Advising with empathy and experience

Widow's three year battle for justice.

A Hospital Trust and Ambulance Trust who admitted providing substandard care to a critically injured patient have finally apologised to his widow more than three years after his death. Mrs Patricia Fenn accepted the written apologies together with a sum by way of compensation and legal costs to conclude the claim that was commenced after her husband’s death. The South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust apologised in letter of 22nd February 2013 for failing to carry out adequate surveys of the injured patient; failing to correctly immobilise him; delaying in the provision of oxygen and for not effecting a quicker handover to hospital staff on arrival at hospital. East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust apologised and made a number of admissions in relation to the treatment that Mrs Fenn’s late husband received after his transfer to hospital. They admitted that there was a failure to arrange assessment of his head injury; delay in arranging for his admission to resuscitation; delay in medical assessment; delay in arranging the CT scan and a failure to arrange for assessment, examination or testing for more than an hour and a half after his arrival at hospital.

Medical evidence indicated that the late Mr Fenn’s injuries were so severe that his life could not have been saved even if more timely and appropriate treatment had been given. Nevertheless it is the view of his widow that the failings on the part of the Ambulance and Hospital Trust were serious and should be highlighted.

Speaking after the conclusion to the claim Mrs Fenn said “no one seemed to take my husband’s injuries seriously. I was not told that I should accompany him to the hospital in the ambulance. I rang the hospital repeatedly after he was admitted but was told that the doctor was with him. I know now that my husband was alone and unsupported in his first few hours at the hospital. By the time I was alerted as to the serious nature of his condition he was deeply unconscious. He never regained consciousness and neither I nor my daughter had a chance to say good bye to him”.

Mrs Fenn is critical of the Defendant Trusts for their response to her after the incident and for the way in which the claim was handled. She said “I had to go through an inquest, attend disciplinary proceedings for the paramedic and then begin a civil action in order to secure the apologies and explanations that I wanted. Even when the Trusts admitted their failings at an earlier stage in the proceedings they did not offer an apology. I feel strongly that my husband deserved to be treated with dignity and compassion but he was deprived of this. I hope that by bringing this claim and seeking these apologies I can highlight the communication problems that occur in the NHS. Had the Defendants discussed matters with me, offered explanations and apologies at an earlier stage then I would not have pursued this claim as far as I have”.