MEDICS who assessed a 20-year-old charity worker in the days before he died failed to identify just how ill he was, an inquest heard today.

Southampton coroner Keith Wiseman today issued a narrative verdict into the death of Gary Lovett, from Southampton, who died from pneumonia within hours of being taken to hospital- despite his parents seeking advice from a variety of NHS services for days.

He said: “Gary Lovett died as a result of severe and overwhelming bronchopneumonia; it is likely that he was suffering from at least the early stages of this condition during the few days prior to his death during which time there was both telephonic and face to face assessment of his illness by a number of medical professionals who failed to identify the extent of his illness and the risk it presented to his life”.

The inquest into the Lordswood resident's death heard how mum and dad Tracy and Rob Lovett battled to get medical help for Gary from three NHS agencies as his condition deteriorated.

Contact was made in the lead up to Christmas 2010 with Aldermoor GP, NHS Direct and Solent Healthcare out-of-hours service when Gary was suffering symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting, fever, cough and chest pains.

Solent Healthcare's out-of-hours service did arrange a face-to-face appointment.

But despite going to the appointment in a wheelchair, he was not given emergency care and although he was eventually admitted to Southampton General Hospital in the early hours of boxing day, he died within hours of arriving.

Earlier in the inquest nursing boss Stuart Toulson spoke frankly and admitted failings by his team- even leading to one nurse being sacked and a referral to the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

But despite his frank admissions, health boss Andrew Lennon, who represented the out-of-hours service had adamantly denied any wrongdoing.

The coroner said of the NHS Direct involvement: “face to face contact with a doctor would seem to have been a minimum requirement at that stage” and “might have made a difference.”

He added: “However on another level, it could be said that all of the assessments in question were by definition wrong; over the last few days of his life in my view Gary urgently needed antibiotics as his lower respiratory tract infection was clearly turning to pneumonia.

He said: “What is self-evident however is that Gary did have a far more serious illness developing than was ever actually identified until it was far too late, when of course he was eventually admitted to hospital only an hour or two prior to his death.”