• Patient dies following lack of beds at a major London teaching trust
  • Coroner’s sends warning over the lack of oversight from clinicians of hospital bed status
  • University College London Hospitals FT, warned future deaths could occur if clinicians not informed of bed status across all of its sites

A patient died after being refused a transfer to a major London teaching trust due to lack of beds, HSJ has learned.

Michael Brennan died after being refused an emergency transfer to University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust due to a lack of bed’s at the trust’s Westmorland Hospital site, in October last year.

The 80 year old’s death has prompted a coroner to warn the trust to ensure its clinical staff are aware of the bed status at each of its hospital sites when making a referral. 

The news comes following reports earlier this year of patients dying due to a lack of critical care beds and poor referral processes between hospitals. 

In one case a patient died after being refused emergency transfer by four different hospitals due to the lack of available beds. 

Mr Brennan, who died on 24 October 2016, was refused an emergency transfer from the Whittington Hospital Trust. A preventing future deaths report, published 27 March, said that Mr Brennan was initally being treated for suspected lung cancer at the Whittington Hospital but was later referred to UCLH for an interventional bronchosocopy. 

”The doctor to whom Mr Brennan had been referred at UCLH advised that, should the patient deteriorate overnight, he should be referred to cardiothoracic at the Westmoreland Street hospital (a satellite hospital of UCLH).

“That evening the team caring for Mr Brennan at Whittington Hospital did refer Mr Brennan, as advised, with concerns regarding his condition. Unfortunately, no beds were available at the Westmoreland Street hospital.” the document said. 

Richard Brittain, assistant coroner for north London, raised concerns that the plan for Mr Brennan’s care relied on the availability of beds at UCLH and warned “It is possible that future deaths could occur in similar circumstances if there is not a system in place to inform clinicians of the current bed status for the Trust’s multiple sites.”

A spokeswoman from UCLH said: ”We apologise to Mr Brennan’s family and loved ones. We are deeply saddened by their loss and would like to offer our sincere condolences.

“We have noted and replied to the concerns raised by the assistant coroner. Westmoreland Street sends updates on their bed status to the main operations centre twice a day and this has now been written into the policy for managing patient flow. We are also planning to digitise our bed management system, and a full review of the policy is under way.”