‘My husband would still be alive if we hadn’t moved back north’

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Wayne Parrott and his wife Catherine were looking forward to retirement and dreaming of returning to their roots in the Northwest.

With Catherine’s family living in Lancashire, the couple made the decision to move from Surrey to Goosnargh. However, within just a few months they were struck by a devastating tragedy.

Wayne died – and today Catherine firmly believes he would still be alive if they hadn’t moved.

Lancashire is currently in the grip of a postcode lottery. The trust that runs Royal Preston Hospital has been commissioned by the NHS since 2021 to provide a regional stroke service seven days a week between 9am and 5pm, but has only recently been able to offer thrombectomies on weekends due to recruitment issues.

Although the end is in sight; With NHS bosses confirming in January that Preston will offer a weekend thrombectomy service from September this year, patients are still slipping through the gap. One of those patients was Wayne Parrott, LancsLive reports.

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Born in Stockport, Wayne was a fit and active mountain biker with a passion for the outdoors. The father-of-four had a successful career at Royal Mail, where he was head of new business specialist services, until he and Catherine reached their 60s and began planning their retirement.

“We were getting ready to retire and Wayne was considering resigning, and it just seemed like the perfect time to move back up north,” Catherine told LancsLive. “We moved to Goosnargh at the end of October 2023 and when Wayne dislocated his shoulder he was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.”

Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition characterized by an irregular and often abnormally fast heartbeat. After being diagnosed, he began treatment with beta blockers, but tragically, on the very first day he was on medication, he suffered a severe stroke.

“It was Friday evening February 16 at 11.30pm and we had been at a dinner dance at Mitton Hall (near Clitheroe) so the ambulance took him to the Royal Blackburn Hospital,” Catherine said. “He was completely paralyzed on one side. It was a massive stroke. The nurse said he was an ideal candidate for thrombectomy, but they couldn’t do that because it was a weekend.”

The next day, February 17, doctors told Catherine there was nothing more they could do for her husband, a devoted Man City supporter. Wayne died later that same day at the age of 64.

A thrombectomy is a medical procedure in which a clot is removed using a special device through a catheter, potentially saving the patient’s life. Had Wayne received this treatment, he may have had a significant chance of survival.

At Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Royal Preston Hospital, thrombectomy services are available intermittently at weekends, with existing staff taking on additional shifts. However, the service was not active on weekends. Wayne suffered a stroke due to staffing restrictions.

However, since April this year the trust has suspended weekend thrombectomy cover until the team is able to provide a consistent service. A second angiogram theater is also being built in Preston.

Catherine, Wayne’s wife, finds the situation unacceptable and wonders how many more lives will be lost before the unequal NHS provision in Lancashire is improved.

“It shouldn’t have happened,” Catherine said. ‘How many more will die before the NHS postcode lottery ends in Lancashire?

“I know they said it will be on weekends from September onwards, but people are still dying. It’s horrible to say it, but if we had stayed in Surrey, where they do offer it, Wayne would probably still be alive.’

Catherine compared her situation to that of Edna Moss, a 79-year-old who died at Rivington Park nursing home in Chorley in February 2023. Edna was unable to undergo a thrombectomy because she suffered a stroke on a weekend when the service was unavailable.

The Royal Preston Hospital, along with Salford Royal and Walton in Liverpool, offer thrombectomy services. However, the national shortage of specialists trained to perform this procedure is putting enormous pressure on the service.

The lack of a seven-day out-of-hours service was brought to light last November following the tragic death of 31-year-old Sarah Read from Burnley. Sarah passed away in August 2022 after missing the ‘deadline’ for a life-saving procedure.

Catherine and Wayne with their two childrenCatherine and Wayne with their two children

The Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital in Blackburn, Lancashire – Credit: James Maloney/LancsLive

Area Coroner Chris Long released a report after the inquest, urging NHS England to make changes. While Mr Long did not directly link Sarah’s death to the unavailability of treatment after the 5pm cut-off date, he warned that failure to address the issue could lead to more fatalities.

In response, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, offered his “deep condolences to Sarah’s family and loved ones” and said: “NHS England would like to reassure the family and the coroner that concerns about Sarah’s care have been raised. listened to and thought about.

Prof Powis further commented: “For Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LTH), mechanical thrombectomy was carried out Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm prior to September 2023. Since September 2023, and following a successful recruitment campaign, confidence in has been able to increase the number of interventional radiologists so that the service can operate seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

He also unveiled an upcoming expansion plan, stating: “A further expansion plan is now in place, with the ambition to further extend hours to between 8am and 11pm seven days a week from April 2024 and to operate the service 24/7. 7 to operate from September 2024.

“My specialized clients expect a business case from LTH soon that supports this plan.

“In addition, construction works are currently underway to accommodate a second biplane angiogram unit, which is expected to be completed in summer 2024. LTH is currently supported by specialist commissioning with their capital offer for this second biplane, which will also must be completed and supported by a successful recruitment campaign.

“There are several interdependencies to deliver the 24/7 thrombectomy service, and the North West Specialized Commissioning Team is supporting LTH to understand the risks and mitigations required. LTH has confirmed that they are committed to operating the 24/7 service by September 2024. “

While it is true that Catherine has expressed her appreciation for improvements in local services, this cannot ease the pain of losing her beloved husband. Her husband’s funeral in Lancashire was attended by hundreds, with tributes describing him as a “top man and a true gentleman”.

“Why should we wait until September? I know the service is under pressure with recruitment, and I don’t blame the doctors involved, but something has to be done – and now,” Catherine continued.

A representative of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust extended its condolences to Mrs Walsh following the death of her husband. They assured her that “we have spoken and written to Mrs Walsh to express our sincere condolences on the death of her husband and to confirm that an investigation will take place.

“We remain committed to operating a weekend thrombectomy service once we have the sufficient specialist colleagues required to do this on a consistent and sustainable basis.”