A & E Suicide Fatality case settles for £150,000

In March of last year we reported that two local NHS Trusts had admitted liability for substandard treatment of Simon Willson, who died on 23.01.10, at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, Canterbury, aged just 34, when he took his life by hanging himself with his belt, within the disabled toilet, following admission to hospital having taken an overdose.

The two Trusts involved are the Kent and Medway Social Care Partnership Trust, responsible for Simon’s mental health treatment, and the East Kent University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, responsible for Kent and Canterbury Hospital, Canterbury, including the A&E and Clinical Decision Unit Departments there.

There were various historic failings by the Mental Health Trust as detailed in our earlier article.

Simon was also discharged from St Martin’s psychiatric hospital, prematurely, in January 2010 and there were other community based failings following this.

On the day he died, the Mental Health Community Team failed to check on his welfare and failed to liaise with the A&E team at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, in relation to Simon’s history, upon his being transferred there having taken the overdose.

So far as the Kent and Canterbury Hospital is concerned, there were a succession of failings, following Simon’s admission there, including a failure to adequately assess risk, poor note keeping, Simon not being seen by a doctor, he being transferred to CDU after 4 hours, (still not having seen a doctor), inadequate handover between the Emergency Care Centre and CDU and a failure to monitor and observe him on CDU.

Following the Trusts’ earlier admissions of liability, we have been working hard with the National Health Service Litigation Authority, and their solicitors, in reaching a settlement to the claim and are pleased to report that this has now been achieved and, as of this morning, approved by a Judge at Canterbury County Court.

The total amount payable in compensation is £150,000 for Simon’s family.

Nick Fairweather who had conduct of this matter throughout, commented:-

“I am pleased to see a resolution to this case.  Whilst no amount of compensation can ever bring Simon back, the money will help my client, Simon’s widow, and their daughters financially, now and into the future.  Beyond this, these proceedings have been important, at the Inquest and beyond, in clearly getting answers for the family as to what happened in Simon’s case and how it was that he came to die unnecessarily. Their abiding hope, of course, is that lessons have truly been learned, by both Trusts, so as to lessen the chances of another patient and their family having to suffer in the same way in the future.”