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Doctor at sea wins plea

(First Edition)

CHANNEL ferry operators may be forced to carry extra medical equipment as a result of an incident, highlighted in the Independent on Sunday last month, in which a young man nearly bled to death, writes Christian Wolmar.

Eighteen-year-old Christopher Wright, travelling on a Stena Sealink ferry between Cherbourg and Southampton, was saved by a casualty doctor who was a fellow passenger.

Dr Julie Hall managed to stem bleeding from Mr Wright's throat - caused by the recent removal of his tonsils - but complained later that he nearly died because the ship did not have equipment to set up a saline drip to replace body fluid when there is heavy blood loss.

Dr Hall also complained about the failure of the crew on the ship, the Stena Normandy, to find the equipment that was on board. After a couple of days in intensive care, Mr Wright made a full recovery.

The chief medical adviser of the Department of Transport, Dr John Taylor, has now written to Dr Hall to say he is recommending that regulations should be changed so that extra equipment, including gelatine infusion solution for setting up drips and a special suction pump for clearing throats, would have to be carried. Ship owners and trade unions are being consulted about the recommendations which, if agreed by the Department, will become mandatory on all British registered shipping. Regulations including these proposals are likely to be issued this year.

Although Stena's ships are registered in the Bahamas, the company said that it followed UK regulations and would implement any changes.