Family’s Four Year Wait For Answers Over
The widow of a man who died after suffering a heart attack on holiday has spoken out following an inquest into his death.
David Robinson, of Chesterfield, had attended an emergency GP appointment complaining of breathlessness, jaw pain and a strange sensation in his chest two days before he was due to fly to Portugal with his wife Joanne Salt-Robinson in 2014.
Chesterfield Coroner’s Court was told that the couple flew to The Algarve two days later after a locum doctor said they should go and enjoy their holiday.
However, two days into the holiday David visited a clinic in Portugal due to still feeling unwell.
David was transferred to a hospital for a heart bypass because his arteries were blocked. However, he died four days after surgery following a rare complication, the court heard.
Following the 57-year-old’s death, the coroner instructed Joanne to seek lawyers to help investigate the circumstances of how he died.
Joanne has now joined her legal team at Irwin Mitchell in speaking out.
It comes after a coroner concluded that David would probably not have died on 8 September, 2014, had he remained in the UK.
Expert Opinion“The last four years have been incredibly difficult for Jo and all of her and David’s family as they attempted to come to terms with his death.
“Jo has waited a long time to give her evidence. She attended the emergency appointment with David and she believes she made it clear to the GP that the couple were due to go on holiday to Portugal, something which was always denied by the GP.
“We will continue to support Joanne and the rest of the family at this distressing time.” Helen Royles-Jones - Solicitor-Advocate - Senior Associate
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in handling medical negligence cases
In December 2013 David, who had a strong family history of heart problems, with four of his uncles dying of heart attacks in their 50s, had been taken to hospital by ambulance by paramedics after collapsing at home. Doctors put this down to a fainting episode or drinking a couple of glasses of wine the previous evening, the Court was told.
During August 2014 David, who was a keen runner and regularly attended the gym, was complaining of getting out of breath and struggling to exercise.
On 29 August he said he had struggled to walk more than 100 yards without stopping for breath. He attended an emergency GP appointment together with his wife at The Wheatbridge Surgery that day.
Joanne expressed her concerns to the locum doctor and told the doctor of David’s family history of heart issues and how he had collapsed the previous December, Chesterfield Coroner’s Court heard. The doctor put his symptoms down to anxiety or stress.
When Joanne asked if her husband should visit A&E for an ECG heart test the doctor said it was not necessary and they should go and enjoy their holiday, the hearing heard.
On 31 August the couple went to Portugal. With David’s symptoms persisting, the couple visited a clinic on 2 September.
Following tests David was transferred to a hospital in Faro on 4 September. A specialist heart surgeon from The University of Lisbon carried out the bypass.
On 7 September David was able to sit in a chair by his bed and was talking to his family. Joanne, her daughter and David’s son left him that evening to return to the hotel. However, Joanne received a phone call at about 1am on 8 September saying he had died.
Kathryn Hayes, Assistant Coroner, recorded a narrative conclusion. She accepted that Joanne was present at the appointment and made the doctor aware that the couple were due to go on holiday, although she found that the doctor who saw David made an appropriate decision within her discretion.
The coroner accepted that if David had been told not to travel to Portugal he would not have gone.
Ms Hayes found that while “some medical intervention was certainly required, it was not necessary to undergo” a heart bypass on 4 September, therefore it was “unlikely that he would have died on 8 September 2014 had he remained in the UK.”
“On the balance of probabilities” doctors in the UK would have “stabilised” David if he had suffered a heart attack while they considered a “long-term” solution to treat him, the coroner found.
Joanne said: “During visiting on the day before Dave died he seemed to be making good progress. It was the first time in a week that he seemed to be more like himself.
“When it was time to say goodbye I checked with him that he was fine and he said he was so grateful that the doctors in Portugal had finally diagnosed him correctly and at least we could go back home and have a long and happy life together.
“After hearing that I was so happy as for the first time I was feeling positive about his progress and the future. The next thing I was being woken up by my phone. It was the hospital saying Dave had died. He had been laughing and joking with hospital staff one minute and the next minute his heart had stopped beating.
“If we had known how serious Dave’s condition was we would never have gone on holiday.
“It is difficult not to think that if he had been referred to hospital for tests in August 2014 staff would have got to the bottom of his symptoms and he would still be with us today.
“Dave was such a loving man who adored life and lived it to the full. He is missed every moment of every day by all of his family and all that knew him.”