Woman's death leads to fresh calls for action at under-fire health trust

FRESH calls have been made for '˜fundamental reform' at an under-fire health trust after the death of another of its patients.

Friday, 1st July 2016, 9:45 am
Updated Friday, 1st July 2016, 10:46 am

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust was criticised at an inquest at Portsmouth Coroner’s Court.

The coroner heard that workers at the trust’s Elmleigh facility in Havant did not follow a care plan for 25-year-old Romy Macleod when she was discharged. She hanged herself five days later.

Fareham MP Suella Fernandes, said reform was needed and called for an investigation. She said: ‘Tragic cases like this are utterly harrowing and need to be fully investigated.

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‘I’ve said many times that Southern Health needs wide-ranging and fundamental reform in order to try and restore the confidence of patients and the public.’

The inquest heard that Romy, of Sharon Close, Fareham, had suffered from severe psychosis since September 2013.

After two failed suicide attempts, last September and just after Christmas, she was sectioned and placed into the mental health hospital in New Lane in January.

Romy stayed there until February 2 when she was discharged following a meeting with hospital workers and her family where it was decided that she would be allowed to leave.

This was on the condition that she was visited by a member of one of the two units that looked after her care every day.

The hearing heard that following her discharge, she was visited only once, on February 3, before she died on February 7.

The inquest revealed that an investigation is now taking place into the actions of the units at the hospital involved in Romy’s care, which were the acute mental health team and the early intervention in psychosis team.

It was also revealed that Romy’s medical records had been updated retrospectively and that appropriate action was being taken.

Dr Lesley Stevens, medical director at Southern Health said: ‘I would like to extend our condolences to Romy’s family and friends.

‘Following a thorough investigation, we have recognised that communication between teams involved in a person’s care must be improved to ensure decisions and plans are always clearly understood and actions are taken decisively, in order to avoid any unnecessary misunderstanding or risk to the patient.’

Romy’s psychosis related to her belief that aliens were telling her to die. But her consultant psychiatrist Dr Adrash Dharendra revealed at the inquest that she was having ‘positive messages’ from the aliens at the time of her discharge.

Romy’s father Colin Macleod said: ‘We thought at the time, why was there an impetus to release her?

‘There seemed to be no coherent plan. The care plan fell apart before it even began. Our alarm bells were ringing.’ Romy’s mother Nina added: ‘We knew something like this was going to happen.’

Coroner David Horsley gave a verdict that Romy had taken her own life while suffering from a long-term psychiatric illness.

He said in his conclusion that there was a ‘breakdown in communication’ between the parties involved.

He added: ‘If things had carried on the same way when she was in the hospital, with the proper supervision, things could well have been different.’