Tyne & Wear

Philip Whiteman hospital escape to be reviewed

Phillip Whiteman
Image caption Philip Whiteman fled the hospital through a toilet window

A review will be carried out after a convicted killer escaped from a psychiatric hospital in Newcastle.

Philip Whiteman, fled St Nicholas Hospital, in Gosforth, on Wednesday morning when he asked to go to the toilet as he was being escorted.

He was found in a pub when he was recognised by a member of the public.

Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust said escorted leave was "rigorously risk assessed" and it would carry out an internal review.

The 44-year-old, previously known as Phillip Westwater, was on a medium-secure ward at the Newcastle hospital after being detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act following a pub fight in 1989.

He later used a dressing gown cord to strangle fellow patient Derek Williams at Ashworth Hospital, Merseyside.

He admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, having become convinced his victim had turned into a black dog.

'Regularly reviewed'

Whiteman was being escorted from his ward to a restaurant on the hospital site when he asked to go to the toilet. He changed his clothes there and escaped.

Northumbria Police said he was located at Bank Bar on Scotswood Road after a member of the public recognised him from a circulated photograph.

In a statement, the trust said: "The trust takes public and patient safety extremely seriously and always strives to provide safe and therapeutic care for patients whilst minimising risks in relation to absconding.

"Planned or escorted leave is an important part of any patient's treatment plan, especially when working towards their recovery.

"Arrangements for escorted leave are rigorously risk assessed, made on an individual basis, and regularly reviewed.

"The decision to grant leave involves the views of the patient's multi-disciplinary clinical team and with appropriate input from the patient, their carers, family members, as well as external agencies such as the police and Ministry of Justice."

The trust said while it had strict procedures in place, it could always learn from individual incidents.

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