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A King's Lynn care support worker describes moment he tried to grab patient who "dived" to his death

PUBLISHED: 06:30 12 December 2015

Christopher Higgins

Christopher Higgins

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A care worker recalled how he tried to grab a 36-year-old patient as he "dived" to his death.

Ferdinand Pick, a care support worker at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King’s Lynn, told an inquest yesterday he stood around two-and-a-half feet away from Christopher Higgins, of South Wootton, as he plunged over the handrail of a disabled ramp at the hospital’s Fermoy Unit.

Mr Higgins suffered a fractured skull and died days later at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge on July 2, 2013.

Mr Pick told an inquest in Norwich Mr Higgins appeared calm as he smoked a cigarette and talked to police officers and a mental health nurse outside.

He added the patient said a van outside the unit was “smart”.

“I thought I heard him say it was a funny off-white colour and very shortly after he finished saying that, Mr Higgins dived over the handrail.

“As Mr Higgins dived over the railing I took a step forward and reached out to try and grab him. I believe I drew my arms together in a hugging sort of motion. I realised I hadn’t been able to catch him or grab him. At that point things went in slow motion for me; I imagine the shock caused that.”

Mr Pick later travelled with Mr Higgins in an ambulance.

Mr Higgins’s family expressed concern earlier in the inquest at the difficulty in getting help for his mental health problems.

Yesterday Mr Pick told the court he “signposted” services for a family member who called for a psychiatric assessment for Mr Higgins.

“All I could do was register the level of distress in that person’s voice; they needed help and all I could do was signpost that person as to the best ways to get the help,” he said.

Mr Pick added there was no expectation to carry out the assessment himself and he informed his supervisor of the call after it was made.

One of the services recommended to the family member was to contact the out-of-hours GP but Mr Pick said he didn’t believe they would be able to provide the assessment.

The jury inquest continues.

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