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Mum of university student Henry fears more deaths at troubled mental health trust

Henry Curtis-Williams, who died in 2016 Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Henry Curtis-Williams, who died in 2016 Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

The mother of a 21-year-old fashion student who killed himself after being released from a mental health hospital is "astonished" that Suffolk's mental health trust has been kept in 'special measures' for so long.

Henry with his mum Pippa on his 18th birthday Picture: SUBMITTED BY FAMILYHenry with his mum Pippa on his 18th birthday Picture: SUBMITTED BY FAMILY

Henry Curtis-Williams, from Ipswich, was found dead in London in 2016 - just days after being admitted to Wedgwood House in Bury St Edmunds.

He had been taken to the unit by a police officer who had found him near a bridge in Ipswich.

MORE: 'Groundhog Day' - MP criticises mental health service limbo as trust kept in special measures

Now his mother Pippa Travis-Williams has said she is "incredibly angry" after it was revealed the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) was remaining in special measures. Dubbed the country's worst mental health trust, it has been under intense scrutiny over the past five years.

In its latest inspection, it was found to have made improvements, with experts staying there was "still a way to go".

"I am astonished that this is being allowed to carry on," said Ms Travis-Williams.

"This has been happening ever since the radical reorganisation in July 2013 when Suffolk merged with Norfolk and services were redesigned to the utmost detriment of patients and their families. To say I feel angry doesn't even begin to express my feelings.

"It's not just the negligence towards my own son, which the trust admitted to approximately three years after his death.

"They keep on using this quotation 'lessons have been learned'. But obviously they haven't.

Fashion student Henry Curtis-Williams died aged 21 Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYFashion student Henry Curtis-Williams died aged 21 Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

"It's utterly scandalous. Losing Henry from our family was so painful, we feel it every day and will always miss him beyond words. He was irreplaceable. And yet it continues. People are still dying."

Ms Travis-Williams and her family received a settlement for an undisclosed amount and an apology from NSFT over Henry's treatment in October, three years after his death.

The trust sent the family a letter of admission, and said the standard of care "fell below what Henry was entitled to".

They agreed he should not have been discharged from the mental health unit.

Henry Curtis-Williams with his father Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYHenry Curtis-Williams with his father Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

"But for the discharge, it is accepted that the deceased would not have taken his own life," the letter of admission stated.

MORE: Mental health trust apologises to family over death of Henry, 21

But his mother fears more people will die unless action is taken, and added: "How many lives have been lost?

"One of those souls was my only son, who took his own life in May 2016.

"How many families now have to suffer the eternal consequences of the loss of a loved one, which could have been so easily have been prevented?

Jonathan Warren, chief executive at Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), took up post in April 2019. He apologised to the family of Henry Curtis-Williams for his treatment Photo: NSFTJonathan Warren, chief executive at Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), took up post in April 2019. He apologised to the family of Henry Curtis-Williams for his treatment Photo: NSFT

She added: "These are people's lives, not just unfortunate dots on a spreadsheet.

"Until this is completely addressed and pulled apart, absolutely nothing will change."

Specialist children and young people's mental health services in Suffolk were rated 'inadequate' in the latest inspection, but psychiatric services for young people, at the Dragonfly unit in Carlton Colville, were considered 'outstanding'.

Trust 'sorry' over Henry's death

Former NSFT medical director Dr Bohdan Solomka said in October: "We would again like to express our most sincere and heartfelt condolences to Henry's family following his tragic death in May 2016.

"The trust accepts that some aspects of the care we provided were below the standard we aspire to. We repeat our apology to his family for this.

"Following Henry's death, we undertook a detailed review and implemented improvements that were based on the findings.

"For example, we introduced a new protocol for staff referring service users to out of area services when they are being discharged from our inpatient wards with the objective of ensuring a safe, smooth and seamless handover between two separate providers of mental health services.

"On the wards, we have strengthened the handover process between different shifts so that all staff coming onto duty are immediately given all the relevant information they need to know about each service user, and we have also shared the lessons we have learned from this sad case in a patient safety newsletter which was sent to all staff."

MORE: 'Still more work to do' - health secretary speaks over 'special measures' NHS trust in his own back yard

- Call the Samaritans on 116 123 for help and support.

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