Family of Ipswich fashion student, 21, to sue health trust after his tragic death
PUBLISHED: 18:09 10 January 2019 | UPDATED: 19:47 10 January 2019
The family of a young Ipswich man who they say was let down by Suffolk's mental health trust before his death are to begin court action against them.
In 2016 Henry Curtis Williams, 21, was taking a degree in fashion photography at the London College of Fashion in London.
In May that year, after celebrating his birthday with his family, he set off apparently back to London. But instead, he was found by a police officer by the Orwell Bridge and taken to the Woodlands unit in Ipswich, which deals with psychiatric illness.
He agreed to a voluntary admission, but asked to be transferred to another ward. At that time his mother worked with the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, of which Woodlands is a part.
Mr Curtis-Williams was diagnosed as suffering from an adjustment disorder and was considered a low suicide risk. He was discharged the next day by a junior doctor, and without the supervision of a senior consultant psychiatrist, it is claimed.
Following his discharge, Mr Curtis-Williams returned to London. The NSFT rang the West London Mental Health NHS Trust (WLMHT) about him, but it is said neither trust has a record of the call. They also faxed an assessment of his condition to the WLMHT, but they could not download it.
Four days later Henry attended an appointment with his GP in London. He was prescribed anti-depressants and his GP made an urgent referral to the local crisis team for a response within 24 hours.
The team attempted to contact Mr Curtis-Williams the next day, but sadly, he was found hanged in Acton Cemetery.
His family say they were not informed of the severe depressive disorder and or his admission to hospital. His parents were informed of this by his GP in London several weeks after his death.
At an inquest held in November, the assistant coroner for West London, Dr Sean Cummings, found that he had taken his own life by hanging.
He advised that he would be releasing a ‘regulation 28 report’, to prevent future deaths, dealing with his concerns.
Those concerns included a lack of recording contemporaneous notes, Henry’s being discharged by a junior doctor without a consultant or senior colleague’s approval, and informal communication taking place between staff members without any record being kept.
The family’s lawyer, medical negligence specialist Kate Smith, of Ashtons Legal, said: “Henry’s inquest in November was understandably a very difficult day for his family. It was clear as evidence was heard that there were concerns about not only Henry’s admission, but also that no audit of the recommendations of the NSFT’s serious incident investigation report had been carried out.
“Clearly these were concerns shared with the coroner, who decided that it was necessary to complete a regulation 28 report.”
Stuart Richardson, chief operating officer of NSFT, said: “Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust would again like to express its most sincere condolences to the family of Henry Curtis-Williams. They have our deepest sympathy.
“The Trust undertook a detailed review following the sad death of Mr Curtis-Williams and implemented several changes, based on the findings of that investigation.
“In addition, Her Majesty’s Coroner made a Regulation 28 report at the inquest in respect of matters he regarded concerning, and as such we are in the process of responding to that report.”