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

PUBLISHED: 18:01 15 October 2019 | UPDATED: 18:53 15 October 2019

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

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

Archant

The family of an Ipswich man who took his own life after being released from a mental health unit have received an apology three years after his death.

Henry Curtis-Williams was found dead in London Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYHenry Curtis-Williams was found dead in London Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Henry Curtis-Williams was 21 when he was found dead in London in 2016 - days after being released from the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT)'s Wedgwood House mental health unit in Bury St Edmunds.

He had been taken to the unit by a police officer who had found him near the Orwell Bridge.

However, Henry was discharged from the centre the next day by a junior doctor who had been in his first year of psychiatric training.

The 21-year-old returned to London and visited his local GP but was found dead several days later.

Fashion student Henry was just 21 when he died Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYFashion student Henry was just 21 when he died Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

His family say they were never informed of his admission to hospital - or of his severe depressive disorder.

An inquest into Henry's death was held in West London in November 2018.

Coroner Dr Sean Cummings found that Henry had taken his own life.

The family later took civil action against the NSFT - and they have now had the case settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

Henry Curtis-Williams died by suicide in 2016, coroner Sean Cummings concluded Picture: SUPPLIED BY ASHTONS LEGALHenry Curtis-Williams died by suicide in 2016, coroner Sean Cummings concluded Picture: SUPPLIED BY ASHTONS LEGAL

'Standard of care fell below what Henry was entitled to'

In a letter of admission, trust bosses said: "In light of findings of the inquest, we can confirm for the purpose of this action alone that breach of duty is admitted in that the deceased was incorrectly discharged from the trust and should have been detained.

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

A letter of apology has now also been sent to Henry's family by Jonathan Warren, chief executive of the trust.

Henry with his father, Stuart Curtis Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYHenry with his father, Stuart Curtis Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

In it, Mr Warren said he was aware "the standard of care provided to Henry fell below that which he was entitled to".

'Settlement in no way reflects loss of our son'

Henry's parents Stuart Curtis and Pippa Travis-Willliams said in a statement: "The menial settlement amount offered by the trust does, in no way, reflect the loss of our son.

"Nor does it reflect the long term suffering inflicted on the whole family resulting from our bereavement, which could so easily have been prevented had the trust professionally safeguarded Henry at the time of his admission to their care.

"We have been awarded just about enough for a second-hand car each. It is appalling and shocking, but no reflection on Ashtons' legal expertise."

What did NSFT bosses have to say?

NSFT's medical director Dr Bohdan Solomka said: "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.

"In January this year, the family's solicitor made clear an intention to make a claim for compensation. It was agreed at that point that our trust would review the case with a view to making a decision on liability without receipt of a formal letter of claim (which would incur costs to the family). On April 12, the trust agreed with its insurer to settle the matter and this was done in August.

"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."

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