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Mellis: Coroner says neglect by hospital contributed to Alan Handyside’s death

10:00 19 December 2012

An inquest has taken place into the death of Alan Handyside from Mellis, near Diss. This picture is him on holiday a couple of years ago.

An inquest has taken place into the death of Alan Handyside from Mellis, near Diss. This picture is him on holiday a couple of years ago.

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Coroner says neglect by hospital contributed to grandfather’s death

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THE PARTNER of a man who died following a hospital’s “gross failure” last night said “hopefully nobody else will die for the same reasons”.

At yesterday’s inquest into the death of Alan Handyside, 69, from Mellis, near Diss, Coroner Dr Peter Dean said “there was a gross failure to provide the appropriate care or management that Mr Handyside’s condition required at the time”.

Mr Handyside, who was a semi-retired social marketing consultant, was brought to West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, by ambulance on April 24 last year after suffering a fall while walking his dog.

The inquest heard how according to both National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and West Suffolk Hospital guidance at the time someone in his position - at his age, with a head injury and amnesia and on anti-coagulative treatment - should have had a CT scan. But he was not given the scan.

Mr Handyside, a father and grandfather, was discharged from the hospital and died two days after the fall after being readmitted following a headache and vomiting.

Dr Saqib Siddiq Khawaja, who saw him when he was first went to hospital, decided he needed to be kept in for neurological observations, but did not request a scan.

And Andrew Dunn, a trauma and orthopaedic consultant, said he would have requested a scan but he was given an inaccurate result.

Dr Dean recorded a verdict that Mr Handyside died from complications to which neglect contributed following an accidental fall.

Following Mr Handyside’s death the hospital has reviewed its head injury guidance and the induction given to junior doctors working in A&E.

After the inquest, Mr Handyside’s partner Angela Lee said: “I’m pleased it is recording mistakes were made. I think it’s right, obviously, and we do feel as a family whatever errors were made were corrected so some small good may come out of our personal tragedy.

“He died for the wrong reasons, but also if they noted that hopefully nobody else will die for the same reasons. That would be good.”

Trefine Maynard, the lawyer representing the family, said it seemed Mr Handyside’s case had been a “wake-up call” for the hospital, but she was not convinced they had learned all the lessons.

Mrs Lee said treatment she had had at West Suffolk Hospital had been “brilliant” so “when all this came out it made it worse really. So much worse.

“These are little mistakes, but they led to something terrible like somebody dying when they shouldn’t have to. It’s not a bad hospital.

“I would hate that to be the message. It’s a good hospital with flaws.”

She described her partner as highly intelligent, involved with everything he did and who loved his work.

“He really didn’t want to retire, but, as I say, he got to the stage where he more or less had to. He loved cooking. He loved digging his vegetable patch. He was a passionate man. He was a very passionate man. What he did he got stuck into.”

During the inquest, Dr Dean said: “On this occasion sadly there was a failure of care which I think was causally connected to this tragic outcome.”

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