Northamptonshire NHS hospital's failures let dementia patient wander off before fatal crash

Michael Reid, 75, was hit by a car three hours after he walked out of A&E without being noticed

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 5:51 pm

Catastrophic failures by a Northamptonshire NHS hospital allowed a 75-year-old man man with dementia to wander off before he was hit and killed in a road crash.

Michael Reid was taken to Kettering General Hospital in a confused state and with suspected sepsis at 7.30pm on September 8, 2019.

But he was not closely monitored and staff assumed he had been moved to another department after he walked out of A&E at 10.40pm.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Dementia patient Michael Reid died in a car crash three hours after wandering out of Kettering hospitals

Three hours later he was mown down by a Saab driven by Ross Eaton, just over half-a-mile away in Northampton Road.

Mr Reid's family believe he was trying to find a way back to Gabriel Court care home, where he lived.

The hospital has apologised for its failures.

But Mr Reid's furious daughter Misty, 35, told this newspaper: "The driver is not a very good man at all, but my dad should not have been out there in the first place.

Ross Eaton was jailed last month for causing death by careless driving

"He should have been safe, in a hospital bed, on a ward, in a gown and being monitored."

The former Army engineer was taken back to KGH with a head injury, broken pelvis and broken ankle following the crash before he was transferred to Coventry hospital, where he died a few days later.

Eaton, 47, was jailed for 34 months at Northampton Crown Court last month after admitting causing death by careless driving.

A serious incident report revealed Mr Reid had been assessed by an advanced clinical practitioner at 8.30pm and a bed allocated for him at about 10.35pm.

Mr Reid was killed after being hit by Ross Eaton's Saab in Northampton Road

But CCTV showed Mr Reid walking out at 10.41pm, not in a gown. Doors in the area were kept open because staff could not hear call bells when they were closed.

Nine minutes later, the hospital tracker recognised his bed was empty but staff assumed he had been moved to another ward and it was not until 11.45pm they realised he had absconded.

Security staff searched for Mr Reid for just over 30 minutes and police were called at 12.17am.

Hospital bosses said this followed the trust's missing person policy. But Misty said that her dad was not reported as a missing person with dementia.

It is understood that had he been, a police helicopter would have taken to the skies to try and help find him. About 90 minutes after police were called Mr Reid was fatally hit.

Misty, who grew up in Thrapston and now lives in Cornwall, said: "The hospital failed in their duty of care. Words cannot describe how angry I am with them.

"They need to understand that people like this need to be monitored because if they abscond it's dangerous.

"It could have been any driver that could have hit my dad that night."

KGH says new measures are now in place to prevent similar incidents including swipe card restrictions so patients must ask staff before leaving A&E, monitoring patient movements more closely and training staff in mental capacity assessments.

Chief operating officer, Fay Gordon, said: “We would like to offer our sincere apologies to Mr Reid’s family for their loss and for the aspects of Michael’s care, and supervision on September 8, 2019, that fell short of what we would aim to achieve for our patients.

“We have carried out a very detailed investigation into the circumstances that led to Michael being able to leave the hospital and have identified ways that we can reduce the risk of this kind of incident occurring again."