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Monday, 22 December 2014

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Cumbrian woman deemed 'low risk' found hanged

A 21-year-old woman deemed a “low suicide risk” was found hanged at her home in Whitehaven.

Alexandra Thompson had been on weekend leave from the Yewdale Ward at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven where she had been monitored for nine days after battling suicidal thoughts following a relationship break-up and abortion, an inquest heard.

Miss Thompson, who had [antidepressant drug] Citalopram in her system as well as diazepam and amphetamine, had a history of low mood swings and regularly self-harmed. She had tried to take her own life on numerous occasions and was offered support by the mental health services, the inquest at Cleator Moor Civic Hall heard.

Miss Thompson had visited a doctor on May 25 last year with her grandfather Albert Nightingale.

She said she had suicidal thoughts, when she was on her own, following the break-up of a relationship, a recent abortion and the misuse of drugs and alcohol.

She was seen by staff from the Crisis Resolution Home Treatment (CRHT) Team and as a result was admitted to hospital as an informal patient. She was initially deemed a “high-suicide risk” following a risk assessment.

During her nine-day stay on the ward Miss Thompson, of Hensingham, had three short arranged visits out with her friends, which were agreed by staff.

On Thursday, June 2 she met with staff nurse Geraldine Pardini and advanced practitioner Nicola Hanlon. It was agreed she would have weekend-long leave which would start on Friday, June 3 and end on Monday, June 6, where she may be discharged permanently. She was found dead at home on June 5.

Mrs Pardini said: “She was very down when she first came in but she improved over the days she was in hospital. She was definitely improving. She was looking forward to the future, to going to college and to see her daughter, she was so relaxed.”

Mrs Hanlon said she believed on June 2 Miss Thompson was at low risk as she had denied having suicidal thoughts and she seemed much brighter in herself.

“When I assessed her I formulated the view that she was ready to go home on her own,” she said.

She said Miss Thompson has told her and Mrs Pardini that she would contact her family about going home.

Following Miss Thompson’s death, a number of changes have been made to support measures for patients.

Stephanie Vaughan, Crisis practitioner nurse, said a new protocol had been put in place, for a “robust care plan”.

She said if crisis staff are not able to contact a patient on leave, they will contact a family member.

If unable to contact patients by this means, an ‘absence without leave’ policy comes into force and the police are immediately contacted.

Katarina Lucia Sangster, Yewdale Ward manager, told the inquest: “We have done lots of training with our ward staff. We have got a different performer for Multi-Disciplinary Team sheets. We also have a different care plan format running.”

The inquest continues.

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