Man died after stroke symptoms 'missed'

THE family of an Essex man who died after medics failed to spot his stroke symptoms three times have won an out-of-court settlement.

Elliot Furniss

THE family of an Essex man who died after medics failed to spot his stroke symptoms three times have won an out-of-court settlement.

Jeffrey Wingrove, 48, died in hospital in December 2006 and his family launched a legal challenge, claiming that a paramedic and an out of hours GP repeatedly failed to recognise his symptoms.

Mr Wingrove's widow Isabelle and their son, who live in Braintree, have now secured a six-figure sum in an out-of-court settlement following an allegation of clinical negligence against the GP concerned and the East of England Ambulance Service NHS trust.

The legal case for Mrs Wingrove and her son was managed by David Kerry of Harlow-based lawyers Attwater and Liell.

Mr Kerry said when Mr Wingrove fell ill he had shown all the signs of stroke and his wife had sought help from the family GP.

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She was transferred to an out of hours service and after describing the symptoms to a doctor she was told to take him to hospital.

When Mrs Wingrove said her husband was in bed and incapable of moving the doctor told her it was not the out of hours policy to make home visits to such patients.

Mrs Wingrove was unhappy and distressed with the lack of response so she called the service again and a nurse told her she should insist that the doctor make a home visit.

Once again the doctor refused to visit Mr Wingrove and instead faxed a prescription to a nearby chemist, said Mr Kerry. There was still no improvement in Mr Wingrove's condition by the evening and at that point his wife dialled 999.

When the ambulance arrived the paramedic told Mrs Wingrove that her husband didn't need to go to hospital and instead prescribed him paracetomol.

The next day Mr Wingrove's condition had worsened and an ambulance was called again.

He was taken to Broomfield Hospital and a scan showed that he had an infarct in the left side of his brain, meaning that part of his brain had been severely damaged and he had suffered a stroke.

He was transferred to the neurosurgical department at Queen's Hospital in Romford where he died the next day.

“This is a terrible case,” Mr Kerry said. “Three times Mrs Wingrove appealed to the NHS to attend her husband, yet tragically they let her down.

“We can only imagine the trauma suffered by Mrs Wingrove, knowing her husband was probably gravely ill yet unable to get anyone to take her seriously.”

He claimed the incident had shown an “outrageous travesty of professional care” and that the family now intend to make a complaint to the General Medical Council about the GP.

A spokeswoman for the East of England Ambulance Services NHS Trust said: “We have co-operated fully with the investigation and do not feel that it is appropriate to comment at this time.”

A spokesman for Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust, which provides out of hours GP services through third party firm Primecare, said he could not comment on the specifics of what was a “terrible tragedy” as the matter was still subject to possible future actions.

He said: “However, it is important to stress that the PCT has robust contract arrangements in place to ensure all our services provide safe and effective care.

“Such contracts, for example with out of hours service providers, include the need to take whatever action might be necessary to deal with and avoid untoward incidents.”

A spokeswoman for Primecare, which contracted the GP, said: “Unfortunately we can't comment on this case at this time. Our condolences remain with the Wingrove family for their sad loss.”