A 41-year-old man died after a system error meant he was not put on the waiting list for lifesaving treatment. 

Christopher Baker, an IT professional from Romford, died of heart failure in 2019. 

He was under the care of cardiologists at St Bartholomew’s Hospital after being diagnosed with inherited cardiomyopathy in 2015. 

His medical team said he would benefit from being fitted with a device that prevents heart attacks but due to system errors he was never put on the waiting list. 

Heidi Page, his partner of 16 years, said: “Christopher fell through the system, not once but twice, at a time when he needed it the most.   

“If you met Christopher, you would never forget him, he was so funny, loving and kind. We’d planned our future together but that’s been taken away and I’ll have to do so much on my own.” 

Barts Health NHS Trust have admitted that his death was avoidable following a successful medical negligence case. 

A spokesperson for the trust said: “We are deeply sorry for the care provided to Mr Baker which fell short of our high standards. 

“We have learnt from this and taken steps to ensure it does not happen again.” 

Romford Recorder: Christopher and HeidiChristopher and Heidi (Image: Heidi Page)

'We trusted the hospital’ 

Chris was diagnosed with heart failure in 2015, with genetic testing confirming his condition was inherited. 

Heidi said: “At first we thought he just had a really bad chest infection. Eventually we went to A&E as he had trouble breathing. He had so many tests and was eventually diagnosed with heart issues. It was a shock as he was so young.”   

He was referred to St Bartholomew's Hospital with the view to fitting an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) which sends electrical pulses to regulate the heart and prevent cardiac arrest.    

He was due to attend the hospital for a heart test in April 2019 but he became ill shortly before and told them he would not be able to attend. 

While the trust logged the cancelled appointment, no steps were taken to arrange a new one and his consultant was not informed. 

Three months later his GP wrote to the trust regarding another matter and it was then that his team at the hospital realised he had not attended for the heart test. 

A new appointment was made in August and following that it was agreed that he would benefit from an ICD implant. 

However, Christopher was never placed on the waiting list and his GP informed that a decision had been made for the heart procedure to go-ahead.   

Heidi said: “We discussed it after his appointment and agreed that it would be a brilliant thing to have the device; we trusted the hospital and we thought that with some lifestyle changes we would still have a good life together.   

“We even joked about it, how he would set off security alarms. We had no idea that he wasn’t on the waiting list. He was still working and enjoying fishing and life with our family and our close circle of friends.” 

Romford Recorder: Heidi (left) said her last words to Christopher (right) were have a good day, I love youHeidi (left) said her last words to Christopher (right) were have a good day, I love you (Image: Heidi Page)

‘My last words were have a good day, I love you’ 

On December 7, 2019, Christopher suffered a cardiac arrest and died.

Heidi said: “Christopher was going off fishing that morning and my last words to him were ‘have a good day, I love you.’ I’d been wrapping the Christmas presents and was cooking when the police called at 4.30pm to tell me he’d died at the lake. I couldn’t take it in. 

“The funeral was unbelievable there were so many people, there were loudspeakers outside for all those who came; it was a real celebration of his life, it was beautiful.”  

Barts Health NHS Trust later contacted Heidi to explain the waiting list error. 

Heidi said: “I was speechless; it was a massive shock. They said they were now changing the way they did things, but I had so many questions and I didn’t feel like I was getting answers.  

“Eventually I just thought, ‘you owe Christopher an apology, you owe me an apology,’ because they knew he could still be alive today.” 

She instructed Hudgell Solicitors and her case was taken up by Matthew Gascoyne, a medical negligence lawyer.   

In an out-of-court settlement Barts Health NHS Trust admitted the failings and agreed damages of £310,000. 

Her legal team said: “The medical team who were looking after him knew he was ill and they knew fitting him with an ICD could save his life, but the tragedy is, no-one ensured that he was put on the waiting list.  

“Lessons must be learnt, and I hope the trust, now it has identified its failings, ensures others do not fall through the system.” 

Barts Health NHS Trust said said they are deeply sorry and that they have learnt from this to ensure it does not happen again. 

Heidi said: “I hope others don’t have to experience what I’ve been through. These sorts of mistakes shouldn’t happen again.  

“They have acknowledged our loss. My impact statement to them was that Christopher was my soulmate, a father to my children and a grandad too. They adored him and he adored them. He’ll always be with us and won’t be forgotten.”