The husband of a woman who died at Stoke Mandeville Hospital has been awarded compensation after it lost vital clues about her final moments.
Jane Oram (64) died at the hospital on July 17, 2012, and an inquest into her death in March 2013 heard how hospital staff mislaid a machine containing vital data.
Now, more than four years after her death, husband Liam O’Hare has been awarded £37,500 compensation by Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust over the incident.
Mr O’Hare told the Herald this week that the drawn-out battle for compensation was ‘never about the money’. He will be donating the entire amount to two charities.
The inquest heard that a monitor which recorded Jane’s vital signs prior to her suffering a massive heart attack went missing for two days after she died.
Surviving data showed an alarm on a ventilator providing air to Jane – indicating that it had become disconnected from her – had been going off for more than two hours. Staff on duty at the time said they did not hear or see the alarm and when a healthcare assistant discovered the ventilator had indeed become disconnected, Jane was in a stable condition.
This was at 3.05am, more than two hours after the alarm supposedly started, and the inquest heard it would not have been possible for her to survive this long without the ventilator’s assistance.
However, around 25 minutes’ later Jane suffered a massive heart attack. She died two days later on July 17, 2012.
Coroner Richard Hulett said a lack of concrete evidence meant he was unable to say for sure what happened and said ‘this is the inquest with the most contradictions that I have ever encountered’.
Jane had been in the spinal injuries unit at Stoke Mandeville since January 19, 2012, having suffered a brain haemorrhage as a result of a heart attack which occurred after she had gone swimming.
The coroner said it was impossible to rule if the fault lay with the machine or staff.
Mr O’Hare, of London, said this week: “By agreement with Jane’s family when the case started the whole amount will be given to charities in India and Nicaragua.”
He criticised the compensation system for its bureaucracy and high legal costs, saying his legal team’s bills alone reached six-figures, to be footed by the taxpayer.
The charity in India is IDEAS while the Nicaraguan cause works in San Francisco Libre. Jane, a retired maths teacher and former head of department at Hammersmith and West London College, visited the small Nicaraguan rural town in 1997 on a tree-planting mission and intended to return but never did. Some of her ashes are scattered there.
Sue Naidoo, deputy chief nurse at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “We were saddened by Jane Oram’s death in 2012 and would like to once again express our deepest sympathies to her husband and family.
“We thoroughly reviewed her care and treatment and at the time made a number of changes to our practice. This included improving the education and training for our staff using ventilation equipment, changing our record-keeping processes and strengthening our observation practice for ventilated patients.
“We are aware that a settlement claim by Mr O’Hare has recently been approved by the court.”