in the back
Fatal blue-light blunders
Ambulance services, Issue 1478
Leicestershire councillor Trevor Moncrieff, who was denied the life-saving care he needed
A CATALOGUE of blunders – including dispatching an ambulance with faulty life-saving equipment and transporting the patient to the wrong hospital – resulted in the death of a 66-year-old man who had suffered a sudden heart attack in his home in 2014.

A leading cardiologist has concluded that Trevor Moncrieff, a Labour councillor at Melton council in Leicestershire, would probably have survived had there not been avoidable delays in both resuscitation and subsequent surgery.

Although a private ambulance crew arrived within six minutes of a 999 call from Mr Moncrieff’s son Matthew, its “second-hand” and outdated defibrillator didn’t work. Panicked calls and texts (the private ambulances had no direct radio contact) to the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) control centre went unanswered.

More mistakes and delays
Alerted by another 999 call from Matthew, a nearby fire crew arrived with a working defibrillator and – 35 minutes after the paramedic first tried – Mr Moncrieff’s heart was jolted back into action. The paramedic later described the event as “one of the worst kinds of situations a paramedic could ever be involved in – to see a shockable rhythm and not be able to rectify it”.

More mistakes and delays followed. A decision was taken to rush Mr Moncrieff to A&E at Grantham and District Hospital, when Queen’s Medical Centre Nottingham and Leicester Royal Infirmary were slightly nearer and, vitally, offered both A&E and specialist cardiac catheter labs. By the time he arrived at Grantham, 90 minutes had passed since the first failed shock treatment. He was then “blue-lighted” again to a cardiac centre at Lincoln County Hospital (another 34 miles), where there was more delay before an angioplasty, to restore blood to the damaged heart, was carried out.

Mr Moncrieff never regained consciousness and died from multi-organ failure five days later, on 6 September 2014. An expert report by consultant professor Stephen Brecker, chief of cardiology at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, concluded that if Mr Moncrieff had been successfully resuscitated when the Amvale Medical Transport ambulance first arrived, and if he had been taken straight to the local heart attack centre, he could have had emergency surgery within an hour and a half – and “on the balance of probabilities” would have been one of the 10 percent of people who survive heart arrests outside hospital. He would at least have been given a chance. As it was, it took more than four hours.

Basic failures
It was not until May this year that the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) and the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) settled a claim for negligence brought by Mr Moncrieff’s four sons. But the family remain determined that no one else should fall victim to such basic failures to provide life-saving equipment, and they have wider questions about the use and monitoring of staff, skills and equipment provided by private ambulance services.

The EMAS has a troubled recent history. At the time of Mr Moncrieff’s death it had financial difficulties and some of the worst response times in England, and a Care Quality Commission report found that investigations into serious incidents and reports on them were “inconsistent and at times contradictory”. The latest CQC report says that while there have been improvements, the safety of emergency and urgent care services still “requires improvement” and problems remain with response times and incident investigation.

Both the EMAS and the hospital trust denied liability, but the ambulance service has apologised in a letter to the family for the faulty equipment and communication problems, which it has since rectified. It maintains, however, that the decision to take Mr Moncrief to Grantham A&E was correct. In a statement to the Eye, it said it had £9m for extra staff and equipment and insisted that “lessons have been learned and appropriate action has been taken”.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, responsible for both Grantham and Lincoln hospitals, issued one of those non-apologies. It told the Eye: “We would like to apologise to the family of Trevor Moncrieff that there were aspects of his care which they felt [our italics] did not meet the high standards that we normally deliver.”

Another son, Michael Moncrieff, told the Eye: “Regardless of what we felt, there were enormous failings by both trusts. We still struggle with the fact that our father was denied the life-saving care he needed.”

More top stories in the latest issue:

Forget ‘sat-nav chaos’: the real sticking point of the UK being booted from the Galileo satellite programme post-Brexit has more to do with missile guidance.

The US decision to build new hangars and repair bays at RAF Lossiemouth to service the Poseidon sub-hunting aircraft is less of a boost to the UK defence industry than it seems.

The MoD is hoping UK participation in a joint military operation in Oman this autumn, followed by a big firepower demo, will lead to juicy trade deals.

New contractor ‘thebigword’ is doing far better at getting translators to attend court than Crapita ever did. But questions remain over their qualifications.

Leaks of both water and supposedly secure data have made it a summer to forget for the Canal and River Trust.

Satellite data from Natural England reveals (to no one’s surprise) that dozens of tagged and endangered hen harriers have vanished over grouse shooting estates.

Bereaved relatives and survivors of the 1974 Guildford pub bombings will ask a coroner to resume the original inquest to uncover the truth behind the atrocity.

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Next issue on sale: 16th October 2018
Private Eye Issue 1478 In This Issue
Brexit Wasn’t Given a Chance, Says Brexiteer Who Quit – Daily Borisgraph Exclusive… Summer Plotting to End Soon to Make Way for Autumn Plotting… House Prices Crash to 2% Higher Than They Were… Let’s Parlez Franglais: La Guerre des Scallops… Trump Prevented from Attending McCain Funeral by Bone Spur… How TV’s Bodyguard is Really Brilliant and Based on Me, by All Female Former Home Sexretaries… Madonna: In Memoriam, 2018, as told to Craig Brown

Lootin’ with Putin
City suits and the Moscow gold rush

Galileo blow
It’s all about missile guidance, stupid!

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16th October 2018
Private Eye Issue 1477