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Norfolk coroner highlights ambulance failings after woman’s death

20:44 18 January 2013

Watton - Nurses - Cat Barton

Watton - Nurses - Cat Barton

A litany of failings within the ambulance service was highlighted by Norfolk’s coroner in an investigation into the death of a young veterinary nurse.

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Coroner William Armstrong described “systemic and individual” failings within the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST), which meant Catherine Barton’s chances of survival in a car crash were “substantially” reduced.

The 27-year-old died on the B1107 near Thetford golf club when her Ford Ka crashed with a Volkswagen Golf, which had lost control as the driver attempted to avoid an animal.

The inquest into her death on August 6, 2011, has exposed a series of errors by the trust – revealed during a two-day inquest in Norwich.

John Holmes, the solicitor representing the trust at the inquest, urged Mr Armstrong to avoid using the word “failing” in his verdict.

But the coroner giving a narrative verdict yesterday, said: “As a consequence of these failures Catherine Barton’s prospects of survival were substantially reduced.”

The inquest heard how paramedic Fiona Turner had struggled to deal with the crash and a lack of medical back-up meant Miss Barton was not removed from her car for more than 90 minutes.

Mr Armstrong praised the fire service and police who were the first on the scene and said they did all they could to get more medical assistance.

Mr Armstrong will now take the unusual step of writing to the ambulance trust asking them to review the evidence heard in the inquest and look at paramedic training and ambulance response times.

Marcus Bailey, who led the trust’s investigation into what went wrong, told the inquest the tragedy had led to changes to the way the trust responds to accidents.

For the full story see Saturday’s EDP and Evening News.

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