Leeds & West Yorkshire

Police officer Andrea Shelton died after Wakefield hospital failings

Pinderfields Hospital
Image caption Mrs Shelton's family are pursuing a damages claim against the hospital trust

"Gross failures" by hospital staff led to the death of a police officer who killed herself, a coroner said.

Andrea Jayne Shelton was found hanging in a toilet block at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield in January 2011.

An inquest in Wakefield heard the 45-year-old had not been properly assessed after she was admitted following a suicide attempt at home.

The coroner criticised the hospital trust and called for changes. The trust said it would review his findings.

'Gross failures'

Mrs Shelton, an officer with South Yorkshire Police, was admitted to Pontefract General Infirmary and later transferred to Pinderfields Hospital after cutting her wrists and stabbing herself in the groin.

West Yorkshire coroner David Hinchliff recorded a narrative verdict in which he listed 14 failings by hospital staff.

They included the failure at Pontefract to identify Mrs Shelton's groin injury, delaying her treatment, and the failure to assess her psychiatric state.

The coroner said there had been "gross failures to provide Jayne with appropriate care and attention regarding her mental health and I consider that her death could have been avoided".

Paul Sankey, a solicitor for the Shelton family, said after the hearing: "They're devastated by her loss and they are devastated that her death was entirely avoidable."

He said he was pursuing a damages claim against the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust which runs both hospitals.

Computer worries

Dr Richard Jenkins, medical director at the trust, said it recognised there had been failings in Mrs Shelton's care and apologised to her family.

He said: "We carried out a thorough investigation into the events around Mrs Shelton's death and as a result we made changes to improve the care of patients who are at risk of harming themselves.

"We will now review the coroner's findings in detail and continue to work with our local partners in mental health to lessen the likelihood of similar events happening again."

The court heard Mrs Shelton had been suffering from sleepless nights worrying about a new computer system being brought in at work.

A police spokesman said after the inquest that it always placed the welfare of its staff as an "extremely high priority".

He added: "This will have been an extremely distressing period for Andrea's family and our thoughts are with them at this time."

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