A fit and healthy 27-year-old man who went to A&E with chest pains and was told he would have a four-hour wait to be seen, sadly collapsed and died outside Lincoln County Hospital last week.
Norman Barker was born in Lincoln and a few years ago changed his first name to James by deed poll. He was known by many as James Salvator and his mother Sue Atkin described her son as “the kindest, caring person there is who would stop at nothing to help others”.
On Monday, September 27, Norman had pains in his chest and felt very clammy. His nan phoned 999 at around 7.30pm and explained the problem, only to be told that there was a “two hour wait for an ambulance”.
His mum went to collect her son to take him to hospital within the hour, but it took three people to help him get ready because he couldn’t stand up very well due to feeling unwell.
After checking in at A&E reception at Lincoln County Hospital, Sue told a receptionist about her son’s chest pains and was told about the four-hour wait and to take a seat. However, she said this wasn’t possible as there were no free seats and Norman decided to go for a walk and head with his mother to her house.
Norman grabbed his mum’s arm just outside the hospital and asked for help as he collapsed. Norman’s brother Jimmy, who Sue described as “everyone’s rock”, helped to put Norman in the recovery position before a nurse who had just come off duty stopped to help and gave him CPR.
She pulled an ambulance over that was on the way to another job. Norman’s mum said “a lovely paramedic” called for another ambulance and waited with him and and treated him until he was taken into the resuscitation part of A&E with his family.
Sue contacted The Lincolnite saying that, although the medical staff who were amazing, she believes Norman should have been seen at A&E sooner.
Sue said: “The resus team were amazing and tried everything to get my son’s heart beating again. My son was in my arms.
“The doctor who was dealing with my son came to me and was explaining everything that they tried to do and they were still working on him.
“I went to see my son and saw this machine they had attached to do heart compressions. I knew my son had gone and asked them to stop.
“He was healthy, this is what we don’t understand. He had a heart murmur when he was born that was checked at the time and he was discharged and he’s had no problems since.
“I can’t fault the staff that helped, and the nurse who stopped with us was amazing and did everything she could.
“But I feel he should’ve been seen at A&E sooner. Someone of his age and so healthy complaining of chest pains and being clammy, he should’ve been seen straight away.”
She added: “I didn’t realise how popular he was until now. I’ve had lots of messages of support. He was always happy and smiling.
“I couldn’t go without a day seeing my son. We have always been close, like he was with his brothers and he always spoiled me, bless him.
“Norman was gay, which I was very proud of him for, and he helped at Lincoln Pride and other events including recently at The Plough pub.
“He loved being there for everyone, as this made him happy. He was always smiling and there was never a dull moment with Norman, if you were sad he would make sure that he cheered you up.”
Norman was one of four brothers with Freddie, Shaun and Jimmy, and also had a little nephew called Cain who he adored. He also leaves his nan, mum, step dad and his best friend Jade.
His mother Sue is planning to dye her hair with pride colours and hold a table top sale in order to raise more money towards her son’s funeral.
She said one of her son’s close friends Ashley Hill has been “amazing and a great support to the family”, helping her set up fundraisers.
A hospital spokesperson said: “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.”
Sue Cousland, Divisional Director for the Lincolnshire Division of the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS), said: “We offer our deepest condolences to Norman’s family and friends during this really difficult time.
“We are speaking with Norman’s family directly so we can fully investigate what happened.”