital in Redbridge in 2009.

Now a former nurse there has raised questions over his care - leading Iain Duncan Smith to call for an inquiry.

Spire Healthcare says it always acted in the best interests of patients.

Mr Leahy's family said they had expected him to return from the hospital after a brief stay and that he "didn't go there to die".

The hospital admits that, following the heart attack, there was a delay of up to 15 seconds while pads were found for a defibrillator machine.

And having viewed the medical report, an expert thinks more drugs should have been administered.

Simon Small, a paramedic who provides advanced life support training, said: "I wouldn't have considered this a satisfactory resuscitation attempt in a hospital.

"I would have expected more cardiac drugs to have been given through the time stated here."

Mr Leahy received just one dose of adrenaline during the resuscitation - Resuscitation Council guidelines say he should have had at least five.

The hospital insists there were no other problems, saying concerns would have been picked up by senior hospital staff.

But BBC London has learned Mr Leahy was being given extra potassium at the time - even though his blood tests showed he had normal levels.

Image caption,
The hospital's website says it provides the highest quality of care

Excess potassium can cause a heart attack.

On his death certificate, the hospital entered his cause of death as "recurrent carcinoma of colon". There was no mention of his heart attack.

The coroner decided not to hold an inquiry, something Mr Leahy's family are now calling for.

Former nurse Julie Moody worked at the hospital for a decade before quitting.

She says the death was a key factor in her resignation and prior to the death she had raised concerns about staff resuscitation training.

Ms Moody said: "I had a huge issue with the fact that there were training issues that were putting patients at risk, that were covered up, never rectified through 2008 and 2009.

"My issue was never fully addressed."

No action

The hospital says her concerns were dealt with and staff were retrained.

But, in November 2009 health watchdog the Care Quality Commission found a weakness in compulsory training there.

In the majority of such courses less than half of staff had been trained.

Both the Metropolitan Police and the Nursing and Midwifery Council said they would take no further action with regard to Ms Moody's complaint.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mr Duncan Smith, the local Conservative MP, said: "Everybody seems to want to say, 'it is nothing to do with me'.

"The Care Quality Commission, the coroner, the police, the health department, the justice department - each of them seems to be playing pass the parcel.

'Disgruntled employee'

"I think it is important now for someone to say, 'the buck stops here and we'll have a proper inquiry into this'."

The Leahy family were not told of any concerns until BBC London informed them of the nurse's complaints.

Daughter Andrea Leahy said: "It was a double shock. It's like we are reliving Dad's death."

Spire Healthcare, which owns the hospital, said it always acted immediately if it suspected high standards had not been met.

It added that the hospital was assisting the Care Quality Commission with a review.

The Spire group describes Ms Moody as a disgruntled former employee who has betrayed patient confidentiality.

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