Coroner 'concerned' about A&E overcrowding deaths

A&E sign
Image caption The death of Mohan Acharya has highlighted concerns about deaths at A&Es

A coroner has raised concerns about deaths in A&E after an 85-year-old died at an "overcrowded" hospital.

There were "several lapses and omissions" in the way Mohan Acharya was monitored at Northampton General Hospital, an inquest heard.

Hassan Shah said even though these did not contribute to his death, he would be writing to the government with a prevention of future deaths report.

The hospital trust said it accepted the coroner's conclusion.

Mr Archarya arrived at A&E at 16:07 GMT on 7 March 2018 and had to sit in the waiting room due to a lack of beds, did not have blood tests he should have and a blood transfusion was delayed, the inquest was told.

In the early hours of the following day, he died from pneumonia and acute renal failure after suffering two cardiac arrests.

In a narrative verdict, Mr Shah said: "The hospital was under extreme pressure. There were also a number of service failings.

"However, these factors didn't more than minimally contribute to the death, either singularly or in combination."

He said even if Mr Acharya had received constant attention from the moment he had arrived, doctors would not have had any reason to suspect he had pneumonia and to prescribe antibiotics that might have saved him.

However, Mr Shah raised concerns about overcrowding at A&Es nationally and said he would be writing a prevention of future deaths report to be sent to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Image caption An inquest heard a hospital investigation concluded there were several lapses in the way Mr Acharya was monitored

In the days after Mr Acharya's death, hospital medical director Matthew Metcalfe sent an email to staff and blamed "dangerous overcrowding" at the hospital for the death.

He later claimed it had been a "call to arms" to boost staff working under pressure and told the inquest in Northampton it had not been a "formal clinical opinion in relation to Mohan Acharya's demise".

He added: "It doesn't take a death for the trust to respond to the level of pressure on the organisation."

Mr Acharya's daughter, Natasha Barras, told the inquest staff were visibly upset by her father's death.

"One nurse broke down in tears and said 'we could have done more'," she added.

A statement from Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust apologised to Mr Acharya's family and said it "accepts the coroner's verdict", adding "patient safety continues to be a priority".

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