Deceased's man 7hr wait at Belfast A&E was unacceptable

By Gillian Crotty

The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust has apologised to the family of a man who died in an accident an emergency unit after waiting 7 hours to be seen by a doctor.

On 22nd March 2013 Norman Dunseith, aged 57, arrived at the Mater hospital in Belfast with serious breathing problems and was quickly seen by a nurse. Guidelines suggest he should have been flagged as requiring urgent care and seen by a doctor within 10 minutes. He waiting 7 hours before a doctor examined him and he died of a sudden heart attack. Mr Dunseith was himself a former hospital porter, and would have been involved in the care and treatment of hundreds of patients, making it all the more tragic that the hospital should have failed him so significantly.

An inquest into Mr Dunseith's death has now been completed and the coroner's conclusion should be available shortly. On the final day of evidence the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust apologised to Mr Dunseith's family and said the delay in his treatment was "unacceptable".

The family have welcomed the apology but have expressed concern that the issue with the shortage of doctors has not been addressed. There has been an increase in nurses in Belfast emergency departments, but in Mr Dunseith's case he had been seen by a nurse within 3 minutes of arriving at the hospital, and it was the lack of availability of a doctor that caused the delay. It is understood that there has been no increase in the number of doctors.

If you have suffered injury or loss as a result of medical negligence, including a delay in treatment at a Northern Ireland hospital, contact one of the clinical negligence solicitors at Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast or Bangor to discuss your compensation options by calling 0800 840 9289.

To read more information about medical negligence click here.