Coroner’s criticism after man’s death

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A SCARBOROUGH coroner is calling for a doctors’ surgery to tighten up its emergency procedures after a cry for help from a “suicidal” man was not passed on for more than three hours.

Andrew Horwell, a 42-year-old from Woodlands Walk, was found hanging at his home in April and Micheal Oakley, the coroner for the Scarborough area, heard he had become more and more depressed after the death of his partner.

Lionel Mann, a neighbour who is in his 80s, had contacted Mr Horwell’s GP at 8.30am and said that his friend needed to see a doctor urgently because he was suicidal.

But, because he could not take him to the surgery, or to Scarborough Hospital, he was told that a doctor could visit him at lunchtime – he found Mr Horwell hanging in a utility room later that day at 11am.

He said: “I just glanced to the right and he was hanging there. The only thing I could do was to ring for the ambulance and the police. They were there in pretty quick time – I wish the doctor had been as quick.”

He added that Mr Horwell had said he was going to cut his wrists during a visit earlier that day. He said: “I said ‘don’t be silly I can’t stand the sight of blood’.”

Emma Derbicz, an addictions nurse, had been treating Mr Horwell for problems with alcohol and said that following the death of his partner his drinking increased and he missed an appointment.

She added: “He was drinking to excess. When I saw him he said he hadn’t had a drink for four days prior to the appointment. He said he was feeling a lot better.”

Andrew Volans, a consultant in emergency medicine at Scarborough Hospital, said Mr Horwell was taken by ambulance to the hospital during the early hours the day before he died.

He said: “He’d been drinking solidly for three weeks and was feeling depressed. He had lost his partner five weeks previously.”

Mr Volans added that he was complaining of abdominal pains, had a slightly raised heart rate and his sugar levels were low. He said: “He’d not been looking after himself. He was drinking a bottle of rum and a bottle of cider every day.”

Dr Shahid Rasheed, of the Scarborough Medical Group, in Esplanade Road, said he only received the message when he finished his other appointments at 11.40am.

Mr Oakley ruled that Mr Horwell had killed himself. He said: “There were procedures at that practice which seem to me to call into question whether somebody should have done something earlier about Mr Horwell. We know from Mr Mann that he was in a very depressed state. The surgery could have got assistance from the emergency services.”