Following the tragic death of Mr James  Hartley, a 79 year old grandfather at the Yorkshire clinic, as reported in the Daily Mail, questions are raised about the level of care provided to patients after surgery and whether care provided at private hospitals and clinics, whilst under the umbrella of the NHS, offers patients the best level of care.

Mr Hartley underwent an operation to repair a hernia. He chose the Yorkshire Clinic for his operation, using the NHS Choose and Book system, in which patients are offered a series of choices of locations to have procedures carried out.

Following the procedure, it was 14 hours before a catheter was successfully put in place and the catheter was then removed shortly after insertion. Mr Hartley was encouraged to drink water after the operation but without the catheter, a fatal amount of fluid was allowed to build up. 

Just 24 hours after surgery, Mr Hartley suffered a number of seizures and spent a further six days in intensive care at Bradford Royal Infirmary. Unfortunately, Mr Hartley sustained multiple organ failure from sepsis, an acquired brain injury caused by excessive water consumption and tragically died.

As referred to in the Daily Mail article, an Inquest took place into Mr Hartley’s death which recorded a verdict of death by misadventure. This verdict applies where an intended action has been carried out, i.e surgery to repair the hernia but the death was an unintended outcome.

Criticisms were made at the Inquest about the lack of fluid balance charts used during Mr Hartley’s treatment, which record a patient’s fluid intake and outtake.  The Coroner also raised concerns about the level of investigation into the nursing care provided to Mr Hartley, by the Yorkshire Clinic.

This case highlights the difficulties in ensuring good standards of care are provided consistently across the country for NHS patients, where treatment is carried out at private hospitals or clinics.  It is concerning that private clinics, such as the Yorkshire Clinic, are seemingly not meeting reasonable standards of care. Whilst the NHS Choose and Book system provides patients with options and shorter waiting lists, without consistent levels of care being provided, the onus is unfairly placed on patients to research their options, in order to make informed choices about the best place to go for treatment.