£10k compensation awarded to Grantham Hospital patient

Helen Corcoran

Helen Corcoran

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The medical director of the trust which runs Grantham Hospital has apologised to a woman who was the victim of a hip operation blunder.

Helen Corcoran, 63, was lying on an operating table in theatre when medical staff realised the necessary blood supplies were not available.

She says she was disgusted with her treatment at Grantham and District Hospital, accusing doctors of treating her with no respect and ‘like a piece of meat on a conveyor belt’.

Suneil Kapadia, Medical Director for United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We would like to apologise to Helen Corcoran and recognise that there were aspects of her care which did not meet the high standards that we normally deliver.

“Any issues relating to quality of care for patients are taken very seriously and we continuously strive to improve our services. Practices and guidelines regularly change, and we always ensure our local practices are in line with national guidance.”

Mrs Cocoran had been due to undergo the operation to replace her right hip after suffering pain for more than a year, and had already had two blood tests and a pre-operation assessment to ensure all was in hand.

However, moments before surgery was due to start a nurse realised the necessary blood supplies – the need for which had been identified during her two previous assessments – had not been delivered to site.

Mrs Corcoran had already been given the pain-killer Oxycontin, which was administered through a cannula, and an anaesthetist was also preparing give her an epidural ready for surgery to start.

Mrs Corcoran, who lives a few miles outside Grantham and admits to being fearful of surgery anyhow, said: “The entire experience was horrendous, I was treated like a piece of meat. I was already starting to shake considerably from having had the pain-killer, and of course when you are having an operation you naturally worry about things potentially going wrong. Then all of a sudden the nurse said ‘where are the bloods?”

Having specialist blood supplies on hand had been identified as a must before surgery, in case of the need for a transfusion, due to high levels of antibodies which had been found in Mrs Corcoran’s blood during tests.

Mrs Corcoran says she then heard a conversation in which the surgeon told the anaesthetist he intended to press ahead with the operation regardless. “They discussed the missing bloods, and the surgeon said he intended to go ahead anyway. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Thankfully the anaesthetist said he couldn’t do it, as the surgeon showed me no respect at all, it was disgusting. The surgeon was showing no regard for my well-being. It was appalling.”

The operation had been due to take place in January, but due to the cancellation, and Mrs Corcoran’s reluctance to return to the same hospital since, she has been left awaiting the surgery for a further eight months. Now she hopes to have the operation elsewhere, before the turn of the year.

She said: “I took a call from Grantham Hospital some weeks after and they rather cockily said ‘let’s get this hip operation sorted’. I told them there was no way I was going back there.

“I’m now looking at having it done at Lincoln Hospital, but as my son is soon to get married I am waiting until afterwards as you are completely off your feet for six weeks. It could be next year now and the pain is getting worse.

“If I try and do too much during the day I am in agony. I use a walking stick and when I want to go upstairs I have to crawl on all fours. I wouldn’t be in this pain now if doctors had simply done their job and ensured the bloods were on site.”

Mrs Corcoran has now received an official apology from United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, which runs Grantham and District Hospital. It has also offered to pay her £10,000 by means of compensation.

She says the experience has changed the way she views the medical profession and the NHS.

She said: “I had always been someone who thought you could trust the doctors to get things right, but not after this. There was an air of poor organisation all day, from when I was in the waiting room beforehand, to being in the operating theatre and the chaos around the bloods, and then afterwards on the ward. I decided there and then I wouldn’t be going back.”

Amy Wilkinson, of medical negligence specialists Neil Hudgell Solicitors, who represented Mrs Corcoran, said: “It is always a worrying time for any patient when they are facing surgery, so for Mrs Corcoran to prepare herself mentally for this procedure, and even get as far as being in her gowns and on the operating table when it was cancelled, is unacceptable.”