Family of Leeds DJ who died of meningitis speak out as hospital says care was not up to 'standard they expect'

The family of a young DJ who died after contracting meningitis has called for greater awareness of the illness among the public and healthcare professionals after a hospital apologised for care that was “not to the standard we would expect”.

By Rebecca Marano
Sunday, 5th December 2021, 10:05 am
The family of the young DJ who died after contracting meningitis has called for greater awareness of the illness among the public and healthcare professionals after a hospital apologised for care that was "not to the standard we would expect".
The family of the young DJ who died after contracting meningitis has called for greater awareness of the illness among the public and healthcare professionals after a hospital apologised for care that was "not to the standard we would expect".

On Friday, a coroner said he would be writing two “prevention of further deaths” reports following the case of Alex Theodossiadis, 25, who died from meningitis after being unwell for days in January 2020.

Mr Theodossiadis, who lived in Leeds but whose family live in Hale, Greater Manchester, had been ill with symptoms including severe headaches when he rang his local GP practice to make an appointment and was offered one for three weeks later.

He later visited a walk-in centre in Leeds and was given painkillers for his migraine-like headache.

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Alex Theodossiadis, 25, was developing a growing reputation as a DJ in the UK and across Europe and also worked at Tribe Records, in Leeds.

A day later, Mr Theodossiadis was taken to A&E at Leeds General Infirmary by taxi and later transferred to the city’s St James’s Hospital, where he fell and banged his head on the floor while in a confused state.

At an inquest which concluded in Wakefield on Friday, Leeds coroner Kevin McCloughlin expressed concerns about protocols hospital medics had in place for dealing with meningitis and also raised the issue of how Mr Theodossiadis was transferred between the hospitals without a nurse escort and with inadequate handover notes which could have warned staff how he had tried to get out of his bed at the infirmary in a confused state.

But the coroner decided that Mr Theodossiadis was already likely to die from meningitis notwithstanding the fall.

Mr McLoughlin also said he will write to the Royal College of General Practitioners with advice for GP receptionists on being meningitis-aware.

On Saturday, Alex’s parents, Professor Sue Theodossiadis, who is a medical imaging expert, and his father, also Alex, who is a consultant psychiatrist, said they were pleased the coroner had highlighted the two issues.

Prof Theodossiadis said that Alex was in a confused state and fell within minutes of arriving at the ward when he was left alone.

She said the handover between hospitals was “shocking and Alex was victim of that” and noted the coroner used the word “astonishing” to describe the poor communication.

Prof Theodossiadis said: “The coroner picked up that there’s a need for (GP) receptionists to ask questions and help people to disclose what they need to disclose and triage them to get urgent appointments. I think that’s a positive.”

Her husband said: “Healthcare professionals, from receptionists through to doctors, need to be aware of the difficulties young people have explaining themselves.”

Dr Theodossiadis said: “This is the point of entry to the system and it needs to be easy and user-friendly.”

The coroner has previously highlighted some similarities between the case of Alex Theodossiadis and that of another young man, David Nash, who also died of meningitis in Leeds and also fell while in a confused state in hospital.

Mr Nash died 10 months after Mr Theodossiadis and Prof Theodossiadis believes that, if the hospital trust had investigated her son’s death differently “something might have changed sooner and that might have helped David but we don’t know that”.

Mr Theodossiadis, as Alex T, was developing a growing reputation as a DJ in the UK and across Europe and also worked at Tribe Records, in Leeds.

He particularly enjoyed playing at the Dimensions Festival in Croatia, and had a 2020 tour of North America booked, his family said.

They said: “He was loved by many people, and the loss of his life at such a young age and with so much ahead of him, so much love to give, is devastating.

“It is our hope that lessons will be learnt from Alex’s death that might save others.”

The family said: “We hope that teenagers and young adults can be made more aware of the symptoms of meningitis and sepsis, and that the symptoms can appear in any order and may not all be present.

“We hope that young adults can be informed about how best to access the healthcare system where they live, and where necessary to express themselves clearly in a way that will highlight the need for urgent care.”

They also called for GP practices to review the way they offer appointments, recognising not all patients have the experience to relay the seriousness of their symptoms.

Dr Phil Wood, chief medical officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “I would like to offer our sincere condolences to Alexander’s family and apologise that the care he received was not to the standard we would expect.

“We accept the findings of the coroner and we will provide a detailed response to ensure lessons are learned from this.

“Our heartfelt sympathies are with Alexander’s family at this extremely difficult time.”

– The Theodossiadis family are fundraising for Meningitis Now in their son’s memory. More details at alex-theodossiadis.muchloved.com/