Cyclist’s father criticises doctor over his death

Peter Hinchliffe. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
Peter Hinchliffe. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
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The GP father of a keen cyclist who tragically died from a heart defect just months after getting married has claimed that doctors missed chances to diagnose his condition.

Fitness instructor Peter Hinchliffe, 33, collapsed and died while out riding more than three years ago.

Now his family have told an inquest that his death was avoidable and opportunities were missed to give potentially life-saving treatment during tests in the months prior to his death.

They are calling for NHS health chiefs to better educate doctors about rare heart conditions in a bid to reduce the number of sudden deaths in other young people.

Mr Hinchliffe’s father Robert, who is a retired GP said: “It is discussed as though what happened to Peter was inevitable, but it was completely avoidable.”

Doncaster Coroner’s Court heard Mr Hinchliffe had no health problems until he complained of palpitations during a race in 2006. However medical tests revealed no clear abnormalities and he continued his cycling career, being named Dinnington Racing Club rider of the year in 2009.

He collapsed again in May 2010 while on a training ride in Doncaster. He told doctors he suffered a dizzy spell, had heart palpitations, and blacked out before crashing into a hedge.

The 33-year-old, from Balby, underwent a series of tests and fitness examinations for Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy — a rare heart condition which can cause sudden cardiac arrest in young people. In evidence, Dr Hinchliffe claimed these tests revealed abnormalities in his son’s heart. But he said a doctor who operates a private practice in Sheffield did not diagnose the condition. Dr Hinchliffe added that his son could have been fitted with an automated external defibrillator, which may have saved his life.

The inquest heard Mr Hinchcliffe had stopped competitive cycling but continued to ride for leisure. He collapsed while cycling alone near Doncaster Racecourse on September 11, 2010, and died in Doncaster Royal Infirmary. This came just months after marrying partner Rebecca.

A post-mortem examination ruled he died from ARVC.

The doctor at the private practice, Dr John West, said an ECG test had shown one single minor abnormality, but there usually needed to be at least four before an ARVC diagnosis could be made.

He said a defibrillator could not be fitted before a diagnosis made. Dr West said: “Mr Hinchliffe would have had all the investigations available. He died before they were completed.”

The inquest was adjourned until next week.