Unlawful killing verdict prompts police review

POLICE are reviewing an unlawful killing verdict of the inquest into a man whose death left a Denton woman devastated and whose family believe was ‘taken too soon.’

But the Greater Manchester force is adamant it did a full investigation at the time.

A jury at Manchester City Coroner’s Court returned the verdict after deciding a security guard’s actions may have contributed to the 41-year-old’s death in 2017.

Mr Thorley was a patient at Wythenshawe Hospital after attending A&E on December 19 complaining of shortness of breath.

He was transferred to the Acute Medical Unit and also treated for a significantly increased heart rate.

Michael Thorley

The inquest before coroner Zak Golombeck heard during the afternoon of December 21, he started to exhibit behaviour consistent with delirium.

Just after 11pm, he called 999 and reported to police that he did not feel safe in hospital and at about 1.23am on December 22, he pulled the emergency cord whilst using the toilet.

Staff attended and found he was having a seizure. Following the seizure Michael became very agitated and a decision was taken to call security.

In evidence at the inquest, two security guards described Michael as appearing confused. They were later replaced by one security guard who was deployed to carry out bed watch.

During that period, he started stood at the window and shouted ‘help’ to a passer-by while banging on the glass.

A nurse reported the security guard was ‘trying to restrain’ him and told him to leave Michael alone, fearing physical intervention would make things worse.

Following an apparent altercation, he continued to stare out of the window and bang on the glass and according to the charity INQUEST, an altercation ensued and Michael was forced on to and restrained on the floor.

A member of nursing staff intervened after noticing that Michael was no longer moving and found that he was not breathing.

He had suffered a cardio-respiratory arrest and was pronounced dead after lengthy resuscitation attempts.

As well as the verdict, the jury also concluded it was not necessary for the security guard to restrain Michael when he did and there was a failure by nursing staff to monitor Michael’s condition during the restraint.

Both factors were found by the jury to have probably caused or contributed to Michael’s death.

It was also found the force used during restraint was unreasonable, disproportionate and/or excessive, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust did not make appropriate security arrangements in respect of Michael and there were errors in Michael’s clinical management – all possibly contributed to his death.

And INQUEST claim: “In breach of the Trust’s own suspicious death investigation protocols, there was a period of approximately five hours before the hospital referred the incident to the police.

“The family were not informed of the death until the following morning.”

Michael’s family hopes the verdict brings about change in the way security guards work at hospitals.

They said: “December 22, 2017 is a day etched in our memories forever.

“We hope more than anything that things will change with restraint being undertaken by security guards on vulnerable patients in care settings.

“Comprehensive training should and must be undertaken. Michael is missed always and will never be forgotten. He was taken from us too soon.”

Clair Hilder of Broudie Jackson Canter solicitors, who represented the family, said: “Michael was in hospital because he was acutely unwell; his challenging behaviour was as a result of delirium possibly contributed to by failings in his clinical care.

“Ultimately, physical intervention should be a last resort and bed watch guards should have a clear understanding of the increased risk it poses to patients in hospital who as a result of their medical conditions are vulnerable.

“Where such restraint takes place it is important medical staff understand the role they should take to ensure their patient is kept safe.”

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST, said: “This unlawful killing conclusion is a condemnation of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust for their unsafe policy for security guards.

“Michael suffered unnecessary restraint at the hands of a security guard, as medical staff failed to monitor and keep him safe.

“The dangers of restraint are well known, particularly on people experiencing delirium, and the circumstances of Michael’s death are sadly all too familiar.

“We hope this damning inquest sends a strong message to hospital Trusts nationally, to ensure the same killing of a patient in crisis never happens again.”

Now the verdict has opened up the possibility of a criminal charge, Greater Manchester Police is conducting a full review of all evidence at the inquest.

However, a spokesman told The Correspondent: “It was reported to us at the time and GMP carried out a full and thorough investigation and no further action was taken.

“A report was prepared for HM Coroner.

“In line with standard process when a verdict such as this is returned, GMP will review any new information disclosed during the inquest.”

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