Doctor tells inquest the NHS 'didn't meet needs' of man hit by train after walking out of hospital
The health service did not meet the needs of a man who waited more than seven hours in a busy A&E for psychiatric assessment after he cut his wrists, a hospital doctor has said.
Dr John Boyle was speaking at the second day of the inquest into the death of 29-year-old Jonathan Magee, who died after he was hit by a train after walking out of the emergency department at Belfast City Hospital in the early hours of January 29, 2011.
Dr Boyle, from Newtownabbey, was responding to questions about the length of time Mr Magee waited in A&E for psychiatric assessment to determine if he would be admitted for specialist treatment for his declining mental health.
The inquest is examining the decision to delay the assessment until after Mr Magee was treated for the wounds to his wrists.
It is also looking at a further delay in the assessment, due to the fact the out-of-hours GP called to examine Mr Magee was held up by another emergency.
Dr Boyle told the hearing at Laganside Courts: "To be completely honest, four or five hours when someone is acutely unwell is probably too long. Ideally, I think around two or three hours would be enough."
Dr Boyle, who was one of the doctors treating Mr Magee prior to his death, said his mental health had declined and he was "acutely unwell" by the time of his death.
Summarising the days leading up to Mr Magee's death, Coroner Joe McGrisken said he had expressed a desire for treatment and attended medical appointments on a number of occasions.
However, in the middle of the admission process at the Mater Hospital on January 26, Mr Magee walked out, the coroner said.
He said Mr Magee (right) was then arrested at Cave Hill Country Park on the evening of January 28; his wrists were cut and he was talking about MI5 spies.
He was taken by ambulance to the City Hospital, followed by a police car, arriving at 6pm and walking out at 1.10am, Mr McGrisken said.
"Was that time period between 6pm and 1.15am, given the background, and the walking out of the Mater Hospital, to keep him waiting in the City Hospital reasonable," asked the coroner. Dr Boyle replied: "Did it meet his needs? No, it didn't meet his needs."
Mr McGrisken continued: "He got fed up?"
Dr Boyle said: "I agree."
The inquest also examined the fact that Mr Magee was not detained by the police officers who found him at Cave Hill.
Dr Boyle said he believed it would have been lawful for Mr Magee to be detained under the Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order, but questioned if it would have been appropriate under the circumstances.
He pointed to the fact that Mr Magee was co-operating with officers and medical personnel at the scene.
He continued: "I remember him well, he was probably quite personable.
Mr Magee left the A&E at the City Hospital at 1.15am on January 29. His remains were found at Knockmore Bridge near Lisburn the following afternoon.
The inquest is due to continue today.