Gloucestershire Royal Hospital
Gloucestershire Royal Hospital Getty/Matt Cardy

A patient was found dead in a hospital toilet three days after leaving his ward to go for a cigarette, an inquest has heard.

Jonathan Earp had been admitted to Royal Gloucestershire Hospital after suffering from deep vein thrombosis and a clot on his lung.

A preliminary inquest held by assistant coroner Caroline Saunders heard that Earp regularly went for cigarette breaks away from his hospital bed. On 7 July he told staff he wanted to be discharged from the hospital, and it was ruled that he was mentally fit to do so. However, the patient did not leave and went to take a cigarette break within the hospital building.

Staff eventually found his body inside a locked disabled toilet on July 10, three days after he was reported missing from his ward. Staff identified his body using a hospital wristband and distinctive tattoos on his body.

His post-mortem revealed a variety of drugs, both prescription and non-prescription, were in his system at the time of his death.

Gloucestershire police confirmed that they received a call from concerned relatives about his missing whereabouts on 7 July and have now referred themselves to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The Royal Gloucestershire Hospital says it has also conducted its own internal review into the incident.

A statement from the coroner's office read: "At about 10.55pm on 7 July, he told staff on his ward that he was going out for a cigarette. Sadly he did not return.

"Hospital staff raised the alarm and reported the matter to the police. At 8.30am on July 10 hospital staff found his body in a public disabled toilet near the entrance to the tower block.

"By way of history, he was suffering from drug dependency and had been on numerous medications including Subutex, Diazepam and Methadone, and other prescribed drugs, as well as patches."

A full inquest will be held next year.