Mother, 39, collapsed under her coat and died after seven-hour wait at crowded A&E

9 February 2024, 08:32 | Updated: 10 February 2024, 12:15

A woman was discovered covered in her own vomit and urine after a fatal brain haemorrhage.
A woman was discovered covered in her own vomit and urine after a fatal brain haemorrhage. Picture: Alamy

By Henry Riley and Connor Hand

A mother-of-two collapsed and died after having suffered a fatal haemorrhage at a crowded A&E department, LBC has learned.

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The 39-year-old had been waiting for at least seven hours at Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham before she was discovered unconscious under a coat.

'Shocked' staff at A&E have said they believe the long waiting times at the department may have contributed to her death.

The woman first attended A&E in the late hours of January 19 complaining of a severe headache.

She was triaged and observed three times by nurses and while her case was escalated, she was not seen by a doctor before being discovered.

When the mother was eventually called to see a doctor, she failed to respond multiple times, so it was assumed that she had left due to the duration of her wait.

She died on January 22, a few days after she had been transferred to intensive care.

A source with knowledge of the hospital claimed that the A&E department can have as many as 80 patients waiting at any one time and that wait times can be as long as 14 hours.

A hospital spokesman said they have launched an internal investigation into the woman's death.

Former NHS trust chairman Roy Lilley told LBC that the case is likely to be “escalated”.

“What will happen now is that the medical director will start an internal inquiry. My guess is they will also bring in an independent doctor from another hospital or maybe one of the royal colleges to look at the processes and protocols to see what happened.

“It will be escalated. It is a reportable event. It will go forward to NHS England and they may well want a further independent inquiry. On top of that, the woman will be subject to a coroner’s inquiry.”

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It comes as new figures released on Thursday show the extent of pressure on A&E departments in the UK, with the data showing that the number of patients waiting for more than 12 hours in England rose by almost 25% in January.

Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, which oversees Queen’s Medical Centre, is currently being investigated by midwife Donna Ockenden for more than 1,700 cases of possible harm to newborn babies and mothers at the trust’s maternity wards.

A police investigation into potential failings is set to be launched later this year.

In its most recent assessment, the independent regulator of health and social care in England, the Care Quality Commission, said Queen’s Medical Centre “requires improvement”, including for its urgent and emergency services.

Lilian Greenwood, the Labour MP for Nottingham South, told LBC that she agreed the death of the mother was “a disturbing incident” and welcomed an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death.

Ms Greenwood, who is also a shadow minister, said that “her thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends of the mother of two”. 

Dr Keith Girling, Medical Director at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust said: “I offer my sincere condolences to the family at this difficult time.

“An investigation, which will involve the family, will now take place and until this has been concluded, we are unable to comment further.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Our deepest sympathies are with the woman’s family.

"Cutting waiting lists is one of the government’s top five priorities and, despite winter pressures and the impact of industrial action, overall NHS waiting lists have decreased for the third month in a row.

"We’re determined to continue improving patient care, having already delivered on our promise to create 5,000 extra permanent hospital beds and 10,000 hospital at home beds, freeing up capacity and cutting waiting times."