Family to sue after hospitals turned away dying mum

Mary Muldowney SUS-170223-163038001
Mary Muldowney SUS-170223-163038001

Legal action is being launched by the family of a woman who died from a brain haemorrhage after being turned away from at least three hospitals because of bed shortages.

The children of 57-year-old Mary Muldowney, from Northgate, Crawley, have instructed medical negligence lawyers Irwin Mitchell to take legal action to highlight their mother’s ordeal.

Mary was admitted to East Surrey Hospital in Redhill on July 20 last year. A CT scan revealed she was suffering from a heavy bleed on the brain and needed surgery.

But St George’s Hospital in Tooting, the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, King’s College Hospital in London, and other hospitals, all refused to admit her because they had no intensive care beds available.

In desperation, a doctor at East Surrey rang a consultant neurosurgeon at another hospital out of the area, the Royal London Hospital. The surgeon accepted transfer immediately, even though the Royal London also had no bed available. Mary was transferred but her condition deteriorated in the ambulance and the surgery was performed too late to save her.

An inquest into Mary’s death found that it was likely she would have survived if she had been given immediate surgery to stem the bleeding.

Mary’s children Sharon Callan and Sean Muldowney, have now instructed lawyers Irwin Mitchell to investigate the failures which led to their mother’s death. They want to highlight everything that happened to ensure lessons are learnt and no other patient suffers the same fate.

Sharon, 38, from Crawley, said: “Everything just became clear at the inquest; all the issues with the hospitals, the calls trying to find her a place for the operation, the bed shortages. I left the hearing with legs like jelly. I couldn’t believe that something like this could happen.

“It’s too late for my mum, and that’s something we are still trying to come to terms with, but if by raising awareness of what happened to her and how badly she was let down can prevent another family feeling this pain then something positive will have come from the loss of a wonderful mum and grandmother.”

Leanne Leighton, spokeswoman for lawyers Irwin Mitchell, said: “The revelations at the inquest came as a shock to Sharon and Sean who had been unaware of the full extent of the issues surrounding the availability of a bed for their mother. While tragically it is too late for Mary, Sharon and Sean hope that by taking legal action against the hospitals who refused to admit her, significant pressure will be put on the trusts to make changes which will prevent the same thing happening again.”

Last week all three hospitals expressed their sympathy to Mrs Muldowney’s family. They said they always accepted emergenies but at the time Mrs Muldowney was not deemed to require life-saving surgery.