Mental health trust and county council to pay compensation to patient and her mother

Hellesdon Hospital. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Hellesdon Hospital. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

The region's mental health trust and Norfolk County Council have been ordered to pay a patient and her mother £75 each for failings before a suicide attempt.

The patient's mother, identified only as Ms X, complained to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) that both organisations 'missed opportunities to stop her daughter (Miss Y) from attempting suicide on October 14, 2015'.

She said Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) discharged Miss Y, who had a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and a history of alcohol abuse, from hospital too early, and that neither organisation drew up a care plan.

She also said Miss Y's care co-ordinator told the council it did not need to bring forward a mental health act assessment on the day Miss Y attempted to take her own life. And although the LGO found no fault 'with the trust's discharge planning, decision making on September 30, 2015 and October 12, or comments in its response' it agreed a care plan should have been drawn up and there was a 'sense of uncertainty' left by the council not moving the assessment forward.

Miss Y was sectioned on August 17, 2015, after police found her at the side of a busy road. And the ombudsman found that while in hospital her mental health improved and she was discharged on September 30.

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But by October 12, Miss Y's care co-ordinator found her mental state 'was causing concern and potentially harmful to others'. On October 14 Miss Y was showing signs of relapse and an assessment was ordered to determine if she needed to be sectioned. But a note said: 'I advised assessment can be conducted tomorrow as appears not to be in immediate danger.'

Later that evening, Ms X, Miss Y's brother, the police and the Crisis Home Resolution Team (CRHT) called the council's emergency duty team for an immediate assessment.

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But the council cited the note and said it already had five assessments that evening. The next day, Ms X and Miss Y's brother found that Miss Y had attempted suicide.

An ambulance crew provided lifesaving treatment..

The LGO recommend the council apologise for the uncertainty, and both organisations each pay the pair £75 each for the distress.

'We will learn lessons'

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: 'Norfolk County Council has complied fully with the LGO's recommendation and has apologised to the family for the distress and uncertainty the family have suffered.

'The Adult Safeguarding Board has commissioned a serious adult review and will use it to learn lessons from this case.'

NSFT refused to comment on the individual case but medical director Bohdan Solomka said: 'As caring mental health staff with high professional standards, none of us ever doubt the importance of co-developing and keeping care plans updated, when supporting people in our services.

'We will learn from this complaint. We are currently increasing our focus on the quality of our care planning, ensuring the all-important risk assessments are complete and up-to-date.

'As part of our trust's aim to be a learning organisation, we regularly review findings from serious incidents.'

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