THE family of a man who had a reaction to a common antibiotic and died within five months have slammed hospitals and said “time was wasted” before he became severely unwell.

Barry Butcher died at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester on August 28 last year, having suffered a drug-induced liver injury and liver failure.

The 69-year-old from Bognor, who was diabetic, had been prescribed the antibiotic Flucloxacillin in March after he suffered a fall and cut his big toe, which became infected.

Although his toe appeared to be getting better after a ten-day course of the antibiotics, by May his wife Shelagh was worried for him as he appeared yellow and had been passing strong urine.

At the inquest into his death at Edes' House in Chichester on Thursday, the court heard Barry was seen at St Richard's Hospital and it was agreed he would then have regular blood tests in the community.

The Argus: Barry ButcherBarry Butcher

However he was readmitted on July 3 due to poor kidney function - and it was found he had also developed hepatitis and sepsis, as well as a drug-induced liver injury due to the antibiotics.

Barry was transferred to Kings College Hospital in London to have a liver transplant, but it was later decided he was "not a suitable candidate" for the procedure.

There was a "high likelihood of a poor outcome", the court heard.

He was transferred back to St Richard's on August 18, having suffered tissue damage due to long periods in bed, and problems with his heart.

The court heard he was told on August 25 that he was dying - which also happened to be his wife Shelagh's birthday.

In her statement read out at the inquest, Shelagh said: "On my birthday we discovered Barry's dialysis had already been stopped, without any discussion.

“Then at 9.34pm on August 28 he slipped away.

“We had expressed our concerns to both hospitals and were repeatedly told it takes a long time to recover. We feel the hospitals could have done more, and much faster.

“They seemed to assume he would recover, as they said most people do, and it would just take time.

“A transplant was spoken about before he became very unwell. Why was time wasted?

“And if flucloxacillin can cause such an injury, why is it deemed safe?"

The court heard from Barry's GP Dr Elizabeth York at the Croft Practice in Barnham, Chichester, who described Flucloxacillin as a "bread and butter" antibiotic for infections.

The Argus:

"I would never have anticipated this happening and I'm extremely upset about what happened."

Dr York said the drug is "very established" and said the decision on which antibiotic to prescribe "would never come down to cost".

Senior coroner for West Sussex Penelope Schofield said it was "not clear" what the plan was for Barry following his transfer back to St Richard's Hospital from London, after his health had deteriorated further.

She said: "I do note the lack of communications around Barry’s treatment and his family did not know what the prognosis was and what the plan was for treatment."

The coroner concluded Barry had died a drug-related death from a prescription drug.

His cause of death was given as renal failure, brought about by liver failure due to a drug-induced liver injury.

Ms Schofield said she would be holding separate discussions with the hospitals on the lack of communication regarding Barry's treatment.

Barry's daughter Marie said his family had been left wondering whether he would still be alive, had he been considered for a liver transplant earlier.

She said: “My dad had never spent a day in hospital before this happened.

"We still have many unanswered questions.

"Dad told us he wanted people to know what had happened to him, and he didn't want another family to go through what we've been through.

"Many people take Flucloxacillin without a second thought. We have no idea why he reacted like that."

Barry, who had four children, 13 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, had recently sold his family home in Westergate.

The retired refuse loader was looking forward to moving into his new home in Frensham Avenue in Bognor, but had never got to spend a night there due to his health issues.

His wife Shelagh described him as a "kind and caring family man” who had “a big heart and a great sense of humour”.

She said: “He enjoyed doing what he could to help people out. He was independent and very friendly and he loved gardening, DIY and going shooting.

"August will always be a hard month. It will be my birthday and the month we lost him.

"We have all been let heartbroken and have lost an amazing man."