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Patient death linked to lack of beds at London trust

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A patient died after being refused a transfer to a major London teaching trust due to lack of beds, it has been revealed.

Michael Brennan died in October last year after being refused an emergency transfer to Westmorland Hospital due to a lack of beds at the site.

“It is possible that future deaths could occur in similar circumstances”

Richard Brittain

The 80 year old’s death has prompted a coroner to warn University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to ensure its clinical staff are aware of the bed status at each of its hospital sites when making a referral.

Mr Brennan, who died on 24 October 2016, was refused an emergency transfer from the Whittington Hospital NHS Trust, according to Health Service Journal.

A preventing future deaths report, published on 27 March, said that Mr Brennan was initally being treated for suspected lung cancer at the Whittington Hospital but was later referred to University College London Hospitals for an interventional bronchosocopy. 

“The doctor to whom Mr Brennan had been referred at UCLH advised that, should the patient deteriorate overnight, he should be referred to cardiothoracic at the Westmoreland Street hospital (a satellite hospital of UCLH),” said the report.

“That evening the team caring for Mr Brennan at Whittington Hospital did refer Mr Brennan, as advised, with concerns regarding his condition. Unfortunately, no beds were available at the Westmoreland Street hospital.” the document said. 

Whittington Hospital NHS Trust

Whittington staff praised for compassionate care

Source: Tony Peacock

Whittington Hospital in Archway

Richard Brittain, assistant coroner for north London, raised concerns that the plan for Mr Brennan’s care relied on the availability of beds at UCLH.

He warned: “It is possible that future deaths could occur in similar circumstances if there is not a system in place to inform clinicians of the current bed status for the trust’s multiple sites.”

A spokeswoman from UCLH said: “We offer our sincere condolences to Mr Brennan’s family and loved ones.

“Since responding to the coroner’s findings we have investigated this case further,” she said. “Our investigation has found we did have beds available at the time.

“We believe the comment that there were no beds available refers to another hospital trust which the Whittington contacted, and not UCLH’s hospital at Westmoreland Street,” she said.

She added: “We will be reporting our findings to the coroner.”

The news comes following reports earlier this year of patients dying due to a lack of critical care beds and poor referral processes between hospitals. 

In one case a patient died after being refused emergency transfer by four different hospitals due to the lack of available beds.




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