Jonathan Meaney: Coroner slams mental health trust after man commits suicide following 40 hour wait for bed

PUBLISHED: 11:09 03 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:22 04 October 2017

St Pancras coroner Mary Hassell has criticised Camden and Islington NHS Trust for failing to find a bed for a

St Pancras coroner Mary Hassell has criticised Camden and Islington NHS Trust for failing to find a bed for a "seriously ill" man who had waited 40 hours before going on to commit suicide. Picture: PA/Anthony Devlin

PA Archive/PA Images

A coroner has slammed an NHS mental health trust over its care of a man who committed suicide after waiting 40 hours for a hospital bed.

On Monday, March 13 Jonathan Meaney was taken to the Royal Free’s A&E department after taking an overdose.

A junior doctor from the Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust’s psychiatry team assessed him in the early hours of Tuesday morning and Mr Meaney agreed with the doctor he needed to be admitted.

However, he was told no bed could be found for him.

By the next day the 50-year-old was still waiting for a bed but was eventually told one was unavailable. At that point he told a mental health nurse sent in to assess him he wanted to leave.

But the nurse who assessed Mr Meaney failed to question the patient’s assertion he hadn’t intended to take the overdose in spite of his having told the doctor he had been trying to kill himself and had written notes to that effect.

The same nurse then assessed Mr Meaney as being rational and having good insight whereas at an inquest he said he knew his patient’s illness was mental and not physical.

The nurse then failed to consult other members of the psychiatry liaison team before clearing Mr Meaney as being fit for discharge.

Mr Meaney went home and the next day he took his life.

St Pancras coroner Mary Hassell has issued a prevention of future deaths report raising concerns about a lack of urgency in finding a bed.

“Mr Meaney waited in the emergency unit for 40 hours and so it was unsurprising he was then keen to go home,” the report states.

It adds: “There seemed no urgency about the need for a bed for such a seriously ill man.”

At the inquest it emerged the doctor who made the initial assessment said she would have detained Mr Meaney under the Mental Health Act if he had refused to be admitted.

A Trust spokesman said: “Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust would like to offer our sincere condolences to Mr Meaney’s family for their tragic loss.

“Our priority is the safety of our service users and we take the issues raised extremely seriously. We are conducting a detailed review and will be formally responding to the Coroner in respect of action we need to take as a result,” he added.

The Trust has until October 23 to respond.


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