'We want to know why our James died'

A FAMILY last night pledged to continue their search for answers over how a “gentle giant” died when his health worsened after a car crash.

Dave Gooderham

A FAMILY last night pledged to continue their search for answers over how a “gentle giant” died when his health worsened after a car crash.

James Leeks, 22, died at Colchester General Hospital four weeks after suffering serious leg injuries in a car accident.

More than two years since the tragedy, his family said they will keep fighting for “the truth” amid hopes that an inquest next spring will finally give them the answers they crave.

His mother, Judy Leeks, said the family was now considering a second approach to the Healthcare Commission after the family claimed they were told that hospital staff had difficulty reading new x-ray machines.

She said: “We just want to know what happened as we still think James would be here now if he had received better treatment.

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“We can't help thinking the hospital is somehow to blame. They didn't even appear to know what was wrong with him.

“We have had two meetings with the hospital and it emerged that there was a new x-ray machine installed in the week James died and we understand staff found it hard to read.

“This is something we are never going to get over but we need some answers.”

The family, of Newton Green, near Sudbury, claimed doctors initially failed to recognise a collapsed lung and that medical staff had to read instruction manuals before using a dialysis machine.

And the eventual cause of death, adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), where fluid builds up in the lungs, was initially described as a setback, they alleged.

Mrs Leeks said: “We are now considering whether to take the case back to the Healthcare Commission. We went to them last year and were told there were too many questions that remained unanswered and referred it back to the trust.

“We have been told by the coroner that an inquest will be held next spring and we just have to hope that some answers will come out of that.”

One of five children, Mr Leeks, who worked as a photographer for Auto Trader car magazine, died in hospital four weeks after a head-on collision on the A134 close to his home.

Mrs Leeks revealed that her first grandchild, Gracie , was born earlier this year on James's birthday, which had provided the family with some comfort.

“It was a very emotional time but it is nice that some good can be remembered on that day and Gracie is just beautiful,” she said.

A spokesman for the Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust confirmed the hospital had received a formal complaint from the family and had met with them.

He said: “If the family have any more additional concerns and questions, they should get back in touch with the trust and we will look into it and report back.”

A spokesman for the Healthcare Commission revealed it had received a complaint from the family last October but had referred it back to the trust to see if it could “resolve the issue locally”.

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