“Don’t ferry patients between hospitals”

conquest hospital ENGSUS00120121017104025
conquest hospital ENGSUS00120121017104025

The family of a man who died at the DGH raised concerns about patients being transported between Eastbourne and Hastings hospitals.

Roland Raine Mitchell, 83, of Jellicoe Close, died on August 15 2014 at the DGH, after a colonic stent procedure. An inquest into his death was held at Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday by coroner Alan Craze. Mr Mitchell’s family said after it was clear things had gone wrong, he was transported to the Conquest in ‘agony’ and then back to the DGH where he died weeks later.

“I do not think people should be made to travel between the hospitals,” said his wife Irene Shirley. “Why should people travel in agony, then to be sent back.”

Mr Aldridge, a consultant surgeon between the two hospitals, said he understood the family’s concern and said ‘I am a victim of the changes that were made’. He also said he asked for Mr Mitchell to be sent to the Conquest ‘with the best intentions’. Mr Mitchell had undergone a colonic stent on July 29, after doctors were concerned about a blockage near a tumour.

Mr Aldridge said Mr Mitchell was not suitable for surgery, because of his age and medical history. At the inquest, Mr Mitchell’s family said they were unhappy they were not consulted on the decision. Dr Anderson, a radiologist at the Eastbourne DGH who performed the stent, said the operation appeared to go well. But the following day Mr Mitchell became unwell, and a post mortem examination showed a ‘tear’ in the area close to the two stents.

“We decided he should be referred to surgical care to look at what options were available,” said Mr Aldridge, who was working at the Conquest hospital at the time.

Mr Mitchell was taken to Conquest to be seen by the consultant, but because of the ‘tear’ Mr Anderson said the chance of Mr Mitchell dying in an operation were 70 to 80 per cent. It was decided he would go back to the DGH for palliative care, and he died weeks later. The coroner, Alan Craze, said Mr Mitchell died of ‘a known but rare complication of colonic stenting’.

In total 250 colonic stents were performed at the DGH in ten years. This was the second time it had resulted in death due to a tear, a figure below the national average of a one to four per cent mortality.