Isle of Wight hospital clerk 'rigged' waiting times
A hospital clerk cancelled patient appointments to improve waiting time statistics, an inquest has heard.
Holly Pritchett, 26, changed internal endoscope examinations for 17 patients at St Mary's Hospital, Isle of Wight, in 2015 and 2016.
John Fisher, who died from an alcohol-related condition, had four appointments cancelled.
Island coroner Caroline Sumeray said: "The rigged appointments... didn't lead to his death but they could have done."
Ms Sumeray said a "massive investigation" into more than 3,000 patients was still ongoing.
Three suffered "extended symptoms" because of treatment delays, the hearing was told.
She said two patients had died so far but the cause was not known to be from endoscopy delays.
'Restarting the clock'
Mr Fisher, 64, died at his sheltered flat at Gordon Lodge, East Cowes, in April 2016.
His internal bleeding was never investigated because his endoscopy appointment was cancelled four times, the hearing was told.
Ms Pritchett said on two occasions she falsely recorded that Mr Fisher had requested the cancellations himself.
The inquest heard it was a way of "restarting the clock" to avoid breaching waiting time targets for treatment.
She said: "I was told repeatedly if I breached any one I would lose my job."
Ms Pritchett's line manager, Rachel Westerman, 48, denied telling her that breaches would not be "tolerated".
'Not a monster'
The coroner recorded that Mr Fisher died from an alcohol-related condition.
She told Ms Pritchett: "The rigged appointments... didn't lead to his death but they could have done. For that, you are very fortunate."
Ms Sumeray said the clerk probably felt under pressure over the targets because of her "immaturity and lack of worldliness".
Fighting back tears, Ms Pritchett said: "I am not the monster I've been made out to be".
She was suspended from her job in May 2016 and later dismissed.
In a statement, Isle of Wight NHS Trust said it had since strengthened its appointment booking and monitoring systems.