Inquest to hear how police and ambulance services failed to respond to suicidal father

‘I truly believe that, if the ambulance or police had got to Alex in time that day, he would have got better’

Shaun Lintern
Health Correspondent
Monday 01 November 2021 14:05
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<p>Alex Reynolds died in March 2021 </p>

Alex Reynolds died in March 2021

A coroner is to hear evidence about the death of a father of four who died after police and ambulance services failed to respond to 999 calls warning he was suicidal.

Brian Alex Reynolds, known as Alex, was found hanged at his home in Bury, Greater Manchester earlier this year.

He was found at 8pm on 9 March, but his family and friends had called 999 at 3.14pm and 7.15pm that day to report he was suicidal.

A series of blunders by North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) meant the calls for help were not responded too until it was too late.

His wife, Vicky, was not told her husband had left a suicide note until talking to coroner’s staff nine weeks after his death. This meant his wife was unaware of his wish to be buried with family photographs and instead he was cremated.

Now an inquest into his death will hear evidence on Wednesday at Rochdale Coroner’s Court.

The family are pursuing a case of medical negligence against North West Ambulance Service, Greater Manchester Police and Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Mr Reynolds had had been admitted to a mental health ward at Fairfield Hospital in February and was only discharged 11 days before he was found dead.

Despite the 999 calls, police did not send any officers to Alex for several hours, which was in breach of its incident response policy. A NWAS ambulance dispatcher allocated vehicles to other category three calls that came in after the 999 call about Alex.

A police officer should have been sent to check on Mr Reynolds within an hour of the first 999 call, but this was not done, GMP’s investigation into the incident found. Despite a lack of staff the incident was not escalated for action.

When paramedics found Mr Reynolds, they told his wife police would speak to her that evening but they never did at any point.

His wife Vicky, who had been with Mr Reynolds for 26 years, since they were 14, said: “I have been left completely devastated by the loss of Alex. I now have four children to raise alone.

“I truly believe that, if the ambulance or police had got to Alex in time that day, he would have got better from this. Our family has been through a terrible ordeal. an ordeal we shall never recover from. The additional confusion from the initial failings, the lack of police contact and the fact that the note and photos were never mentioned or provided to me for nine weeks has taken a huge toll on my mental health and that of my children as we can never have complete closure knowing that we never had the opportunity to fulfil his final wishes due to errors of the police.

“Alex and I were the best of friends and always needed each other. I feel lost without him. Alex no longer has a voice but I do and I would like GMP and NWAS to address these failings.”

Elizabeth Davies, a specialist clinical negligence solicitor at law firm JMW, who is representing the family said: “This is a truly harrowing case. Alex was previously a happy and successful man but after suffering some health problems and the loss of his job during lockdown he hit a downward spiral.

“This is a situation that almost anyone could face so it’s extremely concerning that when he reached crisis point the emergency services did not respond appropriately. It has been a further blow to his family to learn that this is not the first time that this has happened, and the coroner has asked NWAS and GMP to address similar issues in the past.”

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