A widow yesterday criticised ambulance service bosses for allowing a paramedic to continue working despite concerns being raised about his competency following an incident involving a patient who died.
Marion Giles, 66, said it was “appalling” that paramedic Brian Jewers was still at work at the time he refused a doctor’s request to give a clot-busting drug to her husband Grahame while he was being taken to hospital by ambulance in March 2008.
Mr Jewers – later struck off by the Health Professions Council (HPC) – refused to administer the injection en route to Wansbeck General Hospital in Northumberland, saying he did not have the correct training. Mr Giles, 61, who had suffered a heart attack, died at the hospital.
At the time of the incident, Mr Jewers was under investigation by the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) over concerns about his treatment of another patient, Denise Hopper, who died in December 2007.
Mr Jewers was not suspended following the earlier incident because the NEAS did not feel it had enough evidence to do so, an inquest in Alnwick heard yesterday.
The paramedic was struck off by the HPC in 2009 following a hearing.
However, Mrs Giles, of Warkworth, Northumberland, was not told about this – or the full circumstances surrounding her husband’s death. She only found out in 2011 when the facts emerged in a media report.
In addition, the full facts surrounding Mr Giles’s death were not passed on to the coroner at the time, meaning an inquest was not held until yesterday.
North Northumberland coroner Tony Brown decided to hold the inquest because of concerns raised by the family. Yesterday Mr Brown said Mr Giles had suffered from severe heart disease and was at risk of further heart attacks, and sudden death.
He said Mr Jewers had clearly failed to treat Mr Giles as he was asked to do by a doctor at the hospital.
“One has to question whether this omission of care by the paramedic actually contributed to, or caused, the death, and arguably it may not have done given the underlying cause.
“There was, however, a clear missed opportunity to provide more suitable medical care for Mr Giles, and this was recognised at the 2009 disciplinary hearing when Mr Jewers was struck off. This failure in care was also a failure in the care provided by the ambulance service.”
After the hearing Mrs Giles said the inquest had brought to an end a very difficult period for her family.
“Nothing is going to bring my husband back but what I wanted more than anything today was the reassurance that nothing like this can ever happen again to another family.
“I should have been told what happened to my husband at the start. I was entitled to know the truth. Had the ambulance service been honest with me right at the beginning, and said they were sorry, I probably would have been more understanding of the situation, because people do make mistakes.
“I thought it was appalling that the paramedic was still practising at the time he treated my husband, even though his failings from the earlier incident involving Mrs Hopper had not been addressed.
“We were just getting over his death when I was told that perhaps he could have lived if this paramedic had done his job properly.”
The NEAS blamed an “internal communication error” for the facts not being disclosed to Mrs Giles or the coroner in 2008.
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