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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 January 2008, 18:55 GMT
Fall man's daughter may sue trust
Henry Purnell
Henry Purnell's daughter said her father's final hours were humiliating
The daughter of a 77-year-old man who died two days after falling over said she may sue an ambulance trust.

Henry Purnell, of Great Yarmouth, had been drinking heavily before he fell.

He suffered a fractured skull and died in hospital from severe brain injuries two days later. An inquest jury has returned a verdict of accidental death.

The ambulance service was accused of missing details about the victim but a spokesman denied this and said getting to the scene quickly was the priority.

Final hours

The Great Yarmouth coroner was told Mr Purnell was arrested by police after ambulance staff said he had been aggressive.

Two ambulance technicians admitted receiving a Code 31 call which meant they were to deal with a patient who had lost consciousness - but he was awake when they arrived.

They handed him over to police to deal with as there were no external marks indicating the seriousness of the injuries he had suffered.

Mr Purnell's daughter Melanie Sawyer also said after the hearing she believed, from the evidence in the six-day inquest, that her father was humiliated in his final hours of life.

She said: "I agree with the accidental verdict, but in my mind it still does not take away the way my father was treated by the ambulance service."

Mrs Sawyer's husband Paul said suing the ambulance trust was a possible action he and his wife may take in future.

"We will be reviewing that," he said.

Mrs Sawyer added: "If they had admitted they'd made a mistake I could probably have accepted it.

"(I want) to ensure that it doesn't happen to anyone else, and if any lessons have been learned, he hasn't died in vain."

'Hang about'

At the inquest the jury questioned whether the ambulance service missed vital information by arriving too soon.

The crew got to the scene within four minutes and did not see details of the case sent later to a computer in the cab.

After the hearing, Rob Lawrence, from the East of England Ambulance Service, said: "Are you suggesting we hang about and wait to get a 100% clarification when we could be on scene exceptionally quickly with only 90% of the information?

"I would say that we must move as rapidly as we can because getting there and quickly casting a professional eye on the patient will inevitably help the patient's outcome.

"In this case, of course, the patient's condition would not have changed had we been there at eight or 19 minutes."

Ambulance control had allowed 19 minutes for the crew to arrive.

SEE ALSO
Fall man's death was an accident
28 Jan 08 |  Norfolk
More time may not have saved man
25 Jan 08 |  Norfolk
Police 'unaware' of man's injury
23 Jan 08 |  Norfolk
Medics 'unaware man had fallen'
22 Jan 08 |  Norfolk

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