Cambridgeshire

Mental health patient 'set herself on fire' with lighter

Heather Loveridge Image copyright PA
Image caption Heather Loveridge had set fire to herself before, the inquest heard

A mother-of-four died after being found engulfed in flames in her room at a mental health unit, an inquest heard.

Heather Loveridge, 56, of Newmarket, a voluntary patient at the Cavell Centre in Peterborough, set herself alight with a cigarette lighter she had in her handbag, the inquest jury was told.

Mrs Loveridge, who had psychotic depression, died two days later on 19 August 2016.

Cambridgeshire's assistant coroner said the handbag had not been searched.

Mrs Loveridge was found in her bedroom's en-suite toilet one day after being voluntarily admitted to the ward.

She died in the specialist burns unit at Broomfield Hospital, in Chelmsford, Essex.

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"It seems her handbag was not searched on admission to... the Cavell Centre, and at some stage was returned to her," assistant coroner Belinda Cheney told the inquest at Huntingdon Town Hall.

"Staff investigated and found Mrs Loveridge had set fire to herself in the toilet of her bedroom and her hair and clothes were on fire," she said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mrs Loveridge died in a specialist burns unit two days after setting herself alight

Mrs Loveridge's daughter, also called Heather, told the jury her mother had set fire to herself in 2013 when she was an in-patient at Fulbourn Hospital mental health facility near Cambridge.

She said she had told the Cavell Centre about the incident.

"I asked for reassurance they wouldn't let the same thing happen again," she said in a statement read to the inquest.

However, the family later received a phone call "saying there had been an incident and mum had set fire to herself again".

Dr Kris Owden, a registrar at the Cavell Centre, was asked by coroner Ms Cheney if people were allowed to have lighters on psychiatric wards, to which he replied "no".

The Cavell Centre is run by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.

The inquest continues.

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