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Pool-in-Wharfedale father could be alive if treated at hospital
A grieving family have been told their sport-loving husband and father might still be alive were it not for a healthcare “lottery”.
Sixty-five-year-old Christopher Leggatt, of Pool-in-Wharfedale, died after collapsing as he was refereeing a football game in Esholt on Sunday, September 23, 2012.
The father of four was taken to Bradford Royal Infirmary, arriving at 4.14pm. Diagnosed with a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, he was then transferred – as there were no surgeons available – to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
But Mr Leggatt suffered a cardiac arrest en route and, though he was revived, his heart stopped again before he could be operated on. He died at Huddersfield at 6.15pm.
A belated inquest was triggered when his family lodged a formal complaint.
At Bradford Coroners Court on Tuesday, Assistant Coroner Dominic Bell read from a statement provided by one of Mr Leggatt’s daughters, Andrea, stating: “He shouldn’t really be dead.
“If he’d been on the operating table within 30 minutes or sooner he’d be alive today, the statistics say.
“We need to know if it would have been a different story if it had happened during the week, when surgeons would have been at BRI. It’s not about blame, but how we can stop another family going through the pain and come to terms with our loss.”
The inquest heard that Mr Leggatt, a “well and active man”, had been diagnosed within 20 minutes of arriving at BRI and that an ambulance was waiting to take him to Huddersfield shortly afterwards.
Paul Needham, a surgical registrar with the Bradford Teaching Hospitals Trust at the time, said the transfer represented Mr Leggatt’s best chance.
He said: “Our vascular surgical cover that day was provided by Huddersfield. Our view was that a blue-light ambulance transfer would be more rapid than having a surgeon driving across (to Bradford).”
Mr Needham had liaised with consultant vascular surgeon at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust, Anver Mahomed, about the move.
Mr Mahomed told the inquest that the Bradford and Huddersfield Infirmaries took turns to provide acute care cover as part of a formal network arrangement.
Mr Bell said: “I am satisfied the decision to transfer the patient, though clearly associated with some risk, was appropriate.
“The original assumption that this death was from natural causes must still stand.”
But he also asked the Bradford Trust to examine and consider adopting the arrangements some other regions have where paramedics can, based on their diagnosis, take patients to the most appropriate, rather than nearest, hospital.
He concluded: “The family will inevitably find it distressing to know that if the vascular surgery team had been at Bradford Mr Leggatt would have expected earlier surgery and, on the balance of probabilities, would have survived.
“That, however, is not an isue that can appropriately be addressed by the individuals in this room.”
He told Mr Leggatt’s widow, Sue, and daughter Andrea he sympathised with their “loss and ongoing distress about an outcome that was the result, in a sense, of a lottery – of a certain degree of chance.”
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