Mental health patient died while in trust’s care, prompting apologies from bosses

Hellesdon Hospital, the home of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Photo: Bill Smith

Hellesdon Hospital, the home of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2012

The region's mental health trust has apologised to the family of a patient who died after strangling herself while in the care of staff on a ward.

Lorraine Youngs, who lived at Foulgers Opening, in Norwich, was admitted to Hellesdon Hospital, run by the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), on March 23 last year after taking an overdose of alcohol, drugs and prescription medication.

The 35-year-old, originally from Southery, near Downham Market, had a history of mental-health problems and had battled with anorexia, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

The inquest was told two staff-members left Miss Youngs on her own to find her some medication, following an altercation with a nurse on March 24.

Soon after she was found fatally injured in a room on the ward after strangling herself.

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Her life-support was switched off two days later at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

After a three-day inquest at Norfolk Coroner's Court, the jury concluded: 'She killed herself by deliberate act but it is unclear if she intended to kill herself.'

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Giving evidence yesterday, Debbie White, director of operations for Norfolk and Waveney at NSFT, said the trust had addressed issues raised within a 'serious incident report', which was written by trust staff investigating Miss Youngs's death.

The findings of the report have been shared with the National Reporting and Learning System, meaning other health trusts can benefit from the lessons learned in Miss Youngs's case.

Earlier at the inquest staff at Hellesdon Hospital defended their decision to leave Miss Youngs unattended while preparing the medication for her.

Nurse Helen Andrews said Miss Youngs had not been at immediate risk of suicide.

Speaking after the inquest, Ms White said: 'Our thoughts are with Lorraine Youngs's family and we have met them to apologise for our failings in her care.

'We take a death in any of our services extremely seriously.

'We have carried out a thorough investigation and taken actions to further improve risk assessment and care planning for our patients as a direct result of this tragic event.'

If you are in need of help, you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123.

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