'Determined, brave' Suffolk woman's inquest hears concerns over care

Concerns were raised about mental health care provided to Natasha Webb

Concerns were raised about mental health care provided to Natasha Webb - Credit: Archant

The family of a "determined, hardworking and brave" 22-year-old Ipswich woman has raised concerns about the care she received from mental health services prior to her death. 

Healthcare assistant Natasha Webb was found in a semi-conscious state close to Fox’s Marina and Boatyard on The Strand, Ipswich opposite the Oyster Reach pub shortly after 11pm on September 2. 

Her condition deteriorated in the ambulance on the way to Ipswich Hospital, in Heath Road, and paramedics made attempts to resuscitate her before she was transferred to the care of the hospital. 

She was declared dead at 4.40am on September 3. 

A toxicological analysis conducted by Dr Olga Gronowska-Szczecina revealed a number of medications in her blood. 

The inquest at Suffolk Coroners Court on Wednesday also heard her mother Sarah Webb raise a number of concerns about the care she received from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

In a statement, she questioned the medication she was prescribed, particularly diazepam, the time it took to arrange an appointment with mental health services and her diagnosis and care plan. 

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Family members present at the hearing, including Natasha’s father Ian Hammond and stepmother Lois Hammond, also asked why she hadn’t been sectioned under the Mental Health Act, which would have meant she would have been kept in hospital. 

Danielle Peake, a senior community mental health nurse with NSFT, who was also Natasha’s care coordinator, said the personality of the artist and musician, who lived in Pearson Road, Ipswich would often change and sometimes she would be capable of making a decision. 

She said "taking somebody’s liberty was a last resort," adding: “She had a lot of assessments under the Mental Health Act to assess whether she had got capacity and if somebody has got capacity, it makes it difficult for them to be sectioned.” 

The inquest heard her mental health declined during her teenage years following her parents’ separation and she began self-harming, while she was diagnosed with anorexia. 

The textile artist, who played cello and guitar, spent time at mental health institutions, including Woodlands clinic at Ipswich Hospital. 

However, despite her difficulties, she had become a healthcare assistant during the COVID-19 pandemic with hopes of becoming a nurse, the hearing heard. 

Her mother said: “Natasha was very determined and hard working. She had good friends and we miss her terribly. 

“She had strong views and believed in equality. She was brave in overcoming her difficulties.” 

Addressing her family, Nigel Parsley, senior coroner for Suffolk, said: “It is a terrible case when you lose such a young loved one in such terrible circumstances and I am sure you look back and say, ‘is there anything else we could have done?’ and if I am honest, I don’t think there is anything else you could have done. 

“It is just one of those really really tragic cases.”

If you need urgent mental health support call NHS 111 and select option 2 or the Samaritans on 116 123. Both services are available 24 hours 7 days a week.