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Doctors refused to sedate distressed teenager after overdose, inquest hears

PUBLISHED: 16:58 11 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:51 12 September 2019

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn pictured in 2018. Picture: Ian Burt

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn pictured in 2018. Picture: Ian Burt

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A psychiatrist told how delays in the transfer of a distressed teenager into an A&E department occurred after doctors refused to assess or sedate him in the back of an ambulance, at an inquest.

Tyla Cook, 16, who struggled with his gender identity and mental health, died at Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King's Lynn on November 15, 2017, after he was put into an induced coma.

A five-day inquest, which began on Tuesday, September 10, was addressed on Wednesday by a senior doctor involved in the teenager's care, who shared how delays to A&E admittance saw him wait outside the hospital for more than two hours, despite having told professionals he had overdosed on an over-the-counter drug just hours previously.

Dr Lauren Coates, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) said she was informed of Mr Cook's overdose by care provider Annabella Hudson during a one-to-one appointment on Thursday, November 9, at Thurlow House in King's Lynn.

But Mr Cook, from Wretton, was distressed at the mention of the hospital and care providers had to carry him to the ambulance.

"I received a call 30 minutes later saying that doctors at the QEH A&E refused to assess Tyla in the ambulance or provide any sedation to assist him being moved inside," Dr Coates said.

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The psychiatrist drove to the hospital, where she prescribed a dose of sedative to the teenager, who was "increasingly distressed" and she added: "We were concerned we wouldn't be able to safely support him without him breaking free."

Once a doctor did come out to the ambulance to assess Tyla, Dr Coates said she "tried to provide a handover - he turned his back on me and ignored me completely".

She added: "He didn't introduce himself. He came into the ambulance and I attempted to explain the situation.

"[He] grabbed Tyla's wrists and pinned them to his abdomen and started shouting 'hello, hello', in his face, despite me trying to explain that it wasn't going to yield any results at that point.

"The doctor simply said we had to get him in and left."

Care provider Mrs Hudson, who waited in the ambulance with the teenager, told how she had tried to soothe Tyla during the wait, and said: "He hated hospital - it took all my energy to hold him."

The inquest continues.

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