Failures Also Identified In The Emergency Medical Care Provided At the Scene
The family of a keen cyclist from Scarborough who died following a cycling accident are appealing to the local council to do more to encourage cycling safety.
The family have also instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to represent them during the Coroner’s inquest and to investigate whether any lessons can be learned from the emergency response to the accident and his subsequent medical treatment.
John Thompson died on arrival at hospital on 9th June, 2017, aged 69, after suffering serious injuries when he fell while cycling near the bottom of Reasty Bank Road in Harwood Dale, Scarborough. A passer-by called 999 and an ambulance and rapid response vehicle were dispatched to the scene.
When the medical team arrived they found John to be suffering from serious chest and shoulder injuries.
John, a father to two adult sons, Nick and Craig, was later taken to the Major Trauma Centre at James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough. Paramedics at the scene of the accident suspected that John had suffered a collapsed lung but struggled to resolve this.
At some point it appears that John suffered a cardiac arrest and there was a delay in recognising this until he was on his way to hospital. Although the hospital staff initially managed to resuscitate him, John sadly died shortly after arrival.
After his death, as well as instructing medical negligence specialists at Irwin Mitchell, John’s wife, Elaine, 65, has pressed the North Yorkshire Council to do more to promote cycling safety. In an attempt to ensure no one suffers like she and her family have done, Elaine successfully persuaded the council to put up a sign near to where John’s accident occurred to warn traffic of cyclists.
However the sign the council did put up only warned road users of the change in gradient on the road, and not the winter gravel and grit, which is the immediate concern to cyclists.
Elaine has campaigned for the council to transfer winter gravel and grit into boxes rather than simply leaving them in piles on the side of the road, as they currently do.
When it rains, these piles can become unstable and wash across the road making the conditions very unsafe for cyclists and other road users. So far the council have installed two grit boxes but a number of loose piles of grit remain on Reasty Bank Road.
Elaine, who had been married to John for 46 years, said: “John’s death has had a huge impact on mine and the rest of the family’s lives. I am still struggling to come to terms with the fact that he is no longer with us.
“We urge the council to do more to promote cycling safety awareness to ensure no other family has to feel the pain we have felt losing John.”
As the exact details of how John’s accident happened remain undiscovered, Elaine has spoken of her surprise when she learned that the North Yorkshire Police had not been called to the scene and were only notified of the accident on Monday 12th June 2017. This was when Elaine’s son Craig contacted them for an update, only to be told that they had absolutely no record of the incident. The case is currently under investigation and the Police are working with the Coroner for Teesside to establish exactly what happened.
Elaine added: “We were shocked when Craig was told that the police had no record of the incident. It’s worrying that a fatal accident can occur on UK roads, with emergency services present and the police be completely unaware of it ever happening.”
Following John’s death an NHS internal investigation highlighted serious issues with the medical care that was provided to John immediately following the accident.
The investigation revealed a breakdown in communication and team-working and a loss of situational awareness by the medical team. This impacted on clinical decision-making and negatively affected the delivery of medical care at the scene.
The report also found that a failure to take in and fully understand information suggesting a low cardiac output, led to a delay in identifying the cardiac arrest. Had this not happened, it is possible that John may have survived.
Ross McWilliams, the medical negligence specialist at Irwin Mitchell that is representing Elaine and her family, said:
Expert Opinion“When dealing with serious injuries to vulnerable road users such as cyclists, the immediate response is critical and unfortunately the NHS’s own internal report has found that there were some serious failures in the way that John was treated which could have caused or contributed to his death.
“We have been instructed by the family to assist them with the Coroner’s Inquest and to investigate the care that John received. The family are hopeful that they will finally be able to get some answers as to whether more could have been done for him and whether lessons can now be learned to reduce the risk of similar incidents in future.
“We will work with the family to ensure we get those answers and to support them throughout the process.” Ross McWilliams - Partner
Elaine added: “Reading the report was a very distressing experience. We just want to know if more could have been done to prevent John’s death to ensure that lessons can be learned to stop it from happening again.”