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‘Risk of future deaths’: coroner issues rare warning to health secretary over hospitals crisis

A coroner has urged the health secretary to take action to prevent needless deaths after a woman died of heart failure following a four-hour wait in the back of an ambulance.

Lyn Brind, 61, was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, with chest pains and low blood oxygen levels but could not be admitted because the hospital had “no space”. Instead she remained in a queue of ambulances outside A&E without a timely diagnosis or treatment and where warning signs about her condition were missed.

It was only after four hours and 25 minutes of waiting that she was transferred to a ward, by which time she was “agitated and short of breath”. She was placed on life support but died 22 minutes later.

Brind’s family believe the grandmother of four, a former dinner lady from the town, “might still be alive today” had she been admitted more swiftly. “She wasn’t given a chance,” her partner of 38 years, Richard Bunton, said.

After an inquest earlier this month into Brind’s death in May 2022, the senior coroner for Norfolk, Jacqueline Lake, took the unusual step of writing to England’s health secretary, Steve Barclay, to raise concerns about the NHS and social care.

She warned that others could die in similar circumstances unless action was taken. “I believe you have the power to take such action,” Lake wrote in a prevention of future deaths report.

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Source: The Guardian, 29 January 2023


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