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Family and Norfolk coroner raise concerns about surgery after father’s suicide

07:46 15 May 2014

Family of Darren Arnoup. Left to right
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Family of Darren Arnoup. Left to right PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

A grieving family believes it has been failed by a village medical practice after a caring father and “Jack the lad” killed himself following a battle with depression and alcohol.

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Tributes to ‘lively and fun’ family man

Darren Arnoup’s brother Sean said: “We feel let down big time. We have been failed.”

The welder started experiencing depression and having alcohol problems after a stroke in Brazil in September 2010. Before that he had not had any mental or physical health problems.

Mr Arnoup, 46, from Rockland St Peter, said: “Darren’s death is a big loss. He was a lively and fun character. He was the life and soul of everything.”

The 48-year-old had lived in All Saints Way for 21 years with wife Claire, 45, whom he married in 1992.

The couple had a daughter, Jordan, 20, and he also had a son Oliver, 25, from a previous marriage. “He was loving and caring with the kids and would go out of his way for them,” Mr Arnoup said.

Darren Arnoup was referred to the Colman Centre in April 2012 for a neuro-psychological assessment and received treatment until September last year. Staff contacted Mundesley Medical Centre on several occasions. The report and letter referring to their concerns about Mr Arnoup’s mental health problems were sent on May 21 and June 12 respectively.

Father-of-two Darren Arnoup, 48, from All Saints Way, Mundesley, was found hanging in his garage by police at 8.40pm on October 27 last year.

He had attempted to kill himself three times in 2013.

Mundesley Medical Centre and the North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has received an order from the coroner calling on them to take action to prevent future deaths.

The Regulation 28/29 Report was issued after concerns were raised about Mr Arnoup’s suicidal thoughts and self-harming, which were not read by his now-retired GP, Dr John Harris-Hall.

Surgery response

A statement from Mundesley Medical Practice said: “We would like to express our condolences to the family of Darren Arnoup. We have started work on a detailed report which will include a revision of procedures for timely review of investigations and letters relating to patients. The report will be filed within the timeframe set by the coroner following the inquest.”

A spokesman from North Norfolk CCG said: “We were very sorry to learn about the tragic death of Darren Arnoup and we would like to express our very sincere condolences to his family. The CCG will provide the practice team at Mundesley with any support they may need to ensure a thorough review of procedures is undertaken. We will also make certain that any learning arising from the case review is shared with other GP practices in our area.”

An inquest at Norwich on April 30 heard that a report and letter sent last year from the Colman Centre, Unthank Road, Norwich, where Mr Arnoup was being treated, were marked as “for information only” for Dr Harris-Hall.

Assistant Norfolk coroner David Osborne sent the report after the hearing and the surgery and CCG has until June 26 to respond.

In the report he said: “In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken.

“I am concerned that there is a continuing risk that letters containing information about a concern for the suicide risk or self-harming behaviour of a patient will not be noted.”

Darren Arnoup. Picture: SUBMITTEDDarren Arnoup. Picture: SUBMITTED

While it was unclear whether Mr Arnoup’s death might have been prevented if the GP had seen the letter, the assistant coroner said he could “readily envisage situations where it could.”

He said the system used by GP practices with regard to how doctors were made aware of concerns about suicide risks and self-harming should be reviewed.

North Norfolk MP and health minister, Norman Lamb, said: “The loss of life is utterly tragic. It is critical lessons are learned from this.”

He believed there was a big gap between support for people with physical health compared to mental health.

“The brutal truth is, a life can be lost if action is not taken with someone who has mental health problems,” Mr Lamb added.

The MP wanted better integrated care within the NHS to avoid communication failures.

Mr Arnoup left behind a sister, Gina Wainwright, 50, from Thorpe Marriott, and mother Jennifer Arnoup from North Walsham.

For support about suicide issues call the Samaritans on 0845 790 9090 or visit www.samaritans.org

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