• Surge in referrals led to two-week delay in transfer of patient to Guy’s and St Thomas’ FT for surgery
  • Lack of beds contributed to death of pensioner
  • GSTT has not written a serious incident review and response to coroner has not yet been published

A 14-day delay to surgery, caused by a lack of beds at a London teaching hospital, contributed to the death of a pensioner, a coroner has found.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust had “exceptional pressures on bed capacity” that meant Derek Weaver could not be transferred from another hospital in Sussex, the inner south London coroner ruled.

The 68-year-old was admitted to his local hospital with pneumonia in May. Three days later, it was agreed with GSTT, the regional thoracic centre, that he needed surgery but he was not transferred for two weeks.

The prevention of future deaths report — sent to the trust, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens and health and social care secretary Matt Hancock — said: “Whilst he died from natural causes, his death was contributed to by [the] delay”.

Senior coroner Andrew Harris said: “The delay in transfer related to a surge in referrals, limiting capacity.

“Most regional referrals of this sort needed to be treated at weekends to maintain treatment of cancer cases in the week.

“There had been pressure to secure greater resources. The risk of potentially preventable deaths will recur whenever there is such a surge in referrals and be mitigated by provision of more beds.”

A trust spokeswoman said no serious incident report had been written into Mr Weaver’s death. She added that the trust had prepared a response to the coroner but it would not release it publicly until the chief coroner published it on the Ministry of Justice’s website.