Third man dies after journey between hospitals

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A HOSPITAL patient died after being transported 50 miles to Blackpool for intensive care because of a shortage of specialist beds in Greater Manchester. John Moore, 40, was the third patient from the Manchester area to die in similar circumstances in a fortnight.

Mr Moore died on Saturday at the Victoria Infirmary, Blackpool, after a 90-minute ambulance drive from Hope Hospital, Salford, where he had suffered a heart attack.

A hospital spokesman said Mr Moore's death had been attributed by a pathologist to pneumonia and liver disease. But Bill Sang, chief executive of Hope Hospital, said Mr Moore had needed intensive care 'if he was to have any hope of survival'. Hope Hospital's six intensive care beds had been full.

Mr Moore's death follows those of Michael Walsh, 50, an asthmatic who was also transferred to Blackpool when intensive care beds were full at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, and Laurence Gardner, 61, from Sale, who died last week after being sent to Blackpool when Trafford General Hospital's intensive care beds were full.

A spokeswoman for the North Western Regional Health Authority said one hospital controlled the 70 beds in the region's 15 intensive care units, and Blackpool on each occasion had been the nearest available bed. Asked whether three deaths in a fortnight did not indicate a clear shortage of facilities, the region said: 'It is a matter for each district health authority to decide what level of intensive care provision it wants to buy. That is the way it works now.'

Community Health Councils in the region have described the situation as 'appalling'. Chris Dabbs, chief officer of Salford CHC, said: 'Patients are being taken 50 miles to Blackpool when Liverpool is only 20 miles down the road. But we have a contract with Blackpool and we don't have one with Liverpool, which is in a different region. It is ridiculous.'