Page last updated at 17:44 GMT, Thursday, 3 December 2009

Hospital admits death 'failings'

Derriford Hospital
The hospital trust said it would be "unfair" to speak ahead of an inquest

Plymouth's Derriford Hospital has admitted a series of failings in the run up to the death of a patient.

Cecil Barnes, from Plymouth, was admitted to the hospital in July 2008 to undergo bladder surgery.

The 79-year-old collapsed on his return to the ward but equipment used to resuscitate him was either faulty or not used properly. He later died.

An internal investigation was carried out and 17 recommendations made to improve patient safety.

When Mr Barnes collapsed and was violently sick, the first machine staff used to try to clear his airway to resuscitate him was faulty, the investigation found.

'Civil action'

Different equipment was brought in, but staff were not familiar with its use and it was not properly switched on.

Yet another machine was tried, but its oxygen supply was not turned on because staff, again, were not experienced in its use.

The hospital's recommendations include better checks of equipment, improved labelling of equipment and better staff training.

The Crown Prosecution Service has said no-one from Derriford will face charges in relation to Mr Barnes' death, however Mitchelmores Solicitors said the family now intended to sue the hospital.

"They're still deeply distressed by the circumstances," solicitor Laurence Vick said.

"They're very keen to get to the bottom of exactly what happened."

Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust declined to be interviewed.

In a statement it said the matter would soon be the subject of a public inquest in which all the evidence and information would be heard in open court.

It would be "inappropriate and unfair" to go into the evidence in such a complex case prior to that inquest, a spokesperson added.

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