Sussex NHS trust apologises over Sabrina Walsh suicide

Sabrina Walsh
Image caption Sabrina Walsh

A mental health trust has apologised over the death of a patient who took her own life just four hours after arriving at a Sussex unit.

Sabrina Walsh, 32, died in October 2016 at the Woodlands Centre in St Leonards.

An inquest heard a nurse said Ms Walsh should be moved to a secure unit in Crawley after earlier suicide attempts.

A jury in Hastings concluded she fell victim to a "gross failing of medical care" for which Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust apologised.

The hearing was told that after being was sent to Woodlands, an "inadequate and serious failure" in her handover meant staff did not know Ms Walsh was high-risk.

Diane Hull, chief nurse for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Ms Walsh was a vulnerable young woman under our care and she died in tragic circumstances. For that I am sorry."

'Gross failing'

The court heard Ms Walsh, known as Sabby, deliberately hanged herself with a ligature.

She was only checked on once an hour instead of having one-to-one observation - as admission procedures dictate.

Speaking after the inquest Ms Walsh's mother Christine Lavers, said: "Sabby was a highly intelligent, loving and caring young woman, but she was very vulnerable and she was failed.

"There was no care that day. It's horrendous.

"She may still be alive if they actually assessed her and put her on one-to-one observation, she couldn't have harmed herself."

Image caption Woodlands Centre in St Leonards

The jury concluded: "By not following procedures this has had a clear and direct effect on her passing. This is a gross failing of medical care from staff at Woodlands."

Ms Hull said changes, including replacing bathroom doors with ones where there are no ligature points, had been made to "ensure nothing like this can happen again".

There was a similar incident seven years ago when the centre was closed after two suicides within months of each other.

Coroner for East Sussex, James Healy Pratt, said he would be writing a Prevention of Future Deaths Report regarding the ongoing lack of CCTV cameras in the communal areas of the ward.

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