Advising with empathy and experience

Widow's plea following husband's A&E death.

A widow pleaded for people to "stay away from A&E unless it is life-threatening" after her husband died in a hospital corridor.

John Donnelly, 51, was admitted to Peterborough City Hospital on 2 March 2018 and died the next day.

Sharon Donnelly said staff were "overwhelmed" after the assistant coroner, Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp, ruled Mr Donnelly died of natural causes.

His inquest heard the hospital was on "black alert" and some staff were unable to get to work due to the snowy conditions.

Emergency medicine consultant, Dhakshinamoorthy Vijayasankar, said he was treating between 60 to 70 patients and "had to prioritise", the inquest was told.

Mrs Donnelly, from Peterborough, said she did not blame the NHS, as it was "overwhelmed and understaffed" that night.

She said: "My husband stood no chance in A&E that night. He was dumped in the corridor.

"If people that went there needlessly had stayed away, he may have stood a chance."

Mrs Donnelly paid tribute to her husband, who had looked after her through cancer, two separate mastectomies in three years and helped manage her type 1 diabetes.

She added "the only thing I can do positively for his memory is ask the public to stay away from A&E over Christmas - and forever - unless it's life-threatening.”

The inquest heard Mr Donnelly had an aortic dissection, which is a tear in the artery carrying blood away from the heart.

An X-ray had been ordered and was delayed, but Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp said it was not possible to say whether this made a difference to the outcome.

She added aortic dissection was difficult to diagnose and Mr Donnelly had no previous history of the condition.

Medical director for North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Peterborough City, Hinchingbrooke and Stamford and Rutland Hospitals, Dr Kanchan Rege, said: “Mr Donnelly’s death was investigated thoroughly by the Trust and the findings were presented at the inquest. After hearing evidence from a number of witnesses the coroner arrived at a conclusion of death due to natural causes.

“The beginning of March was a particularly busy period for our hospitals due to severe weather conditions and unprecedented demand. However, staff in the Emergency Department will always prioritise patients accordingly to ensure patients needing urgent treatment are seen quickly.

“We always encourage patients to seek treatment from the most appropriate care facility and use emergency departments only in the event of an emergency. If you require non-urgent care there are alternative services available, such as local minor injury units, your GP and pharmacies.

“The NHS 111 phone service is also available for those who are unsure about what service to use. Depending on the situation, they will be able to connect you to a nurse, an emergency dentist or a GP.”