Alfred John Lee, aged 76 of Newham, underwent bowel surgery at Whipps Cross Hospital on June 16th 2015 and was discharged on June 26th 2015. He died on 2nd July 2015 from multi organ failure as a result of systemic sepsis brought on by an anastomotic leak.

Professor J.H. Scholefield, an independent expert in colorectal surgery, was called by Her Majesty’s Coroner, Mr Ian Wade QC, to provide an opinion as to the standard of care Mr Lee received.

Professor Scholefield told the Inquest that if there had not been a misdiagnosis of bowel cancer following a colonoscopy, he would not have had the surgery which ultimately led to his demise. In addition, Professor Scholefield told the Inquest that Mr Lee should not have been discharged on 26th June 2015 and had investigations been carried out when clear clinical indications presented that something was wrong, the leak would have been detected and Mr Lee would have received appropriate treatment and on balance not have died.

The Assistant Coroner Mr Wade QC delivered a narrative conclusion at Walthamstow Coroner’s Court on Tuesday, in which he said Mr Lee did not die of natural causes.

Following the Inquest, Mr Lee’s daughter, Jacqueline Cunningham, said: “We are happy with the evidence that came out at the Inquest today, if things had been done differently, we feel that Dad would be with us today.

“Although we understand the extreme pressures that the NHS is under, the consequences of discharging an elderly and vulnerable patient too soon are clear for all to see.

“Not only that, Dad underwent an unnecessary and costly procedure that ultimately resulted in his untimely death, and we want to ensure that this doesn’t happen to any other patient or their family.”

Mr Lee was misdiagnosed with bowel cancer and was operated on at Whipps Cross Hospital, part of Barts Health NHS Trust. He underwent a procedure to remove part of his bowel but when the wound began to leak internally, it went undetected and the leak led to fatal multi organ failure.

Also in attendance at the Inquest was Mr John Peters, Clinical Director of Barts Health NHS Trust and a consultant urological surgeon.

Mrs Cunningham added: “Someone is accountable for my father’s death which I feel was caused by the many mistakes that were made and I will not rest until I have justice. Although any changes will not bring dad back to us, we don’t want to see any more families go through the pain and suffering that we have experienced over the last 18 months.”

·       Mr Lee’s family were represented by barrister Mamta Gupta of No5 Barristers’ Chambers, who in turn was instructed by Louise Tyler of Wilson Browne Solicitors.

·       Since Mr Lee’s death, Barts Health NHS Trust has implemented a number of changes including recruiting more histopatholgists and apportioning cancer patients needing surgery between Whipps Cross and Royal London hospitals, a new pathway for the treatment of bowl cancer patients.