29th April 2020 – Our client, Mrs W, from the Medway towns, has just concluded a long legal battle, successfully, against the Kent & Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust, arising from the death of her husband back in March 2015.
Mrs. W’s husband, M, had some history of mental health problems and
presented acutely to the local A&E department over the Christmas of 2014.
This brought him into contact with the local Mental Health Trust’s community based services, specifically their crisis and community teams.
Initially, the engagement was satisfactory, but as time progressed there were multiple serious failings in the way in which M was looked after and treated.
Many of these failings were repeated or present throughout the period that M was being treated.
The short comings included:-
A failure to adopt a proper care programme; not appointing and retaining a
sufficiently experienced care coordinator; an inappropriate medication
regime: not arranging an early review by and the ongoing involvement of a
senior psychiatrist; the inability of the service to reach a proper diagnosis
using accurate diagnostic formula; appalling record keeping; the failure to
refer M for individual psychological therapy; the wholly inappropriate
involvement of the PDCP service in treating M; a flawed section 136
assessment; a failure to recognise risk levels during successive meetings
and other contact with M.
The end result of this was that M, in despair, ultimately took his own life, by
hanging at the family home.
Mrs. W found him and was caused severe nervous shock and trauma in the
form of PTSD.
The case needed a great deal of care time and sensitivity as we investigated
all of the circumstances surrounding and leading up to M’s death.
Also the effect of finding M on Mrs W.
We instructed a psychiatrist and a community psychiatric nurse, as experts,
to address liability and causation surrounding M, together with a further consultant psychiatrist to assess and report on Mrs. W’s psychiatric condition and prognosis, caused by finding her husband.
Ultimately, a letter of claim was sent to the mental health trust who instructed solicitors who investigated the case then made significant admissions of failings in M’s care.
Further, they conceded that, but for those failings, M would not have been
driven to commit suicide.
They denied, however, that Mrs W was entitled to recover damages for the
psychiatric injury she had been caused.
The parties agreed to try to mediate the case and find a settlement and a
mediation took place in February of this year. After lengthy negotiations
ultimately a settlement was reached in the sum of £170,000.
Nick Fairweather, who had conduct of this matter, on behalf of Mrs W, commented:-
“This is such a tragic case. People are so vulnerable when they succumb to a
period of mental health illness and it is imperative that they and their families have proper care, support and treatment during such episodes. Sadly, that was lacking at all points and in practically in all aspects of the service delivery that M received. Ultimately, in despair, he took his own life. This was a truly avoidable tragedy. No amount of money can ever bring M back but I am pleased and proud of Mrs W in having the fortitude to take on the Mental Health Trust and get full justice for M. I think that he would be very proud of her as well”.
“The death of my husband was absolutely devastating. I would like to thank
Nick Fairweather and his staff for their compassionate and caring manner
from beginning to end of my lengthy and traumatic fight for justice. The
professional and correct care that my husband was entitled to he did not
receive. I do hope that valuable lessons are learnt by the many failings in his care and that it never happens again. The heartache suicide leaves is
unbearable, especially when someone desperate bravely reaches out for
help and is failed.”