Coroner’s plea after man went untreated

Scarborough Hospital Reception feature.Entrance to Hospital.Picture Richard Ponter 122550g
Scarborough Hospital Reception feature.Entrance to Hospital.Picture Richard Ponter 122550g
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A coroner has slammed Scarborough Hospital after a suicidal man was found dead at home - two days after waiting nearly five hours to be seen in Accident and Emergency without success.

Craig Lewis, 30, had been taken to the hospital by Police on May 28 this year after they were called to his address following a failed suicide attempt.

Picture: Lorne Campbell  / Guzelian'North Yorkshire East coroner Michael Oakley who said at an inquest held in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, on Tuesday 6 March 2012, of a soldier killed in Afghanistan, that the Taliban fighters had progressed from `rudimentary to sophisticated' warfare.'WORDS BY MARK BRANAGAN (GUZELIAN)'PICTURE TAKEN ON TUESDAY 6 MARCH 2012

Picture: Lorne Campbell / Guzelian'North Yorkshire East coroner Michael Oakley who said at an inquest held in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, on Tuesday 6 March 2012, of a soldier killed in Afghanistan, that the Taliban fighters had progressed from `rudimentary to sophisticated' warfare.'WORDS BY MARK BRANAGAN (GUZELIAN)'PICTURE TAKEN ON TUESDAY 6 MARCH 2012

Mr Lewis voluntarily agreed to go with officers to A&E to seek help, arriving at 6.30pm after which the police left.

However, despite officers explaining to nurses why they had brought Mr Lewis, he was not called to be seen until after 11pm - by which time he left.

Mr Lewis, who was a father of two, was found dead at home in Queens Terrace two days later having hanged himself.

During his inquest at Scarborough County Court coroner Michael Oakley has urged Scarborough Hospital to improve communications with patients after he heard Mr Lewis was not told at any time when he might be seen.

Speaking at the inquest was nursing sister Claire Grover who spoke with Mr Lewis when he arrived at the hospital.

She said: “I asked him if he was willing to wait in the department as we were very busy, the waiting area was full, ambulances were queuing outside and we had someone in resuscitation, and he was. We don’t tell people how long they might have to wait as it changes.”

Mr Oakley questioned nurse Grove as to why the hospital didn’t have a “more sophisticated method of giving information to the public as to how long they may have to wait”.

She replied: “Because it changes so often.”

The inquest also heard from sister Christine Hughes. She confirmed she was made aware of Mr Lewis’ situation when she took over from nurse Grover at 8pm, but that she wasn’t able to call him until 11pm.

When he didn’t appear the receptionist told her Mr Lewis had signed out just over an hour earlier. Sister Hughes told the coroner she then phoned police, who went to check on Mr Lewis at home. PC Lee Smith, who spoke at the inquest, told the coroner Mr Lewis assured him he was ok and he turned down police assistance.

Police were again called two days later after his former partner was unable to make contact.

Recording a verdict that Mr Lewis killed himself, Mr Oakley said: “In the days leading up to him being found dead he had clearly made an attempt on taking his own life. As a result the police attended. They clearly had been very helpful to him and took him up to the hospital.

“He has then waited for what seems a very, very long period of time. It does strike me that perhaps the A&E at Scarborough Hospital would have a better system. I appreciated that it might have been busy but I wouldn’t have been prepared to sit there for the length of time that Mr Lewis had to sit there.

“It would be nice to have information in this day and age; communication is all important. I would hope that A&E department looks at their systems to see that better communications are given to patients such as Mr Lewis.”

Following the inquest the Hospital issued an apology to Mr Lewis’ family. A spokesperson for York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “We would like to offer our sincere sympathies to the family of Mr Lewis. Our staff have cooperated fully with the coroner’s investigation and we will ensure that the A&E Department considers the issues raised by the coroner regarding the communication of waiting times.”