October 30, 2021 7.51 am This story is over 24 months old

‘Frustrating’ reply over son’s death in four hour Lincoln A&E queue

EMAS told her correct advanced life support process was followed

A distraught mother said she is not satisfied with the reply from the ambulance service over her 27-year-old son’s death, and wants to take further action against the hospital.

Norman Barker, also known by many friends as James Salvator, experienced chest pains on September 27 this year and was told there would be a two-hour wait for an ambulance, and four hours before he could be seen at Lincoln’s A&E. He went outside for a walk with his mum before collapsing outside the hospital, and sadly he later died.

East Midlands Ambulance Service spoke with his family to fully investigate what happened, but his mum Sue Atkin still wants more answers.

An investigation into the service provided to Norman/James was carried out by EMAS’ Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), which found that the correct advanced life support (ALS) process was followed.

EMAS are also be supporting a system wide Serious Incident investigation, which is being led by the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, by providing all the relevant information around their involvement with the patient’s care.

Sue is still awaiting the official cause of death certificate, but said she has been told there was a problem relating to her son’s arteries.

She told The Lincolnite that she is planning to get a solicitor involved as she is still unhappy, especially with A&E at Lincoln County Hospital.

He was initially classed as ‘Category 2’, ‘a serious condition such as a stroke or chest pain, which may require rapid assessments’ – an average response time target set at 18 minutes.

Sue said: “The category they initially put him in upsets me. The way it came across to me was that you have to wait to collapse and die before you are category one and an ambulance will come to you.

“I am still frustrated by how long an ambulance took to get to him, and especially with A&E. I will be pursuing it further.”

Peter Bainbridge, Head of Quality at EMAS, sent a letter to Sue saying he would “first like to begin by passing on my sincere condolences to you and your family for your loss” before detailing the outcome of the service’s investigation.

Norman with his mum Sue.

Investigation by EMAS

The letter then detailed the following timeline of events:

  • The first 999 call made on behalf of the patient was received by EMAS’ Emergency Operations Centre at 8.18pm on September 27. During the call it was explained that Norman was experiencing chest pain and breathing difficulties
  • As with all 999 calls it was triaged using the Advanced Medical Priority Dispatch System. From the information provided during the call it was coded as requiring a ‘Category 2’ response, which reflects a potentially serious condition that may require rapid assessment, urgent on-scene clinical intervention and treatment and/or urgent transport and include probable heart attacks, strokes, and major burns. EMAS aim to respond to these calls within an average time of 18 minutes
  • Due to the high demand for ambulances, which the Trust was experiencing at the time of the call, it was explained that the wait for an ambulance could be up to two hours
  • A second 999 call was received at 8.27pm during which it was explained that Norman would be transported to hospital by family
  •  After taken Norman to hospital, his family were told by a receptionist that there would be a four-hour wait to be seen. Sue took Norman outside to get some fresh air and a drink of water, at which point he collapsed
  • A third 999 call was received at 9.25pm and, from the information provided, it was coded as requiring a ‘Category 1’ response, which EMAS aim to respond within an average time of seven minutes, and at least nine out of 10 times within 15 minutes
  • While the third call was in progress a double crewed ambulance came across the incident and were noted to be on scene with Norman at 9.27pm. Further resources were allocated to the emergency and a Paramedic in a Fast Response Vehicle arrived at 9.32pm, followed by a Clinical Operations Manager four minutes later

Regarding the investigation, the letter states: “As part of the investigation process a review of the electronic Patient Report Form (ePRF) completed by the ambulance staff at the time of the incident, has been undertaken.

“I would like to reassure you that the review has identified that the correct advanced life support (ALS) process was followed by the attending staff and that everything possible was done to save Norman; I am so very sorry that he sadly passed away.

“I would like to advise that East Midlands Ambulance Service will be supporting a system wide Serious Incident (SI) investigation which is being led by the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust. To support this we will provide all the relevant information around our involvement with Norman’s care.

“I would like to reiterate my sincere condolences to you and your family at this sad time. Please contact us again if we can be of any further assistance.”

The hospital trust said they had nothing further to add to their previous statement, which read: “We are unable to comment on individual cases, but would like to offer our condolences to the friends and family of Mr Barker.

“Like most areas of the NHS, we have seen extreme demands on our urgent care services in recent weeks, as well as delays in discharging patients into care outside of our hospitals.”

Family and friends are fundraising for the funeral of Norman Barker/James Salvator.

Funeral and fundraising

Norman’s/Jame’s mum said the funeral will take place at Lincoln Crematorium at 11.10am on November 5.

Sue said she still needs to raise another £1,000, but has been given until the end of November to pay this – donations can be made here and here.

The money raised so far has been from a variety of events, including family friend Ashley Hill who hosted a live stream show. Norman’s/Jame’s mum Sue dyed her hair with pride colours, did a sponsored walk and held a tabletop sale to try raise more funds.