NHS Trust Criticised by Bereaved Family

NHS Trust Criticised by Bereaved Family  25955

The NHS has been criticised by relatives of a schizophrenia patient who died after overdosing on prescription drugs.

Vivienne Jones suffered an overdose in December 2011 and was therefore admitted to Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

The 55-year-old, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and had self-harmed in the past, was subsequently transferred to the Balmoral psychiatric ward, where her condition started to improve, the Gazette reports.

As a result, staff agreed on January 5th 2012 that she should no longer be kept in hospital under the Mental Health Act.

Ms Jones was discharged and monitored at home, while changes were made to her care plan.

For instance, the patient had asked if she could stop receiving depot injections and this request was granted by Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Healthcare professionals also approved a change to Ms Jones's care plan which stated that her elderly mother Joan would be responsible for ensuring she took her medication. 

However, the patient was found dead at home on the morning of January 6th 2012, just a day after she had left hospital. Subsequent tests revealed that Ms Jones's body contained large concentrations of metformin and quetiapine.

Medical Mistakes

Ms Jones's family argue that the death occurred as a result of a series of medical mistakes made by hospital staff.

For instance, her brother Michael Ellis noted that their mother had cancer at the time and was therefore not in a fit state to be responsible for her daughter's medication.

Indeed, he said she weighed four stone and was unable to walk during this period, which meant she was "never in a position" to take on this role.

“She was told she had no choice but to have Vivienne back home and we understand that, on discharge, Vivienne was handed all her tablets," Mr Ellis commented.

In addition, he pointed out that Ms Jones had been permitted to "make a self-diagnosis in coming off her injections, which she had been on for years, and we were not consulted about that".

"She was a bright, bubbly woman and she was doing fantastic until that point," Mr Jones observed.

"Had that not happened, Vivienne would be here now."

An inquest into Ms Jones's death heard that it could have been an error to make these changes to her care plan.

This possibility was acknowledged by inpatient consultant Peter Smith, who said the hospital was a "very busy place". It's very easy for people to get their wires crossed and for things to slip someone's mind," he remarked.

"I do wonder whether that addition to the care plan was a mistake."

Mr Ellis added that while his sister had gone into hospital to receive help, she had ultimately been let down by the system.

He pointed out that although the family cannot change what has happened, he hopes Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust will learn lessons from the medical mistakes that were made.

"This", he stated, "should help to make sure that no other family has to experience a similar medical tragedy in the future."

By Francesca Witney