The family of a Burnley mum of 11, who died after an accident on her disability scooter, has spoken of their anger with the “lack of care” she received in hospital.
And their concerns have been backed by a coroner after it was revealed no doctor was available to see her on the night she died.
Burnley great-grandmother Mrs Dorothy Kenny had been taken to the Royal Preston Hospital after her disability scooter was involved in a road crash but, despite medical staff informing her family she would soon be able to return home, the 71-year-old died after suffering a heart arrhythmia.
An inquest held at Burnley Town Hall heard East Lancashire Coroner Mr Richard Taylor express his concern that no doctor was available to see Mrs Kenny on the night she died, February 25th last year.
Mrs Kenny had been crossing the road to her home in Gainsborough Avenue on February 21st when her scooter was hit by a Fiat Panda travelling down Manchester Road.
Police accident investigator PC Richard Roberts found the driver was not at fault and estimated the speed at impact was 23mph to 30mph.
Mrs Kenny was taken to the Royal Preston Hospital with a broken leg and broken ribs but refused surgery. Her leg was then put in plaster.
Nurse Hayley Talbot told the inquest several of Mrs Kenny’s observation readings were below the level expected, but she had refused oxygen.
Solicitor Mr Chris Alderson, representing Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said a mental health assessment had found Mrs Kenny was of sound mind and so administering treatment against her wishes would constitute assault.
Night nurse practitioner Sharon Mellis told the hearing she became concerned at Mrs Kenny’s low oxygen levels on the night of February 25th and bleeped the night shift junior registrar, Dr Andrew Jeans, for assistance.
However, Dr Jeans, who was attending patients in the emergency department at the time, was unable to see Mrs Kenny in Ward 14 immediately.
He told the inquest he had to make a judgement call when prioritising patients. By the time he reached Ward 14, Mrs Kenny had suffered her fatal heart arrhythmia.
Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Mr George McLauchlan said: “These circumstances were exceptional. Lots of people wanted to do the right thing but couldn’t.
“I don’t think any other avenues could have been followed.”
Mrs Kenny’s family said the hospital had failed in its duty of care towards her.
They said they were also unhappy Nurse Talbot had discovered Mrs Kenny unresponsive at 1-20am, despite the presence of a healthcare assistant at her bedside since 1am.
Coroner Mr Taylor, who recorded a narrative conclusion, said: “The loss of a wife, mother and grandmother is one of life’s cruelties and is often very hard to accept.
“Mrs Kenny suffered from ischemic heart disease and osteo-arthritis but was a determined and independent lady.
“She was expected to recover from her accident and was due home. However, her condition deteriorated. She would not accept oxygen.
“I agree with the family in that I find it concerning no doctor could attend to her after 11pm. I think they would have been reassured.
“Dorothy Kenny’s death was more likely than not to have been a natural cause while she was bed-bound following a road traffic collision.”