A Bristol man has won the right to Legal Aid to help him pursue a claim against Great Western Ambulance Services NHS Trust and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, following a severe breakdown in procedure in his treatment for chest pains, which resulted in him suffering a heart attack.
In September 2011, Mr Ward from Horfield in Bristol began to experience severe chest pains in the early hours of the morning. His wife dialled 999 and requested an ambulance. When the ambulance arrived the paramedics carried out an ECG and it was decided that Mr Ward should be transferred immediately to the Bristol Heart Institute (BHI).
Had the correct procedure been followed the ambulance crew should have contacted the BHI directly, who would have alerted its specialist Coronary Team to be prepared and waiting for Mr Ward’s arrival at a specially designated emergency entrance, where they could have taken over his care.
Unfortunately for Mr Ward, this procedure was not followed. As a result, when Mr Ward arrived at the BHI the ambulance crew were unable to gain access. The reason for this is that access to the BHI is not possible in the early hours of the
morning unless they have been informed about a patient’s arrival in advance.
Mr Ward was then kept waiting outside the BHI for around 25 minutes before the error was realised and the ambulance was finally given access to the BHI. This was incredibly distressing for Mr Ward, who could see the ambulance crew becoming more and more concerned as his condition deteriorated. Unfortunately, as Mr Ward was being transferred from the ambulance onto a trolley, he suffered a cardiac arrest.
He was successfully resuscitated but the attack has left him with permanent damage to his heart, which now only works to 36% of its original capacity. Had Mr Ward received the immediate treatment by the specialist Coronary Team at the BHI on his arrival, it is believed the heart attack could have been avoided.
Although it has become increasing difficult for people to receive Legal Aid, Mr Ward has been successful in obtaining Legal Aid to help him investigate his case. If, however, the government proposals contained in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and
Punishment of Offenders Bill, goes through, Legal Aid will be abolished in cases such as Mr Ward’s. His specialist clinical negligence lawyer, Suzanne Williams at Davies and Partners Solicitors is now seeking compensation for him from the Great Western Ambulance Services NHS Trust and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, for the permanent damage to his heart, which has reduced his ability to work and earn. Compensation is also being sought for the considerable psychological damage he suffered following the 25 minutes delay he encountered before he was admitted into the hospital. Suzanne Williams from Davies and Partners stated “I am very pleased for Mr Ward that he has been granted Legal Aid to investigate his claim. The delay in receiving treatment has had a devastating effect upon him. He can no longer work and care for his family. I hope that Davies and Partners can assist him in obtaining some compensation which will help ease the financial difficulties that he now finds himself him.”