Family told no doctor was available

FAMILY members of a man who died in hospital three days after he was transferred from a Dublin nursing home yesterday expressed concern that when they found their brother unwell in the home they were told a doctor would not be available until the following day.

William “Liam” Spenser, 61, of Newpark Care Centre, The Ward, Co Dublin, was transferred to James Connolly Memorial Hospital, Blanchardstown, by ambulance on December 12, 2007, after family members who were worried about him approached a community mental health nurse, attached to St Brendan’s Hospital.

His brother-in-law, Seamus Lannigan, told an inquest into Mr Spenser’s death at Dublin County Coroner’s Court yesterday that when relatives visited him on December 12 they found him semiconscious in an armchair and when they asked if he could see a doctor they were told not until the following day.

Mr Spenser, who had a history of schizophrenia, had been found on the floor by staff on the morning of December 12, but it was not known how long he had been there.

Director of nursing at the facility, Rita Gallagher, said there are two hourly checks on residents. She said a doctor is always available. GP, Dr Robert Nelson, said neither he nor the locum were contacted.

Mr Spenser’s siblings approached community mental health nurse Frank Hynes. Mr Hynes, who had spoken with Ms Gallagher earlier that day in relation to Mr Spenser, said he was agitated and drowsy, with accelerated breathing, with the appearances of a dry mouth.

“I expressed my view that [I needed] an ambulance called for him so he would be medically examined as necessary in James Connolly Memorial (JCM) Hospital,” he said.

Coroner Dr Kieran Geraghty recorded a verdict of death due to natural causes, complicated by a subdural haemorrhage caused by a fall.

Speaking after the inquest, Mr Spencer’s sister said she believed her brother should have been brought to hospital earlier.

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