Mental health waiting room could be added to A&E after man's death

David Powles writes about his weekend at the N&N.

David Powles writes about his weekend at the N&N. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A specific waiting area for mental health patients could be added to the emergency department of the city's hospital, an inquest has heard.

Police found 41-year-old Christopher Edmonds dead in his home in Russet Grove, Norwich, on November 23 last year after concerns were made for his welfare. It is not clear exactly when he died.

An inquest held on Thursday concluded that he had most likely died an alcohol-related death, having had a long history of issues with drinking. Mr Edmonds had attended A&E on 70 occasions in the space of 15 years.

And one of these occasions, on September 25, 2020, resulted in a hospital investigation which could see a number of changes made to improve the way the department responds to people with mental health and alcohol-related issues.

The inquest heard how on this occasion, Mr Edmonds had gone into A&E and was given an assessment by one of the department nurses, who had then referred him to the mental health liaison team.

The assessment found that Mr Edmonds should have been provided with one-to-one supervision while he awaited a more detailed mental-health assessment.

However, he was instead returned to the general waiting room of the department and left before he could be seen, which triggered an investigation into the care he received.

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Reading the results of the investigation out to the inquest, area coroner Yvonne Blake said that one outcome was that the hospital would explore the addition of a mental health waiting room at the department.

She added that it had also been recommended that staff receive extra training on how to spot if a person is suffering from alcohol withdrawal and that the hospital look at whether the mental health liaison team could be involved earlier when patients come to A&E with similar issues.

Ms Blake said: "I do think it would be a good idea to have somebody with mental health qualifications to see patients alongside nurses during triaging."

A post mortem examination was unable to ascertain the medical cause of Mr Edmonds' death, but Ms Blake concluded "on the balance of probability" that he had died an alcohol-related death.