An ambulance was wrongly sent to Nottingham after a father rang 999 reporting his son was dying of an overdose in Cornwall, an inquest has heard.
Following a “difficult sequence of events” at the family home in Liskeard, Ian Bean rang his estranged, adoptive father, Professor Philip Bean, in Nottingham.
The criminologist told the inquest today (Wednesday, October 9) at Truro’s Health & Wellbeing Innovation Centre that his 46-year-old son rang him blaming him as one of the reasons for the predicament he found himself in.
He told his father he had taken an overdose of Oramorph, the morphine medication he was prescribed for acute pancreatitis, which was caused by heavy drinking.
Mr Bean told his father he was dying.
The professor told the inquest: “He told me he had taken an overdose of morphine and was dying. The call was to accuse me of failing him and that I was the cause of his death.
“The problem I had was I did not want to get him off the phone quickly as it would confirm in his mind that I was a rejecting parent, but I wanted him off the phone so I could call an ambulance.”
Prof Bean called East Midlands Ambulance Service and told the operator his son lived in Liskeard and needed urgent medical attention, giving them the address.
“Mistakes were clearly made because the ambulance turned up at my house,” he said. “It was such an elementary mistake to make. An ambulance crewman said there had clearly been a mistake and they would deal with it.”
Mr Bean was found unconscious by police and paramedics in the family home in St Martins Court and had a fatal heart attack in his bedroom soon after they arrived.
Andrew Cox, acting senior coroner for Cornwall, agreed with Prof Bean that it was a “glaring failure” by the ambulance service but the mistake would not have affected events in Liskeard, where paramedics were on the scene.
He said he would write to East Midlands Ambulance Service asking it to review its procedure to ensure “something like this doesn’t happen again”.
Prof Bean pointed out that it was probably a mistake made by an individual rather than the service itself.
“That does not matter when it comes to preventing future death regulations are concerned,” replied the coroner.
Following the inquest, Karen Sullivan, associate director of corporate services at East Midlands Ambulance Service, told Cornwall Live: “We would like to extend our condolences to Ian’s family at this sad time.
“As soon as we received the 999 call from Professor Bean, our control room passed the information to our colleagues at South Western Ambulance Service so that an ambulance could be dispatched to Ian’s address in Liskeard.
“Due to human error, a second ambulance was accidentally sent to the address from which the 999 call was made. This did not delay getting help to Ian.
“We will thoroughly review any recommendations made by the coroner and make changes to our procedures where necessary.”
The inquest heard that Mr Bean, who was unemployed, was afflicted by various medical ailments including lung disease, diabetes, pancreatitis and depression.
He had told his common-law wife Mary Jane Bean that he had suffered a brain injury after going through the windscreen of his car while chasing joyriders as a police officer in Nottingham.
However, his father verified that this was “fantasy” and he had only been a special constable for about four weeks before being dismissed for a misdemeanour.
The injury was actually caused when he deliberately drove his car into another in what Prof Bean said was a suicide attempt.
The father-of-four, who had only had one job in his life as a night watchman for a few weeks, became agitated and distressed after what the coroner described as a “difficult sequence of events” at the family home he shared with Mrs Bean, their two children and two older children from Mrs Bean’s previous relationship.
Mr Bean told his wife he was unhappy to find himself with so many ailments at the age of 46.
The events on April 14, 2018, culminated in police and paramedics being called to the house after Mr Bean’s 22-year-old common-law step-daughter was assaulted.
Mr Bean had been drinking whisky, swigging from bottles of morphine medication and self-harming.
He told his family he would use a knife on the emergency services if they were called.
“In these circumstances, if the police had stormed the property and an officer had been stabbed I would have concerns about that,” said Mr Cox. “Conversations were had about how to diffuse the situation which would lead to a calm outcome.”
Mr Cox praised the police for their handling of the situation.
The police investigation revealed that Mr Bean had rung members of his family to say goodbye.
Mr Cox found that Mr Bean had died as a result of suicide after overdosing on Oramporph, his morphine medication. The cause of death was given as multi-drug toxicity and pulmonary disease.
There was a discussion during the inquest, which was attended by Mr Bean’s GP, Ben Basterfield, from Oak Tree Surgery in Liskeard, about the level of morphine he had been prescribed, which was within the designated safe limits.
Mr Cox asked the GP practice to review the length of time patients are prescribed opiate medication and to ascertain whether “there is still a perceived clinical benefit which justifies the prescription”.
He congratulated the practice for carrying out a review of its prescription policy following the death of Mr Bean.
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