Widow still seeking answers over husband’s death nearly five months on
PUBLISHED: 09:36 03 June 2018 | UPDATED: 15:51 03 June 2018
The wife of a man who died amid winter pressures on the NHS is still waiting for answers over whether he could have been saved nearly five months on.
Brian Havard, 52, died on the side of the road in the back of an ambulance on January 9, after he had been discharged from hospital just hours earlier.
Now, it has been revealed Mr Havard died from an aortic dissection - a tear in the major artery carrying blood out of the heart.
But his widow Aileen, who lives in Burgh Castle near Great Yarmouth, is demanding answers over why this was not spotted by clinicians and why Mr Havard was not included in a analysis of harm caused by winter ambulance delays.
Mr Havard collapsed with chest pain at his cabin off Cromer Road, in High Kelling, on January 8 and was taken to hospital, where he faced a four and a half hour wait in the back of an ambulance outside A&E.
MORE: Five-hour hospital wait then sent home to die - grief-stricken woman wants answers after partner dies aged just 52
He was finally admitted around 6am but just a few hours later was told he could leave and that he had skeletal pain.
However when his partner, Gwendoline Day, took him home he collapsed again. A paramedic arrived but there was a two-hour wait for an ambulance and Mr Havard never made it back to hospital, and he died in the ambulance.
Both East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) are investigating.
But Mrs Havard, who was still close to her husband despite their separation, said: “There seems to be a concerted effort to brush as much of this under the carpet as possible.”
She was prompted to speak out after a second whistleblower from the region’s ambulance trust said the findings of an independent review into the harm caused by winter delays did not tally with frontline experience.
Mrs Havard said: “I wanted to back that up and it’s my view that there have been cases dismissed.”
Mr Havard’s case is not believed to be one of the 22 examined in the independent review - both EEAST and regulator NHS Improvement (NHSI) refused to confirm whether he was or why he may not have been.
The review was ordered by commissioners and NHS Improvement and found while no one in those 22 cases died as a result of delays, three people did suffer harm.
Since this newspaper put questions to EEAST about the case on Thursday Mrs Havard had been contacted by the trust’s interim medical director Tom Davis.
But she still had concerns.
MORE: ‘I want to know what happened to Brian’ - Widow’s bid to shed light on death of man who was discharged from hospital just hours earlier
She said: “I remain of the view that this review is actually meaningless on its own in terms of providing the people of East Anglia with a full picture and provides false reassurance.
“After all, the question remains about how these cases were whittled down. How many, like Brian, weren’t included because they are multi-agency etcetera?
“And whilst the people involved in the crisis summit may know the answers, families and the public do not but were presented with a very black and white picture.”
She added: “We do not know at what point it became inviable to save Brian, so how can they say he suffered no harm?”
“I’m not out to get anybody’s blood I just want answers.”
An EEAST spokesman said: “Our sympathies are with Mr Havard’s family at this very difficult time. They raised their concerns with EEAST and we are looking in to this, and will be making sure that the family are given the opportunity to meet with a senior clinician. The case is with the coroner at the moment so we cannot comment further.”
An NHSI spokesman added: “We fully appreciate this must be a very distressing time for the family and friends of Mr Havard. We understand that they have raised their concerns with the East of England Ambulance Service, which is looking into them.”
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) has issued multiple warning about missing aortic dissection - the condition which killed Mr Havard.
In 2016 it listed it as the second most prevalent theme in clinical incidents preported in emergency medicine.
This newspaper asked the NNUH whether a CT scan, which the RCEM recommends to detect the condition, was carried out on Mr Havard. And why Mr Havard was discharged and sent home.
The trust refused to answer while an investigation was under way but a spokesman said: “We are aware of the concerns of the family with regards to the case of Mr Havard and are working with them to address their questions. An internal investigation is ongoing and we are also working closely with the Coroner to assist with their ongoing investigation.
“When the internal investigation has been concluded, we will of course share and discuss our findings with the family.”