A disabled man who ‘made the best of his life’ died just hours after A&E doctors let him leave without blood tests or a proper diagnosis.
Billy Longshaw, from Heaton Norris in Stockport, died on March 7 last year, less than 24 hours after being released from an emergency department in Swindon. The 22-year-old, who was born with D-2-hydroxyglutaric aciduria, a rare condition that causes progressive damage to the brain and affects muscle tone, speech, vision and memory, went to the Great Western Hospital after having sudden abdominal pain and vomiting on a car journey.
Billy, who had ‘significant learning difficulties’, was assessed by a junior doctor in A&E, who found everything to be normal. In fact, Billy was suffering with ‘sigmoid volvulus’ – a twisted intestine which would quickly turn fatal.
In a report to prevent future deaths written after the inquest, Chris Morris, area coroner for Manchester South, raised concerns about the hospital’s failure to diagnosis the fatal condition. He said Billy had been allowed to leave ‘without basic blood tests being taken, any diagnosis being made, or serious abdominal pathology being fully excluded’.
“On the balance of probabilities, the sigmoid volvulus which led to Mr Longshaw’s death was present (albeit at an early stage) when he was assessed in Swindon. ” Billy, who was described by his grieving mother as ‘funny’ and ‘a character’ at the pre-inquest hearing, had discharged himself just hours before he died.
In the report, Mr Morris said Billy should not have been allowed to leave and that junior doctors needed ‘adequate’ training on the Mental Capacity Act. Mr Morris said that there was a ‘missed opportunity’ to consider issues surrounding patients with significant learning difficulties discharging themselves from hospital, adding that the process used in this scenario was ‘obviously flawed’.
He concluded that Billy died of acute bowel obstruction, a twisted intestine and heart problems brought on by his pre-existing condition.
A spokesperson for Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Swindon, said: “We would like to offer our sincere condolences to Mr Longshaw’s family following his sad death. We have reviewed our procedures and have put extra measures in place to safeguard patients from being prematurely discharged.
“We provide our staff with training on how to support patients with learning disabilities or other complex needs and we are looking at ways to improve this.”
Speaking at the pre-inquest hearing in July last year, his mum Caroline Bird, said: “”He loved riding his bike. He was a character, he was funny, he was over six foot but he was still our baby.” She said she had a record of achievements for Billy, which showed off all he could do and said: “He made the best of his life.”
In 2015, aged just 17, Billy was subjected to a vicious attack by a group of teenage thugs. While visiting the shops for his mum he was confronted by two boys and a girl – and the ring leader viciously kicked him from his bike.
He fell to the floor and the yobs only stopped the attack when a teenage girl shouted at them to stop and called the police . Police took Billy and his broken bike home but on the way he spotted his attacker using a pedestrian crossing who was later charged.
The attack was said to set Billy back at the time and make him fearful to go out. His story , reported in The Manchester Evening News , touched hearts and a crowdfunder was set up to buy him a new bike.