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Shoosmiths recently settled a case on behalf of the family of Jesse Rollason (deceased) who sadly passed away at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital NHS Trust on 10 April 2020. Shoosmiths also attended a virtual inquest on 30 March 2021 to represent Mr Rollason’s family to investigate the cause of his death. The Trust admitted liability for failings related to nursing care and failings to consider concerns raised by the family during the time of his hospital admission.
At the age of 88, Jesse Rollason was an active and independent man involved in family life. On 24 March 2020 he was admitted as an emergency to City Hospital due to some shortness of breath. He was given antibiotics for a suspected chest infection. Three days later a test confirmed that he had COVID-19. However, by 31 March 2020 he was considered medically fit to be discharged home from hospital care.
As a consequence of his positive COVID-19 result Mr Rollason was required to self-isolate for ten days, but he could not return home due to a shortage of PPE available to support workers who would be visiting him. Therefore, Mr Rollason was transferred to Ward 47 at City Hospital for care while he awaited transport home.
Mr Rollason stayed in Ward 47 for four days and during this time the family were not able to visit him in person, instead they were only able to contact their father by telephone or facetime. Mr Rollason’s condition began to deteriorate and the family became increasingly concerned about his declining condition and repeatedly raised concerns with nursing staff on the telephone about their father’s poor fluid and dietary intake which they had observed.
Despite the family raising concerns, Mr Rollason’s condition deteriorated further and he subsequently collapsed in the early hours of 4 April 2020. Mr Rollason was re-admitted by ambulance to the Accident and Emergency Department at City Hospital in the late afternoon. Five hours later a do-not-resuscitate order was put into place and Mr Rollason proceeded to receive palliative care.
Over the following week Mr Rollason’s condition deteriorated further and he suffered renal failure and a suspected deep vein thrombosis. Following his subsequent transfer to Leasowes Intermediate Care Centre, Mr Rollason sadly died on 10 April 2020, this being the day his self-isolation was supposed to have ended.
An internal investigation was carried out by the Trust following Mr Rollason’s death which confirmed that there had been failings by the nursing staff to monitor Mr Rollason’s fluid intake and that had the appropriate charts been completed this may have highlighted the need for an earlier response to Mr Rollason’s dehydration and declining condition. It was also admitted that ward admission staff had failed to consider the concerns raised by the family.
The report highlighted several remedial actions to improve services at the Trust. For example, the need for all nursing documentation for admission and stays on D47 to be reviewed and audited by the matron. Also, further training regarding the recognition and care of the deteriorating patient was recommended for the nursing staff.
An inquest was held virtually on 30 March 2021 and Shoosmiths’ supported Mr Rollason’s family by setting up an online video conference between themselves and the family’s barrister so that the family could ask questions and give further instructions when necessary.
During the inquest, evidence was heard from two clinicians and the matron covering Ward D47 at the time of Mr Rollason’s stay. The matron said that staff should have acted sooner when Mr Rollason showed signs of deterioration. However, the two clinicians at the Trust were of the view that Mr Rollason’s deterioration was due to COVID-19 and that even if he had received earlier treatment, it was unlikely he would have survived this multi-system disease. The Coroner concluded that Mr Rollason’s death was from natural causes as a consequence of COVID-19.
After the inquest the family stated it was a tragedy that after their father’s initial successful recovery and discharge from medical care everything seemed to go disastrously wrong when there was a shortage of PPE and he could not get home.
The family said that they were grateful to Shoosmiths for helping them with their father’s case. They felt reassured knowing that there were professionals ready to fight their corner and with compassion after a very difficult 12 months period. Following the inquest they were relieved to know that they were right to bring matters to the attention of the Coroner and that the admitted shortcomings in their father’s care have led to lessons being learned to prevent similar incidents being repeated and to protect the future care of patients.