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'Was my father's death the tip of an iceberg?' Open in fullscreen

Robert Cusack

'Was my father's death the tip of an iceberg?'

Akhtar Hussain underwent heart surgery in West London [AFP]

Date of publication: 14 November, 2017

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A doctor told West London's Coroner's Court he feared his father's death was due to negligence and the circumstances had been covered up by the hospital trust.
London's Metropolitan Police are looking into how an old man died in a "huge failing of the system", after a heart surgeon allegedly neglected his duties while working a second job, a doctor told a coroner's court on Thursday.

Rex Stanbridge, consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at Hammersmith hospital, is alleged to have been negligent in his care for a patient - partly due to his second job as a private consultant at St Mary's hospital, West London Coroner's Court heard.

"I just want to know why my father died," said Nadeem Akhtar, a plastic surgeon from west London.

"I am worried that his death was just the tip of an iceberg and other deaths can be prevented," he added.

The court heard that Akhtar Hussain died at Hammersmith hospital on 25 May 2012 of natural causes, namely constrictive pericarditis, a hard-to-diagnose heart condition.

Hussain was admitted to hospital on four occasions between 6 October 2011 and 25 May 2012, while the court heard allegations his care was "not properly managed" by doctors, leading to a potential cause of death.

Hussain's son, Akhtar, told the court: "There wasn't a problem [with my father's health] until this doctor [Mr Stanbridge] came along."

Stanbridge, currently working for Imperial College Healthcare Trust, was contacted but declined to comment.

An ombudsman hearing recently ruled that Hussain's death was possibly suspicious, while the Met Police told The New Arab they were "working alongside the coroner to determine whether there are grounds to launch an investigation". No arrests have been made.

The coroner's court heard that several of the safeguarding measures surrounding Hussain's death were not followed. In particular, no incident reports were raised and a medical certificate was allegedly falsified.

Concerns were also raised over the Imperial College Healthcare Trust's handling of Akhtar's complaints.  

"If nothing has gone wrong, then why is the [Imperial] Trust trying to hide the truth?" Akhtar said.

"They have been reluctant and untruthful throughout," he alleged.

Akhtar's local MP, Bob Blackman, told The New Arab: "With the Metropolitan Police investigating and the West London Coroner's Office working the case, I am confident the Akhtar brothers will see justice served."

A spokesperson for the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said: "We reaffirm our sincere condolences to the family of Akhtar Hussain."

"The coroner has decided to hold an inquest and as such it would be inappropriate for the Trust to provide any further comment at this stage.

"We will engage fully with the inquest process."

Assistant Coroner for West London Dr Sean Cummings described Thursday's proceedings as a "complex" and "odd" pre-inquest review.

The pre-inquest review continues. The inquest is expected to be held in mid-2018.

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