Coroner’s inquest into teenager’s death as a result of hospital neglect

Tuesday, 04 October 2016 14:55

With the NHS services currently bursting at the seams and mental health issues growing in prominence, the safety of patients is increasingly being put at risk, as exemplified by the case of Chris Brennan.

Chris was 15 years old when he died from asphyxiation in August 2014 under the care of Bethlem Royal Hospital. He was admitted 6 weeks prior to this due to a history of self-harming behaviour and concerns over his safety.

The Coroner found significant failures within the services of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, including a failure to carry out a risk assessment during Chris’ stay at the hospital, lack of an up-to-date care plan and failure to restrict access to items utilised by the patient for self-harm. The Coroner, Selena Lynch found that “Christopher’s actions were in part because of cumulative and continuing failures in risk assessment and management. His death was contributed to by neglect.”

A spokesman for the Hospital Trust said that “areas of learning for the Trust were identified through a serious incident investigation and we have carefully reviewed our procedures accordingly”.

At least 11 young people in England have died between 2010 and 2014 whilst under the care of a psychiatric unit, according to the charity Inquest. The charity’s director, Deborah Coles, said that the state of the mental health services in England for children and young people is a “national scandal” and calls for the government to commission an independent review.

The Health sector is currently stretched to its limits and consequently issues of neglect in medical institutions are a growing concern for patients and their families alike. The demand for mental health care is growing exponentially and consequently pushing the resources of the NHS over the edge. There is an evident call for an expansion of such services in order to accommodate this growing demand.

If you have any concerns about the medical treatment you or a loved one have received please contact one of our specialist Medical Negligence Solicitors, all of whom are experienced in dealing with a broad range of Medical Negligence Claims, for free initial independent advice

Author: Annabelle Turner, Trainee Solicitor, Clinical Negligence Team, Davies and Partners

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