A doctor was busy “phoning his wife” when he declined to help calm down a patient at the Carseview Centre, a court heard.
A fatal accident inquiry is being held into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dale Thomson, 28, who took his own life on January 27 2015, after coming into contact with the medical centre twice in previous days.
The father-of-one was a voluntary admission on January 8 2015, but when he was told a consultant wouldn’t be able to see him until January 12 he went into a fit of rage.
Nurse Gail Taylor, 60, who has worked at Carseview for 14 years, told the hearing Dale was angry and lashing out at the exit, shouting: “Let me out of this ******* place, get me a doctor, you can’t keep me here.”
She added: “It was a bit scary really. I didn’t know if Dale would have harmed himself. We were concerned for his safety, the safety of other patients and staff as well.”
Ms Taylor said that consultant Dr George Howson — who could see from his office that Dale was lashing out — was twice asked if he could talk to Dale as the patient was requesting to speak to a doctor.
The court heard that on one occasion Dr Howson was phoning his wife at the time.
The nurse said that both times he said that Dale’s situation was for a “junior doctor” to attend to.
But the on-call junior doctor at the time was dealing with a patient at Kingsway Medical Centre and couldn’t immediately see to Dale.
Solicitor Danny Devine, representing Dale’s family, said: “Dr Howson had just finished with a patient?”
Ms Taylor said: “He heard and saw what was going on and that’s why we asked if he could see him.”
Mr Devine said: “So you then ask him if he can have a word with Dale because Dale is shouting and screaming that he wants to see a doctor and there’s a doctor right there?” Ms Taylor said: “Yes.”
The nurses did have the option of using their “nursing holding power” to detain Dale in the centre, but Ms Taylor said they didn’t want to “patronise” the Charleston dad. Mr Devine prompted: “That might have made Mr Thomson worse.” The nurse replied: “Yes.”
Ms Taylor was then questioned by Claire Raftery, representing Dr Howson — who has yet to give evidence at the FAI. Ms Raftery asked what Dr Howson had been doing when they asked him to see Dale.
Ms Taylor said: “He was actually phoning his wife.”
Ms Raftery said: “He would have other tasks to do — he may have other patients to go and see?”
Ms Taylor said: “I don’t know.” Ms Raftery said: “It is a junior doctor’s role to deal with this?”
Ms Taylor said: “Not necessarily.”
Dale was allowed by another doctor to leave Carseview later that evening.
He was further assessed at the hospital on January 23, but was again allowed to leave and took his own life at his Charleston home on January 27.