Clare Childes, 45, of Caernarfon, North Wales, reported suicidal thoughts during a 13-minute call with Dr Gwilym Evans on March 31 this year, telling him that she had downed a bottle of alcohol and was considering hanging herself later that evening. But she was not immediately referred to a mental health crisis team over concerns she would not be seen because she had been drinking. The doctor initially told her that he would call her back the next day. Mrs Childes was found dead in her home by her son’s girlfriend just two hours after the telephone call. The coroner at the inquest, in Caernarfon, is now considering sending health chiefs an official ‘Preventing Future Deaths’ report after hearing of the phone appointment tragedy.
On March 31, Clare Childes, 45, of Caernarfon, Wales, reported suicidal thoughts. Dr. Gwilym Evans told the inquest that he promised to contact her back ‘tomorrow.’ Mrs Childes’ phone went to answer phone when he called back two hours later. Mrs. Childes was discovered dead in her house by her son’s girlfriend. Call Samaritans for free on 116 123 or go to samaritans.org for assistance. An inquest heard that a mother-of-three hanged herself barely two hours after her GP told her during a phone consultation about her acute mental health that he would “give her a call tomorrow.”
The death of Mrs Childes came just weeks before general practices were told to return to face-to-face appointments by the NHS. Health Secretary Sajid Javid is set to unveil a package of measures in the coming days to tear up Covid rules stopping family doctors seeing patients face-to-face. Latest figures suggest that fewer than 60 per cent of GP appointments in England are help in person, compared to 80 per cent before the pandemic. Health bosses told surgeries to ensure all patients could see their doctors in May — but some practices were later found to have ignored the order. Campaigners point out that in-person appointments are vital to pick up on symptoms and conditions that might otherwise be missed. There are also fears that patients may be ignoring potentially dangerous issues because of the access issues.