STAFF at the Royal Blackburn Hospital ‘failed to follow protocol’ after a cancer patient, who later died, was admitted, an inquest heard.

Retired milkman Roy Wildman, who lived in Lime Street, Nelson, fell ill after undergoing chemotherapy aimed at prolonging his life. He died from an infection on Monday, May 5.

Blackburn Coroner’s Court heard how it took two days for staff in A&E to inform cancer doctors of his arrival when it should have been done immediately.

Coroner Michael Singleton said he had hoped to question an oncologist from the hospital about Mr Wildman’s death.

Last week he asked for a review of emergency admission procedures relating to the triage of patients suffering from cancer during the inquest of another patient.

Mr Singleton said: “I required Dr Appel to come today, but unfortunately, and at short notice, she couldn’t come.

“I know the hospital has a protocol which is, if anybody attends A&E and they are currently in chemotherapy, they should be started on antibiotics, and the on-call oncologist should be informed immediately. I can tell you one concern is that evidently protocol is not followed. I’m assuming they gave antibiotics immediately, and did a blood count, and specimens were sent to a microbiologist to advice on the appropriate antibiotics scheme.”

Mr Singleton said he did not believe the delay contributed to Mr Wildman’s death, and offered Mr Wildman’s family the opportunity to adjourn the hearing until a later date when Dr Appel could attend.

When they declined, he recorded a narrative verdict, and said Mr Wildman died from neutropenic sepsis, a complication of anti-cancer treatment, with lung disease a contributing factor.

Speaking after the inquest, David Tansley, associate director of Quality and Safety at the trust, said: “Firstly, we offer our sympathies to Mr Wildman’s family.

“Patients known to be receiving chemotherapy who are admitted via the Emergency Department trigger a notification to the Oncology team.

“It would appear that on this occasion this did not happen.

“We have launched an investigation, which is now under way.

“That being the case, we cannot comment further at this time.”