Hospital 'very sorry' after postmaster's death over Bank Holiday weekend

Barry Jefferson died after he was not seen by a senior doctor over the August Bank Holiday weekend last year.

Barry Jefferson died after he was not seen by a senior doctor over the August Bank Holiday weekend last year. - Credit: TEES LAW

West Suffolk Hospital has apologised after a postmaster died after not being seen by a senior doctor over a Bank Holiday weekend at the hospital. 

Suffolk Coroner's Court heard Barry Jefferson, 73, caught MRSA after being admitted to hospital with a fractured hip and died of a heart attack on September 2, 2020 after developing sepsis.

Mr Jefferson, who ran Post Office Stores in Thurston with his wife, went to hospital after falling at home and fracturing his right hip on August 17, 2020.

After a surgery three days later he appeared to be recovering well.  

But by August 27, just before the Bank Holiday, he had tested positive for MRSA and was unwell with nausea and vomiting.

According to documents from the Coroner's Court, Mr Jefferson was not seen by a senior doctor over the weekend and there was a delay in him being seen by a consultant on September 2 in part because of his MRSA infection.

On September 2 a junior doctor assessed him and called for the outreach team to assess him as he had become very unwell and collapsed.

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Despite attempts to resuscitate him Mr Jefferson died that evening.

Following his death a serious incident report was completed by West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, which identified a number of care and service delivery issues and pointed to several root causes.

A West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said: "Mr Jefferson came to us following a fall at home and while his initial treatment appeared successful we are very sorry that his subsequent care fell below the high level of monitoring and treatment that he should have received.

"We offer our sincere apologies and condolences to his family and friends.

"We have already reviewed and changed our procedures to ensure that our patient handovers are more comprehensive and inclusive. In addition, we have reviewed and improved our escalation processes, and will carefully consider any further recommendations from the coroner."

Craig Knightley, a solicitor from Tees Law acting for Mr Jefferson's widow Sarah, said: “The report highlighted a series of delays in recognising deterioration in Barry’s condition during that fateful bank holiday weekend and tardiness in seeking senior reviews and investigations.

“A more timely response earlier in the weekend might have led to a different outcome in this case.

"Establishing why things went so badly awry has not been helped by a repeated lack of documentation by the junior doctors who reviewed Barry, it being recorded during the inquest that the documentation fell far below what would have been expected from a junior doctor.

“Sarah Jefferson is grateful to the Coroner for the thorough investigation into Barry’s death.  Hopefully, following the hospital trust’s findings and the measures that have been implemented since Barry’s death, the incidence of failures to escalate the response to clearly deteriorating patients will have been greatly reduced.”

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