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Father of teenager who took his own life faces trust bosses who ‘let him down’

PUBLISHED: 17:33 29 November 2018 | UPDATED: 08:23 06 December 2018

Nyall Brown. Photo: Picture: Mearl Brown

Nyall Brown. Photo: Picture: Mearl Brown

Mearl Brown

“I’m here to see the faces of those who let me down.”

Those were the words of a father whose son took his own life after he could not access mental health services.

Nyall Brown, 19, took his own life in May this year.

And his father Mearl Brown was speaking at the board meeting of the region’s mental health trust on Thursday – just a day after they were plunged into special measures by inspectors.

Nyall had struggled to access services which his parents dubbed “remote, awful and inhumane”.

And Mr Brown, from Cromer, said his family never wanted to “be in the limelight” but he wanted to attend the meeting in Bury St Edmunds to find out what was going to change, so more lives were not lost.

That included those at the head of Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), specifically chief executive Antek Lejk, who he questioned during the meeting.

He said: “I’m here to ask a question and to see the faces who let me and my family down. But my main question is for Antek. This is all about mental health, how is your mental health?”

Speaking after the meeting Mr Brown said: “They are in a bad situation and with the question I threw at Antek, he caught me on a good day.”

Mr Brown said it could be difficult not to be angry at the mental health trust for their recent result and the lack of care provided. He admitted on a bad day it might not have been as easy to show compassionate for bosses.

He said: “When you go home and you cry and you’re looking at pictures, it’s what we have been through, it should not have happened. But that’s the question Nyall would have asked.”

He said the trust needed to “get the basics right” and there “a lot of frustration” with the lack of services, which Mr Brown, and his wife Tracey, had previously said was a factor in Nyall’s death.

Mr Lejk said NSFT was in “crisis management mode” as he gave a 45 minute presentation to board members and the public.

But that they were moving staff from elsewhere into crisis services to try and help those most vulnerable.

Governor to write to health secretary

One of the trust’s governors is to write to health secretary Matt Hancock to demand NSFT is taken into government control.

Anne Humphrys, who is also co-chair of the Suffolk Parent Carer Nework, said families trying to access services were being left high and dry by NSFT.

She said: “We’ve got seven year olds saying they want to end their lives. We believe that we’ve reached a point now where we are not capable of improving.

“They’ve been given loads of time to make the changes which is why we’ve reached this decision.”

She said while the choice to write the letter had made her unpopular with some fellow governors, she felt it was the right thing to do.

“It’s not difficult for me because I feel I’m doing the right thing,” she said. “I’m here to represent the public and carers. I hope [Matt Hancock] sees how desperate things are.”

Targets put clinicians under pressure

A former member of staff at the region’s health trust said he was not surprised about the CQC result.

The man, who worked in the Wellbeing service but asked to remain anonymous, said he had witnessed a number of times patients who should have been granted access to the service being turned away.

And he said it was a fixation with targets - such as ensuring 50pc of people ended up in recovery in a certain amount of time - which put clinicians under too much pressure.

Staff at NSFT were rated as good for the caring category of the inspection.

And chief executive Antek Lejk said it was key to remember good people worked at the trust.

He said more power would now be given to clinicians to make the changes they thought necessary to improve patient care.

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