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'Dead on arrival? We don't know!' -Tim slams failure to record vital patient information

December 14, 2009 12:00 AM

South Lakes MP Tim Farron has reacted angrily to news that local NHS bosses do not record vital information on patients who are dead on arrival at hospital - leading to suggestions of a cover-up of the effects of the recent Acute Medical Services Review.

Tim asked both the hospitals trust and the ambulance trust for figures through the Freedom of Information Act relating to the numbers of patients declared dead on arrival at local hospitals in recent years. Both trusts have responded that they 'do not routinely record this information'.

Tim asked the questions in order to establish whether more patients had died on their way to hospital following the unpopular decision to close the Coronary Care Unit at Westmorland General Hospital in August 2008. Anecdotal evidence suggests that people have died in ambulances on the way to Lancaster since then when they could have been saved had they been able to go to Kendal for treatment.

Tim said, "The main reason for opposing the closure of Kendal's heart unit was that it would increase the risk of people dying before they reached hospital. For the two trusts to have failed to monitor this situation over the last 18 months is simply appalling. We can speculate that they did not keep these figures because they knew that if they did it would undermine their case for closure. We know, informally, of patients who have died on the long journey to Lancaster who could have survived had they been able to be treated at nearby Kendal.

"There are now going to be suspicions of a cover-up. If health bosses were confident in their decision, they would have kept figures to back up their case. Their failure to keep these figures can only suggest that they knew that lives might be put at risk by the closure of the heart unit at Kendal."