Cancer patient dies after being denied transfer because of bed shortage | Society

A cancer patient died after he was denied an urgently needed transfer to another hospital because no bed was available, a coroner has said.

Michael Brennan was diagnosed with lung cancer at Whittington hospital, north London, and given a plan to be treated at another hospital if his condition deteriorated overnight.

But when the 80-year-old needed emergency surgery, Westmoreland Street hospital in central London was unable to find him a bed and he died on 24 October last year, a coroner’s report found.

The assistant coroner for Inner London North, Dr Richard Brittain, said that he feared there would be more deaths if the situation was not remedied.

The report was sent to the University College London hospitals NHS trust, which apologised to Brennan’s family in an initial statement.

However, UCLH later issued a statement saying an internal investigation had found there were beds available at its Westmoreland Street hospital and suggested another hospital trust was involved.

Brittain wrote: “In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken.

“I am concerned that this back-up plan relied on the availability of a bed at a satellite hospital, which was ultimately not available when it was required. This raises the concern that the bed status for the Westmoreland Street hospital was not known to the clinicians when this plan was devised.

“It is possible that future deaths could occur in similar circumstances if there is not a system in place to inform clinicians of the current bed status for the trust’s multiple sites.”

According to the coroner’s report, Brennan, a smoker who had been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, underwent a bronchoscopy to investigate why he had been coughing up blood since early 2016.

Doctors at Whittington hospital discovered the lung cancer and tried to stem the bleeding from the lesion but referred him to UCLH amid concerns over his condition.

A clinician at UCLH…

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