Family welcomes inquest for Redcar man who died following ambulance delays

Still of Peter Coates from redcar
Peter Coates died in March 2019 after calling for an ambulance. Credit: Family photograph

The family of a Redcar man have welcomed news that an inquest into his death will be held, more than four years after an ambulance delay may have contributed to his death.

Peter Coates, who lived with the lung condition COPD, died in March 2019 after calling 999 when a power cut interrupted the oxygen supply he relied on.

His case formed part of a review, published in July 2023, into failings by the North East Ambulance Service.

The independent report catalogued a series of delays in reaching Mr Coates after he made the emergency call.

It found that had a crew arrived earlier, he may not have died.

His daughter Kellie told ITV Tyne Tees that confirmation of an inquest - more than four years on - is a great relief.

Ms Coates said: "The inquest for us as a family will enable us to fully - we feel - understand the delays that we feel were a contributory factor to our father's death."

Peter Coates relied on a constant supply of oxygen because of his lung condition. Credit: Family photograph

The review, published in July, found:

  • A first ambulance crew was trapped inside an ambulance compound, just a few minutes from Mr Coates' home, because the gates were affected by the same power outage, with no one able to manually override them.

  • A second crew made an unnecessary stop for fuel.

  • That crew then struggled to locate a safe box outside Mr Coates' home, which contained door keys, delaying their entry by almost 12 minutes.

The report stated that had an ambulance crew arrived earlier, "the patient may not have deteriorated so rapidly and died."

Mr Coates' family were not originally told about these issues, and only became aware of them in 2022.

The case of the former steelworker formed part of the NHS England-commissioned review, led by Dame Marianne Griffiths, into allegations that the North East Ambulance Service had covered up serious errors by altering or omitting details given to families and coroners.

While Mr Coates' family are relieved that an inquest has now been secured, they say it is just one part of what they describe as their "battle".

They are also calling for a full public inquiry into the failings of the North East Ambulance Service, arguing that it is the only way that individuals can be held to account for what happened.

In July, the chief executive of the North East Ambulance Service, Helen Ray, issued an unreserved apology to the families affected by what she called "mistakes made in the past".

Acknowledging "flaws" in trust processes, she said they had either been addressed or are being resolved "at pace".

In relation to confirmation of the inquest into Peter Coates' death, a trust spokesperson said: “We have been notified by the coroner that they have opened this inquest and will fully co-operate as required.”

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