Grandfather's death followed a cascade of missed opportunities

05 February 2016

The family of a grandfather who died in hospital settled their legal action after the NHS Trust involved finally admitted liability three years after he died.
grandad death followed cascade missed opportunities nhs medical negligence
Mr and Mrs MartinMichael Martin (63) waited for over five hours at Northampton General Hospital before he was examined by a doctor and died on 21 February 2012 whilst anaesthetised and still waiting for a delayed operation having finally been taken to theatre some 15 hours after arriving in A & E.

Mr Martin had been taken to hospital by ambulance arriving at around 2.56 am on the day he died. He had been complaining of pain in his lower left side. Mr Martin's wife, Patricia (51), maintains that the hospital's night staff had shown 'no sense of urgency' and it was a day staff doctor who realised the seriousness of her husband's condition. 

With his pain increasing and his stomach becoming more swollen, at around 4.30 pm Mr Martin was anaesthetised ready to undergo an operation to remove a suspected blockage caused by an existing hernia. He suffered a fatal haemorrhage waiting for a surgeon to arrive in theatre.

Mrs Martin was represented at inquest into Mr Martin's death held in 2013 by Richard Follis, head of Private Client at Shoosmiths, who commented at the time that this was yet another case involving not a single error, but rather a cascade of missed opportunities.  

That sentiment is shared by Mrs Martin, who still believes her husband would have survived if he had been operated on sooner and remains convinced that hospital staff did not assess her husband quickly or thoroughly enough. The coroner recorded a narrative conclusion and criticised the number of delays in Mr Martin's treatment.  

Following the inquest, Mrs Martin pushed on with a clinical negligence claim through Shoosmiths. Amy Greaves, the firm's solicitor who acted for the family during litigation, admits that the Trust's failure to readily acknowledge that their errors and the delay in surgery contributed to Mr Martin's death, while not unusual in these cases, was very frustrating:

'The defendant Trust's approach and consistent refusal to acknowledge the consequences of their failures and delays identified at inquest led to us having to pursue a protracted civil claim. This created additional and unnecessary stress for the family while the Trust's intransigence also resulted in an avoidable increase in the amount of costs incurred.'

However, Shoosmiths was equally dogged and persistent in gathering evidence and we were able to obtain supportive expert testimony to prove that, on the balance of probabilities, the failures in care and the delayed surgery caused, or at least contributed to, the death of Mr Martin.  

This compelling evidence allowed us to subsequently negotiate a successful settlement and bring the matter to a satisfactory conclusion. Upon completing the legal proceedings, Mrs Martin said;

'No amount of money can ever replace what my family have lost. However, the mere fact that a settlement was reached suggests to me that the Trust have finally accepted some responsibility for my husband's death.'

Amy Greaves acknowledges that while the settlement will in no way replace what the family have lost, the process, protracted though it was, has enabled them to obtain answers and give them some sort of closure. She added:

'Although we succeeded in getting the Trust to acknowledge their negligence, it is unfortunate that Mrs Martin had to press forward with formal court proceedings in order to do so. It's regrettable that this matter was not resolved until more than three years after Mr Martin's death when an early admission of liability by the Trust would have spared the family a great deal of distress.'


This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024

Contact our experts

Sorry, there are a few problems with the information you have entered. Please correct these before continuing.


One moment please...

Thank You

Your submission has been received. We'll be in touch soon.

Who we work with

  • Brain Injury Group
  • Child Brain Injury Trust
  • Headway
  • SIA
  • Back Up
  • Macmillan
  • Danielles Flutterbyes
  • Forces
  • Bens Heroes Trust

Our accreditations

  • Accredited Personal Injury
  • Apil
  • Ama
  • Clinical Negligence
  • Legal 500
  • UK Chambers
  • The Society Of Clinical Injury Lawyers