JUST one porter was available for eight operating theatres at Hereford County Hospital, an inquest heard.

An inquest into the death of 88-year-old Mary Johnson heard that she was going to have an operation on July 23 last year but it could not go ahead due to porterage staffing issues.

The Burley Gate resident was taken to hospital on July 20 after she fell and fractured her femur.

Following a review with Darren Clark, trauma and orthopaedic consultant at Wye Valley Trust, on Saturday, July 21, it was decided she would have her operation on the Monday. Mr Clark said the operation did not take place on the Monday due to the lack of porters for theatre.

He said: "There was only one porter for all of the theatres" and added: "We had a whole eight theatres not working properly because of the lack of porters."

Coroner Mark Bricknell expressed his shock and asked if anything was being done but Mr Clark said he was not aware if there was.

Mrs Johnson was taken to the operating theatre the following day but as she was moved to the table she had a massive drop in blood pressure and the operation was abandoned.

She was taken to the critical care unit and died the following day on July 25.

Her daughter, Angela Barwell, said: "We just can't believe it really. We can't believe the operation didn't go ahead because there weren't enough porters."

Mr Clark apologised to the family as Mrs Johnson was starved prior to the operation on more than one occasion and he said this was due to confusion among ward staff.

Mrs Johnson was also not given a blood thinning drug which she was due to have, as ward staff incorrectly believed she could not have it before surgery.

A post mortem revealed she died from cardiorespiratory arrest and multi organ failure.

An incident report had not been provided to the coroner because Mrs Johnson's notes had been lost for two or three months.

Mr Bricknell said to the family: "I think you can take a degree of comfort in the fact that, despite the complications we have been made aware of, it is unlikely to have affected the outcome of a operation."

He said he is going to make a Prevention of Future Deaths Report regarding the starvation, drugs policy and porterage issues.

An accidental death was recorded.

A Wye Valley NHS Trust spokesman said: "On July 23 2018, all the operating theatres at Hereford County Hospital were running with full lists.

"To ensure the efficient transport of patients undergoing procedures, the Trust has a dedicated porter who works with our theatres teams. If further support is required, more porters can be called from across the hospital and are on hand within minutes.

"The response times and usage of porters is monitored and reviewed regularly to ensure the portering service meets the required standards.

"There are currently no vacancies for porters at the hospital and no operations have been cancelled due to the unavailability of a porter."