Surgeons told to ring 999 for help
Published 01/07/2011 | 16:59
An MP has called for an inquiry after surgeons battling to save the life of a heart attack patient were told to ring 999 because emergency back-up had been axed.
Medics were carrying out a routine operation at Rochdale Infirmary on Tuesday when the male patient went into cardiac arrest. They pressed a buzzer to summon emergency back-up, known as a "crash team", to help re-start the patient's heart.
But the team had been moved to other hospitals after a shake-up of local services. When no one responded to the alarm, the medics called the security office and were advised to phone 999 and ask for an ambulance.
A spokesman for Rochdale Infirmary said it could not confirm whether or not doctors were told to dial 999 or whether they made the call.
The patient, who had gone in for an angioplasty operation, survived after the surgery team managed to restart his heart without outside help.
The surgery team was apparently not aware they were supposed to summon the crash team by phoning a special internal number. A memo has now been issued to staff reminding them of the changes.
Simon Danczuk, MP for Rochdale, branded the situation "farcical" and vowed to write to health minister Simon Burns to call for an investigation.
He said: "I knew communications were bad but I didn't know they were so bad that the medical staff who are carrying out operations in the hospital didn't even know that the 'crash' team had been withdrawn.
"If it weren't so life-threateningly serious it would be almost farcical. It is no way to run a hospital and I will be calling for a full investigation into this incident."
A spokesman for the Pennine Acute Trust, which runs the infirmary, said: "Specific and separate resuscitation arrangements were available to the catheter lab at Rochdale Infirmary, but we are now taking the opportunity to look at these arrangements again over the next few days."