A woman in need of specialist surgery for a brain haemorrhage died after a delay in trying to find her an intensive care bed.
Mary Muldowney, 57, was admitted to East Surrey Hospital with a suspected bleeding on the brain. Scans showed heavy bleeds and doctors ordered an immediate transfer to a neurosurgical unit.
Three separate units - King’s College and St George’s in London, and Royal Sussex in Brighton - refused the request, while other hospitals also said they had no beds available.
The BBC has published a letter written by coroner Mary Hassell to NHS England chiefs which says:
“In desperation, knowing of the neurosurgical expertise of a former colleague, one of the East Surrey Hospital doctors went out of area and rang a consultant neurosurgeon at the Royal London Hospital (RLH).
“Ms Muldowney was transferred to the RLH and taken straight to theatre at 4.40pm.
“Unfortunately, her pupils had become fixed and dilated in the ambulance during transfer to the RLH and surgery did not save her.
“If she had been transferred promptly, it probably would have.”