Man saw GP and was ‘told he was fit to fly’ before dying in Portugal

Businessman, 57, who saw GP because he was feeling unwell was ‘told he was fit to fly and to go and relax’ just days before he died after emergency heart by-pass surgery on holiday in Portugal

  • Travel firm boss David Robinson was told that his discomfort could be anxiety
  • GP says she didn’t discuss flying and his symptoms did not evidence a coronary 
  • Doctors in Portugal allegedly said he’d been having heart problems for five days 
  • Died following by-pass surgery and his wife today told inquest of her heartbreak  

David Robinson (pictured) died in Portugal after a GP allegedly told him he could go on holiday 

A British tourist died on the Algarve just days after a doctor back home allegedly didn’t realise he was having a coronary and said: ‘Go away, relax, enjoy your holiday.’

David Robinson, 57, went to his local surgery after he started feeling unwell 48 hours before he was due to fly to Portugal with his wife, Joanne Salt-Robinson.

She told a coroner’s court the locum GP they saw said there was no reason why they shouldn’t go away and told him he to come in for some tests on his return.

But Mr Robinson died after surgeons abroad were forced to perform an emergency triple by-pass hours after they arrived in the country, an inquest heard.

Mrs Salt-Robinson, 50, said she took her husband to the doctor before their holiday after telling him that if he didn’t go for a check up she would cancel their trip.

She told Chesterfield Coroner’s Court they saw Dr Natasha Dhamija who after carrying out some basic health checks said there was no reason why he couldn’t fly.

However the medic claims she saw Mr Robinson alone and was never asked about his fitness for air travel.

The coach driver and his wife were due to fly out on August 31 2014, but he had been complaining of shortness of breath and a pain in his jaw for several days.

Mr Robinson (pictured at his wedding with wife Joanne) was reportedly told by doctors in Portugal that he’d been having heart problems for days 

He had collapsed at home several months before. His doctor and hospital consultants said he was suffering from low blood pressure, but tests on his heart showed no major issues.

The father-of-one, who ran his own travel firm, also visited doctors three months before his death complaining of heartburn and had been prescribed an anti-acid medication.

His teaching assistant wife said two days before their holiday she rang Wheatbridge Surgery in Chesterfield to make an emergency appointment for her husband.

Mrs Salt-Robinson (pictured with her late husband) says that she discussed flying with the GP, but the doctor denies it 

‘We sat together opposite the doctor and I told her I had made Dave come in because we were going away,’ she said.

‘She asked him how he was feeling and he said he had a woozy feeling in his head, pain in his jaw and a strange sensation in his chest.

‘She took his blood pressure and said it was extremely low. I mentioned his collapse at Christmas and she said some people can just suffer from it.

‘The doctor said it could be anxiety, but I disagreed. I said: “No, he’s so laid back he’s horizontal!” I asked her if he could go for an ECG, but she said that wasn’t necessary.’

Mrs Salt-Robinson, 50, said she pointed out there was a history of heart trouble in her husband’s family.

‘At the end I asked her if we should go on holiday and she said: “He’s fit to fly. Go away and enjoy your holiday, go away and relax and when you get back, we’ll do some blood tests.”‘

On the Sunday they flew to Portugal she said her husband was ‘still not himself’ and later complained he could not lie down in bed because of indigestion.

By the Tuesday she was so worried about him she took him to a clinic in the resort of Alvor.

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Mrs Salt-Robinson said: ‘I told the doctor: “I think he’s having a heart attack.” He said: “I think you’re right.”‘

He was rushed to the local hospital and taken into A&E and hooked up to monitors.

His wife said: ‘I went into his cubicle and he was really tearful. He said: “They’ve told me I’m having a heart attack, they said it’s been ongoing since last Friday!”‘

Tests revealed his arteries were badly blocked and doctors said he would need to undergo by-pass surgery but would need to be transferred to another hospital.

After two days spent wrangling with their insurance company over the £30,000 cost of the procedure, Mr Robinson was finally taken the 46 miles to a hospital in Faro by ambulance where he underwent almost five hours of surgery.

Despite initially responding well he died in the early hours of Monday, September 8, 2014, four days after the operation. Mrs Salt-Robinson heard the tragic news over the phone.

‘They said he’d been laughing and joking one minute and the next minute he went into cardiac arrest,’ she said. ‘They’d tried to resuscitate him for 40 minutes but couldn’t.’

Paying tribute to her late husband, who she had married just over a year before his death, Mrs Salt-Robinson said: ‘He loved life and he loved everybody. He always said he was living the dream.’

Dr Natasha Dhamija said she did not think the symptoms he presented with were cardiac-caused and she did not recall a discussion about him going on holiday.

She told the inquest: ‘I didn’t have a diagnosis to give to Mr Robinson. At no point did I think it was a cardiac cause because of the symptoms he’d presented with. I felt the absence of chest pain was important.’

Derbyshire’s Assistant Coroner Kathryn Hayes asked her: ‘Was there a discussion about whether Mr Robinson was fit to fly? Can you recall any discussion about him going on holiday?’

Dr Dhamija replied: ‘No.’ She added that she could not recall the patient’s wife being present at the appointment.

When she was asked about their different versions of events Mrs Salt-Robinson told the court: ‘I can assure you I was there. I have to deal with Dave’s death everyday, I have no reason to lie.’

The inquest continues.


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