The mother of a man who died three hours after a paramedic was called to his home in Northampton has hit out at law changes which meant she could not be awarded compensation for shock.
Keith Bandy dialled 999 at 5.36am on May 22, 2010, after he experienced severe breathing difficulties.
A paramedic then attended the 30-year-old’s home, in Hammerstone Lane, Briar Hill, Northampton, but left after just 16 minutes, telling operators Mr Bandy had become “totally uncooperative” after he tried and failed to assess him.
However,his mother Avril found him collapsed at 7.50am the same day and he was pronounced dead less than an hour later.
A two-day inquest in 2013 concluded Mr Bandy might have survived if the paramedic who attended the 999 call had not left vital equipment in his car to test the amount of oxygen in Mr Bandy’s body.
But a compensation claim by Mr Bandy’s mother Avril for the psychological trauma she suffered in trying to resuscitate her son, has now fallen through after a change in the law on “secondary victims”.
As she did not actually witness the events that directly caused her son’s death but came home to find him dead, it is now impossible for her to make a claim as a secondary victim.
Now Avril is also calling for a change in the law, which some experts say makes it incredibly hard for “secondary” victims who have witnessed loved ones injured or killed through negligence to claim compensation.
She said: “What we really truthfully want is a change in this law.
“We just feel like we have been victimised again and again.”
Avril, a retired nurse, only discovered a paramedic had visited Keith on the day he died after reviewing CCTV footage from outside Keith’s home in Hammerstone Lane.
It took three years for the case to come to an inquest while EMAS conducted a lengthy internal investigation.
On the morning her son died Avril had attempted to revive her son by pumping his heart and watched as a second ambulance crew failed to revive him.
She said the trauma of seeing her son die will never leave her.
“I knew he had gone but with the shock of seeing him like that I started CPR.
“It felt like it wasn’t really happening, I could see him there, but somehow it wasn’t real. I am still numb I suppose.”
Avril and Mr Bandy’s father Robert were awarded costs for the funeral and expenses by EMAS in December 2014.
Solicitor Jill Davies of Access Legal, which tried to prove Mrs Bandy had suffered psychological trauma after the incident, said the changes in the law have made it difficult for people like Mrs Bandy to claim.
“Frankly the Bandy’s needed to claim to cover the sums, which they could ill afford, that they’d had to spend on the funeral, the headstone and the years of trying to get at the truth without any aid or assistance,” she said.
“Above all though they wanted to achieve some sense of justice for their son. There were still many unanswered questions hanging in the air and they wanted a more public admission of fault by EMAS, if only to prevent the same thing happening to others in future.”
Director of Operations at EMAS, Richard Henderson, said: “We are sorry for the distress experienced by the family of Mr Bandy after his death in 2010.
“Over the past five years the family have been in contact with EMAS through their solicitor, and we have responded to each approach, with a claim settlement being made in November 2014.
“If the family wishes to discuss any outstanding queries they may have, we would be happy to meet them.
“Since 2010, there have been a number of significant changes and improvements made at EMAS. We have a new Trust Board, and a new management team in Northamptonshire with a dedicated focus to Duty of Candour. We are investing in additional frontline colleagues (over 200 recruited to our frontline in the last couple of months) and we are introducing more ambulances to our fleet.
“It is important to note that these improvements will benefit people in the East Midlands, though we acknowledge that this will be of little comfort to Mr Bandy’s family.”