Coroner Pens Letter To NUH Chief With ‘Concerns’ For Hospital Communication, After Death Of Much-Loved Grandfather

Michael Daft
  • Michael David Daft died aged 66 after undergoing cancer treatment at City Hospital in Nottingham, part of the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NUH)
  • An inquest into his death found that Michael Daft died of natural causes, but there were concerns about delayed testing and a lack of communication between the hospital’s multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs)
  • The Coroner stated a letter would be written to the Chief Executive of NUH outlining key concerns
  • Nelsons has been supporting Michael’s wife, Julie Ward-Daft, and her family to find answers

Nottingham Coroner’s Court concluded on Wednesday 22 November that there were ’concerns around communication between MDTs when an individual is on multiple patient pathways’ after the death of a 66-year-old man at City Hospital, Nottingham.

Michael David Daft was referred to Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) following a routine Bowel Cancer Screening test in July 2021. Subsequent investigations and scans revealed a T2 N0 M0 (stage 2) rectal tumour and shading on his kidney.

A cancer diagnosis was given for the rectal tumour in August 2021 by the colorectal MDT, with further testing by the urology MDT required to find out whether the kidney shading was renal cancer. This would have determined if the surgery required two teams to operate on both cancers.

Michael was scheduled for surgery to remove the rectal tumour at the end of September 2021, but this was cancelled due to testing by urology not being complete and rescheduled for 3 December. It was then cancelled on this date, as there was no high-dependency bed available for Michael and pushed back to 17 December.

Ahead of this surgery, scans taken on 16 December revealed the rectal tumour had spread and Michael was informed surgery was no longer an option; the decision was then taken for Michael to undergo chemotherapy treatment going forward.

Around this time, an independent investigation also took place with the colorectal and urology departments for the delays in Michael’s surgery – this revealed the initial scans of the tumour showed a T3 N1 M1 tumour (stage 3), which had been downgraded by the colorectal department during an MDT meeting. This also revealed that the urology department acknowledged at least a three-to-four-week delay in processing test results.

On 8 November 2022, Michael was admitted to City Hospital with significant abdominal pain. Over the next two days, his condition deteriorated.

Michael’s wife, Julie, received a call at around 12 noon while at work from a doctor, who informed her Michael had taken a turn and she should come into the hospital. Both Julie and other family members had trouble finding parking, which delayed their arrival and meant Michael’s daughter was not able to be with him before he passed. Something the family feels should be taken into consideration in emergency situations such as this.

When Julie arrived at Michael’s bedside, an ultrasound was taking place and Michael was being administered antibiotics and pain relief – Julie recalls he was very unsettled and agitated. Despite medical intervention, sadly, in this time, Michael passed away.

The inquest took place over three days – Wednesday 8, Wednesday 15 and Wednesday 22 November – at Nottingham Coroner’s Court.

The cause of death was held to be of natural causes due to rectal cancer with perforation, and heart disease. Other contributing factors included renal cancer.

In her conclusion, Miss Wood stated there would be a Regulation 28 letter written to the Chief Executive of NUH setting out matters concerning communication between MDTs. She said “a lack of communication” was clear in Michael’s case, and this impacted the delivery of information to the family and subsequent treatment for Michael.

Miss Wood also described the delays of testing for Michael as “serious and unacceptable”. She noted how Michael and Julie had to contact the hospital several times, adding “patients and families deserve better at a time of so much uncertainty”. She highlighted that the “basic standards” of regular communication were “not met”.

Regarding Michael Daft’s passing, Miss Wood recalled Mr Simpson’s evidence – consultant colorectal surgeon at NUH – that the bowel perforation Michael suffered would have been an ‘undignified and painful way to die’ and that this ‘could have been avoided’.

In a statement on behalf of Michael’s family, Julie said:

“Working for the NUH trust and returning to my role has not been easy, but I have managed to do so with the support of family, friends and colleagues. Michael would have wanted me to keep going and help others along the bowel cancer screening process, and to highlight failings so that other families would not experience the same thing we did.

“When Michael was in theatre, all preparations were made to commence the operation with two surgical teams, and he was told the surgery had been cancelled. His first words to me when I went to collect him were, ‘well, there must have been someone who needed the operation more than me’. When, in reality, Michael needed this operation to give him time he deserved with his family.

“I feel NUH needs to look at the wider picture and listen to the consultants more when making final decisions like this. As they learnt that when Michael came into hospital that day, the bed he needed was given to someone already in hospital. This is why, for the rearranged operation, he was taken into hospital three days early so as not for this to happen again.  

“On that final day in November, Michael experienced an unacceptable and undignified death, when he could have been made comfortable on the correct medication with his family around him. The treatment, incidents and experiences that Michael and the family have been subject to should not take place in anyone’s care.

“I will never be able to forget what Michael was subjected to from that first diagnosis to his final moments, and lessons must be learnt from this to ensure no family goes through this again.

“Michael meant the world to me; he was my soul mate, my best friend and the love of my life. He was the person I would always turn to; he gave me happiness and stability. With Michael, I felt safe. We were two peas in a pod and loved our own company.

“Michael and I met 35 years ago and got married in 1998 – this year we were planning to celebrate our 25th anniversary by renewing our vows – something that was not able to happen. I am disappointed in a sense with the conclusion, but I recognise that the coroner has made note of the delays in Michael’s treatment, and acknowledges the letter that will be addressed to NUH.”

Rachel Benton, Associate in our Medical Negligence team, has been assisting Julie during the process, alongside barrister Georgina Cursham of Ropewalk Chambers who represented the family during the inquest.

Rachel said:

“The inquest highlighted many concerns about the delays in testing and lack of communication during Michael’s cancer treatment.

“Today’s ruling comes after what has been an extremely difficult process for Michael’s family. Having just passed the anniversary of losing a much-loved husband, father and grandfather, I hope Julie and all of Michael’s loved ones now have answers and some sense of closure to begin moving forward.

“While sadly these findings will not change what happened to Michael Daft, I am pleased that a letter will be written to the chief executive at NUH, which will hopefully change how MDTs communicate and make patient pathways more effective. It’s important that lessons are learnt to avoid families experiencing the same pain.”

Contact us today

We're here to help.

Call us on 0800 024 1976

Main Contact Form

Used on contact page

  • Email us