Hospital trust apologises after death of Black Country grandma due to 'avoidable delays' in surgery

Dorothy Dunn died at a Black Country Hospital Credit: BPM Media

The family of a great-grandmother who died at a Black Country hospital have accepted damages and an apology from the NHS trust which runs it.

Dorothy Dunn from Sedgley died at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley in July 2017, after what relatives claim were avoidable delays in performing emergency surgery which could have saved her.

Her family has now received a letter of apology and damages from the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust.

It comes after Mrs Dunn was admitted to Russells Hall by ambulance with a swollen tongue, which was restricting her breathing.

When her airway became blocked further, doctors performed a "crash tracheostomy" - meaning they cut a hole in the neck - during which she suffered a heart attack. She died five days later.

Michael Portman-Hann, from Midlands law firm FBC Manby Bowdler, said the family believed there had been unnecessary delays in performing the tracheostomy, including a doctor called to help Mrs Dunn not immediately being told how serious her condition was.

The trust had acknowledged that vital medical equipment was not immediately to hand in the emergency department, and Mrs Dunn’s family also claimed that doctors failed to act appropriately and that she was left without treatment for a prolonged period of time.

An inquest into Mrs Dunn’s death was held last year. Black Country Coroner Zafar Siddique said there was a delay in finding equipment, including a basic scalpel to perform the emergency procedure which would have helped Mrs Dunn to breathe.

The coroner also concluded that, although he was unable to make a determination of neglect in this case, it was a borderline decision.

Mr Portman-Hann said: "The trust’s letter of apology, while welcome, comes after five years of avoidable trauma and distress for Dorothy’s family.

"Despite apologising for the failures in Dorothy’s care, the trust refused to formally admit liability as part of the family’s claim, so the family were dragged through the torment of a protracted legal process."

Diane Wake, the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trusts Chief Executive, said: "We are very sorry there were failings in Mrs Dunn’s care in 2017 and we offer our sincere condolences to her family.

"We are grateful to Mrs Dunn’s family for participating in mediation and helping us find a resolution to their claim."