Lack of porters at hospital led to operation delay, inquest heard

  • February 7, 2019
  • Just one porter was available for eight operating theatres at Hereford County Hospital, an inquest heard.

    An inquest into the death of 88-year-old Mary Johnson heard that she was going to have an operation on July 23 last year but it could not go ahead due to porterage staffing issues.

    Following a review with Darren Clark, trauma and orthopaedic consultant at Wye Valley Trust, on Saturday, July 21, the operation was scheduled to take place on the Monday. Mr Clark said the operation did not take place on the Monday due to the lack of porters for theatre. Mrs Johnson was taken to the operating theatre the following day but as she was moved to the table she had a massive drop in blood pressure and the operation was abandoned. She was taken to the critical care unit and died the following day on July 25.

    Coroner Mark Bricknell expressed his shock and asked if anything was being done but Mr Clark said he was not aware if there was.
    Her daughter, Angela Barwell, said, “We just can’t believe it really. We can’t believe the operation didn’t go ahead because there weren’t enough porters.”

    Mr Clark apologised to the family as Mrs Johnson was starved prior to the operation on more than one occasion and he said this was due to confusion among ward staff. Mrs Johnson was also not given a blood thinning drug which she was due to have, as ward staff incorrectly believed she could not have it before surgery.

    A post mortem revealed she died from cardiorespiratory arrest and multi organ failure. An incident report had not been provided to the coroner because Mrs Johnson’s notes had been lost for two or three months.

    Mr Bricknell said to the family, “I think you can take a degree of comfort in the fact that, despite the complications we have been made aware of, it is unlikely to have affected the outcome of a operation.”

    A Wye Valley NHS Trust spokesman said, “to ensure the efficient transport of patients undergoing procedures, the Trust has a dedicated porter who works with our theatres teams. If further support is required, more porters can be called from across the hospital and are on hand within minutes.”

    Charlotte Measures, Senior Associate at Medical Accident Group said “It is unsettling to know that a shortage of porters at the Hospital delayed a patient’s procedure which ultimately led to the patient’s death. I would be interested to hear from you if you or a family member have suffered as a result of a delay in having a surgical procedure; furthermore I would like to hear from you if you and/or a family member have been affected by poor care and/or treatment at the Hospital.”

    As an experienced national firm, we have managed to successfully claim compensation for families, who have directly and indirectly suffered injury and loss due to the negligent actions of NHS Trusts all over the UK. If you have suffered from poor treatment, Medical Accident Group can help. We have a team of dedicated clinical negligence solicitors, with over 30 years’ experience, who will guide you through the process of making a claim. If you believe you have a claim, call the team now on 0800 050 1668 or email us at

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