The mother of a UEA student whose death prompted a scathing report into the region's mental health services has described him as "highly compassionate" and "a great healer".

Esther Brennan paid tribute to her son, Theo, days after Norfolk's senior coroner issued damning criticisms of the care he had received from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

Ms Brennan said: "I wish every day that I could turn back time. That he had been seen by a different nurse that understood autism spectrum disorder, a different team that supported each other in their professional actions and decision making, a different hospital that fought professionally and with compassion to save lives."

Theo Brennan-Hulme was a promising English Literature and Creative Writing student from Stoke-on-Trent who started university life in September 2018. He was found dead in his student accommodation in March 2019 having taken his own life.

Earlier this week, coroner Jacqueline Lake published a 'prevention of future deaths' report, which criticised the support he had received.

It highlighted a "culture of bullying" within the mental health unit tasked with his care and described a "loss of compassion" among staff, with a "view that some suicides are 'inevitable'".

The NSFT has described the 21-year-old's death as "a tragedy" and says work is being done to address the concerns raised by the coroner.

But in a statement following the coroner's report, Mrs Brennan said her view of the care he received had not changed.

"Theo was highly compassionate," she said. "Theo tried his hardest to recognise when someone was in crisis, upset or sad and would always try and help.

"He would initiate conversation, was a great healer and would often as me for advice. Simple, caring and compassionate acts. Some of the evidence we uncovered throughout his inquest was horrific."

In her report, Mrs Lake highlighted that Mr Brennan-Hulme had sought support from mental health services on a number of occasions, but could not access the care he needed.

His mother added: "The coroner's report is very much welcomed. It reflects the dangerous approach and practices in staffing our hospitals and in identifying and responding to high risk people in crisis.

"These two things have yet to change since Theo's death three years ago.

"It is still possible that people in mental health crisis would still not be assessed with basic compassion or tools to recognise risk and for them to be sent away and discharged from service, without treatment or follow-up in high risk.

"Mental health crisis is an emergency in health - the same as a physical health crisis.

"Like being in a road traffic collision, we expect an effective emergency response from the NHS. We wouldn't just leave a person in situ.

"A mental health crisis requires the same response - it is an emergency, ultimately death is possible and so individuals must receive the same compassion and professional care.

"Hospitals should be fighting to save lives in crisis."

Mr Brennan-Hulme lived with Asperger's Syndrome, an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), which his mother said "compounded" the impact of his crisis.

She added: "We are all potentially likely to have a mental health illness in our lifetime. Those with ASD are more likely, due to their diagnosis.

"If emergency care is needed we should be able to effectively trust that the NHS will care for us.

"My view has not changed. I knew something didn't add up in Theo's case. I believe that the lack of care and professional practices both individually, culturally and systematically, led to the death of my son.

"They didn't care to pick up the phone to call his next of kin, let alone offer any treatment."

Reflecting on the inquest process itself, she added: "While I'm satisfied with our conclusions and the hard word of Mrs Lake in putting in place her report, and my legal team in uncovering the facts of Theo's case, I can never unsee just how awful the attitude and inaction towards Theo in mental health crisis was.

"We are all potentially Theo, or a brother, sister, parent or friend of a Theo.

What the Trust has said about Theo's case

Dr Dan Dalton, chief medical officer at The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We know that the support given to Theo could and should have been better.

"Our internal investigation highlighted missed opportunities to help Theo. Changes have already been made to prevent this happening again, including improving communication with families and carers, improving the confidence of staff in assessing autistic people and regularly reviewing the accessibility of our crisis services."