Article by James Gillespie Published: 13.08.2017
A mentally ill man killed himself by jumping from a motorway bridge after he was sent home from an A&E department five times on the day he died.
At one point Peter Franklin, 67, was prevented from jumping to his death by a taxi driver who had been asked by the hospital to take him home. The driver took Franklin, who has four children, back to A&E, whose staff sent him home again. Shortly afterwards he committed suicide.
His widow, Lynne, 60, believes A&E departments must improve their mental health provision.
Lynne Franklin, from Meopham, Kent, has won a settlement from two NHS trusts over the way her husband’s obvious distress and suicidal intentions on the day he died in August 2013 were not treated properly at Maidstone Hospital.
“They clearly let him down,” she said last week, accusing the hospital of “fobbing him off”.
She added: “The taxi driver was absolutely amazing. At A&E it was a bit like: oh no, not you again.”
On the last day of his life Franklin, who suffered from acute anxiety and depression, was assessed and given an appointment with the mental health team for the following day. He was deemed not to need in-patient care or sectioning.
His widow wants to see an expansion in therapy options rather than a reliance on drugs as well as better mental health liaison at A&E departments.
Nick Fairweather, the solicitor who represented her and is a specialist in medical negligence cases, said: “The failings of…treatment of people suffering mental health problems in A&E is recurrent yet relatively easy to remedy through better co-working between acute and mental health trusts.”
Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership, which provides mental health services, said: “After the sad death of Peter, an internal investigation was carried out and action taken. We improved processes that address the identification and management of risk across the 24-hour period.”
Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust said: “We would like to extend our sincerest apologies to the family. We have actively fostered closer working relationships with our partner healthcare organisations [since then].”
Reproduced with the kind permission of the Sunday Times