Law student would have lived if he had gone to hospital earlier – neurosurgeon

A neurosurgeon who investigated the death of a 26-year-old law student after a series of remote GP appointments, concluded he probably would have lived if he had been taken to hospital earlier, an inquest has heard.

Simon Howarth conducted an inquiry following the death of musician David Nash, who was taken to hospital after four phone consultations with a Leeds GP practice over a 19-day period in October and November 2020 and then five calls to NHS 111.

A coroner in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, had heard a GP expert conclude that the advanced nurse practitioner from the Burley Park Medical Practice, in Leeds, who spoke to Mr Nash on November 2, should have ordered an urgent face-to-face appointment and it is likely this would have meant a hospital admission 10 hours earlier than when it actually happened.

The court has heard how Mr Nash and his partner instead made a series of five NHS 111 calls during November 2, as his condition deteriorated, before he was taken to St James’s Hospital by ambulance.

He was later transferred to Leeds General Infirmary for neurosurgery but he could not be saved and died on November 4.

He had developed mastoiditis in his ear which caused an abscess on his brain, leading to his death, the inquest has heard.

On Wednesday, Mr Howarth’s report was read in court which said: “On the balance of probabilities, had this intervention been 10 hours previously, his death would probably have been avoided.”

Earlier this week, assistant coroner Abigail Combe read a statement from GP expert Alastair Bint, who said a nurse should have organised an urgent in-patient appointment after the fourth phone consultation on November 2, 2020.

Dr Bint said he did not criticise the remote nature of Mr Nash’s first three consultations on October 14, 23 and 28.

But he said Mr Nash’s presentation of fever, neck stiffness and night-time headaches on November 2, were “red flags” and the nurse’s diagnosis of a flu-like virus was “not safe”.

Mr Nash’s parents, Andrew and Anne Nash, from Nantwich, Cheshire, have campaigned to find out whether the mastoiditis he had developed would have been identified and easily treated with antibiotics if their son had undergone a face-to-face examination earlier.

David Nash death
David Nash who had four remote consultations with doctors and nurses at a Leeds GP practice over a 19-day period (Andrew Nash/PA)

The inquest has also heard that Mr Nash fell while left unattended in a confused state during his time in the emergency department at St James’s and cut his head.

In his report, Mr Haworth concluded that this had “no clinical significance” in terms of the outcome.

Mr Nash had just started the second year of a law degree at Leeds University when he died after a number of years as a drummer on Leeds’s music scene, touring Europe with his band Weirds and recording an album.

The inquest is expected to conclude on Friday.