Coroner slams 111 service after grandmother dies in agony

Susan Longden died follwing a routine colonoscopy at Weston General Hospital

Susan Longden died follwing a routine colonoscopy at Weston General Hospital - Credit: Enable Law

A coroner has slammed the NHS 111 service after a grandmother died in agony following a routine test at Weston General Hospital.

Susan Longden died in the early hours of February 1 following a rare complication after a colonoscopy.

The 69-year-old had been diagnosed with irritable bowl syndrome in 2014 and had a growth removed a year later.

Before her death, the retired guest-house-owner had suffered severe pain for more than eight hours, but had been advised by hospital staff not to go to A&E.

Mrs Longden, went to bed at 8pm, 40 minutes later her husband, David Longden rushed into the bedroom to find her writhing in agony and screaming ‘call 111.’

Mr Longden immediately rang the service but was told by staff that there would be a two hour wai for a doctor to arrive. He asked for an ambulance instead but was told it would take two-and a half hours.

Assistant coroner, Dr Peter Harrowing was critical of the NHS 111 service stating, ‘the severity of the situation was not recognised by call handlers.’

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Dr Harrowing ordered a preventing future deaths report.

Following the inquest the family said in a statement via their lawyer, Laurence Vick, that it was extremely hard for them to come to terms with Sue’s preventable death.

The family believe had the 111 call handler recognised the severity of Susan’s condition an ambulance could have been called sooner and ‘she may still be alive’.

Marjorie Gillespie, medical director, of Care UK, which runs the 111 service in the region said: “We would like to express our sincere condolences to Mrs Longden’s family at what we know is an exceptionally difficult time.

“While the coroner was clear that if the 111 service had called an emergency ambulance immediately the outcome was unlikely to have been different, we have nonetheless investigated how the call was handled and have identified some improvements which may enable NHS 111 staff to act more quickly in this exceptionally rare set of circumstances.

“Importantly, the coroner has also indicated that he will issue a future death report into the incident to the national NHS body responsible for the way in which the 111 software deals with similar, very rare, cases.

“As the provider of the 111 service in the South West, we have made similar recommendations to the same national body, and hope that changes can be made to help both patients and call handlers in the future.”

The inquest ended on November 29. During it the family had concerns about the hospital’s care, but the coroner did not raise any in his ruling.