A soul singer with sickle cell anaemia was in so much pain that he “threw furniture” before dying after a morphine overdose due to neglect by hospital staff.
Tyrone Airey, who recorded under the name Tai Malone, had been rushed to Northwick Park Hospital’s A&E on March 16 this year following a particularly bad sickle cell flare-up.
The 46-year-old, who lived near Wembley Stadium, was born with the hereditary condition which mainly affects people of African or Caribbean heritage.
An inquest at Barnet Coroner’s Court heard how nursing staff had insufficient training to manage and monitor Tyrone and his PCA pump – a device used to allow a person in pain to administer their own pain relief, My London reports.
This resulted in the popular singer-songwriter dying from the toxic effects of a morphine overdose.
A coroner ruled that the staff did not follow the required monitoring and escalation for pain scores or of the monitoring of blood oxygen saturations on air.
The local trust guidance and national guidelines for acute pain associated with sickle cell disease were also not adhered to.
Tyrone started his music career in his 30s and was popular on the independent and neo soul music scene with hit tracks including ‘Memories’ and ‘Rave it out’.
His devastated mum has blasted the North London hospital for failing to ensure her son was in safe hands.
Speaking to MyLondon, Lorraine Airey, who lives in Essex, said: “Tyrone lived live to the absolute fullest despite having sickle cell, but he was never able to live a normal life or hold down a job because of it.
“It would flare up really badly up to four times a year, and there would be no alternative but to take him into A&E. The chest and back pain was excruciating.
“He was a very happy and quite jovial person. And a very handsome and creative young man.
“But sickle cell affected him massively growing up. He first had a flare-up when he was just four years old and he couldn’t control the pain.
“He used to make and sell custom jewellery. He was also very talented with his writing and of course his singing, which he only discovered that he had a talent for in his 30s. And he loved to travel all over, including places like Egypt, Turkey and the Caribbean.
“This could have been avoided. He wouldn’t have died if it wasn’t for the morphine overdose which sent him into cardiac arrest.
“He was really up and coming and he was starting to become well known in his music career. This should never have happened.”
Sufferers of sickle cell produce unusually shaped red blood cells that can cause problems because they do not live as long as healthy blood cells, which can also block blood vessels.
Treatment can help manage many of the symptoms but there is no cure, and although there is one charity, The Sickle Cell Society, who campaign to raise awareness of the condition, they do not receive any Government funding and rely instead solely on the kindness and generosity of donors.
Lorraine added: “I hope that this can be taken seriously so that Tyrone’s untimely death was not in vain.
“Sickle cell disease recognition and treatment training ought to be carried out across all wards in all NHS trusts.
“Sickle cell disease has been around for far too long for these patients to continue to suffer as they do when they have no choice but to go into hospitals.”
Recording a conclusion of negligent, the coroner said that this was the second time a matter like this had been brought before them in the court, making reference to Evan Smith, who died aged 22 in North Middlesex Hospital in Edmonton back in 2019.
He ordered the hospital to make improvements within the next 28 days to ensure all staff are fully trained on how to treat patients with the disease.
Dr Jon Baker, chief medical officer at London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “We offer our sincere condolences and unreserved apologies to Mr Airey’s family.
“We have carried out an internal investigation into the care and treatment Mr Airey received and fully accept that his care fell below the standards we would expect.
“The Trust has taken on board all the concerns raised by the coroner along with recommendations, to learn from what has happened to Mr Airey and prevent it from happening again.”
More information about sickle cell disease can be found on the NHS website.