Woman found dead in refuge ‘let down’ by system

King's Lynn coroners court, at Ikon Bishop's House on the Tuesday Market Place Picture: Chris Bisho

King's Lynn coroners court, at Ikon Bishop's House on the Tuesday Market Place Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

A 58-year-old woman who was found dead at a women's refuge was let down by the system, her family say.

Nurse Elizabeth Thompson was found in her flat at the safe house in Gorleston on Tuesday, July 2 last year.

An inquest into her death heard she suffered anxiety and depression and was given a flat at the refuge, run by domestic abuse support group Leeway, on June 7.

The court heard Ms Thompson had been admitted to the James Paget University Hospital on June 27.

In a statement, emergency consultant Jim Crawford said she appeared to be suffering from a chronic asthma attack and was discharged after treatment.

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He said her notes recorded no sign of any mental health problem or suicidal intent.

The inquest at King's Lynn coroner's court heard Ms Thompson had spent time under the care of crisis and community mental health teams after taking an overdose on March 4.

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She was last spoken to by her key worker on Friday, June 28, when she called through the door that she was okay.

No checks were carried out over the weekend. Staff broke into Ms Thompson's flat on the Tuesday morning when there was no answer and found her unresponsive on the floor.

Jacqueline Lake, Norfolk's senior coroner, concluded she had cut herself and died as a result. She said she had not reached a conclusion of suicide, because she had heard no evidence of intent.

Ms Thompson's three children Matthew, Celline and Lewys Day, from Accrington, Lancs, were in court for the hearing. Afterwards, they said they felt a closer eye should have been kept on their mother because she was in a low mood and had previously taken an overdose.

Matthew, 32, said: "I think the system let my mother down. There was no safeguarding, she was in a property on her own with access to knives. The NHS should have helped her. She should have been on psychiatric ward."

A spokesman for Leeway said: "On behalf of Leeway we would like to express our sincere condolences to the family of Elizabeth Thompson who tragically died on July 2, 2019, while residing at one of Leeway Refuges.

"Leeway is a charity providing emergency accommodation for people fleeing domestic abuse. Where additional support needs are identified, Leeway refers the service user to the appropriate statutory agency to provide the support that is needed."

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