Damages awarded after avoidable death of Swindon mum-of-three

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A call centre

The family of a woman, who died after NHS 111 failed to correctly assess her symptoms and provide emergency treatment, have recovered damages following a successful claim against Practice Plus (formerly Care UK (Urgent Care) Ltd).

Beverley Wildeboer of Braydon Manor, near Swindon, died after an NHS 111 health advisor and clinical advisor failed to diagnose the seriousness of the pain she was experiencing across her chest and shoulders. If Beverley’s medical history had been correctly understood, an ambulance would have been sent to take her to hospital. Unfortunately, by the time an ambulance was called by her husband it was too late, and she suffered a fatal heart attack.

Beverley, who had been diagnosed with a condition called ‘neuromyelitis optica’ (“NMO”) in 2016, was wheelchair-bound due to weakness and pain in her lower legs and abdomen. In 2005, she had been fitted with a stent following a heart attack and had other complicating medical factors that should have been a cause for clinical concern.

On 28th April 2017, the day before the May Day Bank Holiday weekend, Beverley first felt a tight pain across her shoulders. The pain continued over the weekend, and by 30th April it had spread into her chest. Her husband Julio was concerned and called her GP but was told that, as it was a Bank Holiday, he should call NHS 111.

Julio spoke to the health advisor at NHS 111 and was transferred to a clinical advisor who asked him to go through Beverley’s symptoms again. He was given the option of having Beverley seen in hospital, or a call from the family GP who would know more about her NMO. He was advised that the nearest hospital was Chippenham and told to wait for a call from the out of hours GP who would be better able to make the decision about what should happen next for Beverley.

After several calls back and forth while confusion over Beverley’s medical records was resolved and the correct hospital to take her to was identified, it was decided that Julio would take his wife to Chippenham Community Hospital for diagnosis and treatment, despite the fact she felt too ill to travel,.

By this time over an hour and a half had passed, and as Julio readied Beverley to leave the house she collapsed. Julio called for an ambulance but, sadly, the paramedics were unable to revive his wife.

Julio approached Paul Sankey of Enable Law to investigate the standard of treatment that Beverley had received. Paul was able to identify several areas of concern in the way that the call handlers and out-of-hours GP had dealt with the situation:

  • The health advisor had failed to follow the correct line of questioning after learning that Beverley had previously suffered a heart attack.
  • The clinical advisor incorrectly selected the response for “crushing chest pain”, and so was directed along the wrong treatment pathway.
  • The out-of-hours GP then failed to obtain the medical records taken by the two NHS call handlers, and did not ask about Beverley’s chest pain, meaning she did not recognise an acute coronary event was taking place requiring an emergency ambulance.

Paul’s investigations showed that, had an ambulance been called by either the NHS 111 call takers or the out-of-hours GP, the most likely result was that she would have been treated in hospital and would have survived. He was able to successfully settle the claim on behalf of Julio.

Paul Sankey from Enable Law said of the case, “It’s pleasing that we have been able to bring this settlement for Julio and his family. This tragic case was never about money. It was about highlighting the failings that tragically contributed to Beverley’s death and trying to ensure lessons are learned to avoid the same happening to others.”

Speaking after the claim was settled Julio Wildeboer commented, “This claim has been about highlighting the dangers involved in the remote diagnosis of illnesses and making sure no other family endures the pain and trauma we experienced.”