Retired newsagent died after his wheelchair tipped over in the back of a G4S ambulance

By Paul Milligan



The jury at Westminster Magistrates Court heard that ambulance driver John Garner's G4S training manual had not been refreshed since 2009

A retired newsagent died after his unsecured wheelchair tipped over in the back of a G4S ambulance that the driver had been poorly trained to use, an inquest jury has found. 

Double amputee Palaniappan Thevarayan, 47, suffered fatal head injuries when his wheelchair came loose from the floor clamp in the back of the vehicle taking him to hospital. 

Driver John Garner and fellow G4S staff were insufficiently trained to transport hundreds of patients from their homes to clinics and hospitals across London and the southeast.

The jury at Westminster Magistrates Court ruled Mr Thevarayan had not been securely clamped into the back of the ambulance on May 4, 2011, when he fell. 

'At approximately Palaniappan Thevarayan's wheelchair tipped backwards and he sustained a head injury', the jury said in its narrative verdict. 

'During the journey, Palaniappan Thevarayan's wheelchair was attached to the ambulance floor by ratchet clamps. Palaniappan Thevarayan's wheelchair was not securely restrained.' 

After hearing that Mr Garner's manual handling training had not been refreshed since 2009, jurors decided: 'Patient transport service staff were not sufficiently trained in the safe transportation of patients by ambulance.'


Mr Thevarayan, who moved to the UK from India, had to have both his legs amputated after circulation problems brought on by his diabetes. 

He was undergoing three times a week dialysis treatment for kidney failure, but was nearing the top of the transplant list when he died, the inquest was told.  He was also in line to have a prosthetic leg fitted. 

Mr Garner, an employee at G4S since 2005, was transferring Mr Thevarayan to St Helier Hospital, in Sutton, Surrey, from a dialysis centre in Epsom after problems with a blocked catheter. 

His boss Gareth Philips, told the hearing Mr Garner had reported the incident to him that afternoon, but said the driver believed there was no need to tell the hospital because the patient was 'laughing and joking'.


Palaniappan Thevarayan's wife and full-time carer Nirmala told the inquest her husband was given a 50:50 chance of survival if operated on immediately after the injury

'He said the patient was fine and there was nothing to worry about', he said. 'I asked if he escalated it to the renal department, to say he had banged his head, and he said no.' 

Medical evidence showed Mr Thevarayan had suffered a subdural haemotoma prior to the fall in the back of the ambulance. 'This made Palaniappan Thevarayan vulnerable to further subdural haemotoma', they ruled.

Mr Thevarayan wife and full-time carer Nirmala told the inquest she wanted answers about his treatment by G4S and why it took so long to get him into surgery.

She said her husband was given a 50/50 chance of survival if operated on immediately after the injury, but nearly six hours passed before he went for surgery. 

'I want to know why they didn't look after him properly', she said. 'And in hospital, why did they take so long to treat him?'

Despite not being told about the fall, nurses soon notcied Mr Thevarayan's condition was deteriorating shortly after he arrived at St Helier Hospital, at around 4.30pm. 

His wife said she was told he was seriously ill when she arrived at hospital at 7.,45pm, but he did not go into surgery until 2am, and died the following day. 

Several witnesses who saw Mr Thevarayan prior to his fall in the ambulance said he seemed his 'usual cheerful self' and showed no signs of an underlying injury. 

The jury ruled he had suffered previous head injuries, though there were no symptoms, and his chronic renal failure and other health problems contributed to his death. 

Recording a narrative verdict, the jury ruled: 'At an unknown date prior to May 4 2011, Palaniappan Thevarayan sustained a subdural haemotoma. 

'At approximately 4pm on May 4, 2011, Palaniappan Thevarayan sustained a head injury whilst travelling by ambulance from Epsom Dialysis Centre to St Helier Hospital, when his wheelchair tipped backwards. Consequently Palaniappan Thevarayan suffered an acute subdural haemotoma.' 

Assistant deputy coroner Kevin McLoughlin added, to Mrs Thevarayan and her son and daughter who sat through the four-day inquest: 'I pay tribute to the calm dignity which you and your family have conducted yourself through what must have been heart-breaking evidence.' 

Mr Thevarayan, of Woking, Surrey, died of an acute chronic subdural haemotoma and head injury, contributed to by chronic renal failure and diabetes.

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

G4S isn't this the crowd and prevented a soldier wearing her British uniform flying to america, we obviously pay people for incompetence in this country.

Click to rate     Rating   317

Why on earth were they using"rachet clamps"?. The use of such equipment has been bad practice for years. They should be using 4 point webbing restraints...and they'll need training in the use thereof. This incident was so avoidable.

Click to rate     Rating   191

g4s employ low paid personell with little regard to proficiency profit is their motive care is not they have screwed up on all their contracts the prison service ones and look how they did for the olympics we had to deploy troops to do their jobs

Click to rate     Rating   219

Recently I had to call an ambulance to big store for my mother who collapsed. A single paramedic arrived driving a full sized ambulance and took her in with me to the back to do obs. Mum recovered and seems was faint due to ear problems but as I left her with him to go and get my shopping I stepped out of the back and caught myself just in time as he had not let down the steps..would have been another casualty. The poor man was overwhelmed and working alone..why?

Click to rate     Rating   121

WHY do we hand contracts to private for profit corporations that time and again FAIL to provide the service they are over paid for. Government and big business are one and the same.

Click to rate     Rating   236

There's going to be a lot of these stories.

Click to rate     Rating   175

Why are the incompetent G4S involved in another public service, a complete bunch of cowboys, as this story shows. Get the private sector out of public services

Click to rate     Rating   249

so much for privatisation

Click to rate     Rating   152

Why do sane people use G4S? Haven't we suffered enough from these money-grubbing incompetent louts? Wait until they start running the prison system, then we'll see an influx of criminals into our homes.

Click to rate     Rating   185

G4S are useless. Whilst outside a hospital in Surrey in my NHS ambulance, one of their Patient Transport Service staff actually came up to me and my colleague to see if they could borrow a wheelchair from us as apparently they didn't carry one. When we looked inside the G4S ambulance the only evidence of any medical equipment was a Halfords First Aid box! This is what happens when the NHS is put out to the cheapest tender.

Click to rate     Rating   271

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