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Lessons to learn after death of Welford man

Bernard Boland

Bernard Boland

A coroner has confirmed she will write to an NHS Trust urging that lessons are learned in the treatment of depressed patients after a father-of-one committed suicide, despite his desperate family’s pleas for him to undergo specialist treatment.

Bernard Boland hanged himself on 23 December last year at Berrywood Hospital in Northampton, after suffering Bi-polar disorder and severe depression for 30 years.

The 70-year-old’s daughter, Lisa Benge, has now instructed medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate whether more could have been done by staff within Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to give her father the treatment he desperately needed.

During an inquest at Northampton Coroner’s Court held on Tuesday senior coroner Anne Pember, heard how Mr Boland’s depression had previously been successfully controlled by receiving regular electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) – where electric shocks are transmitted to the brain that are known to improve mood.

However, on 5 December 2012, Mr Boland’s condition worsened and he admitted to doctors and his family that he had tried to hang himself at home a few days previously and still felt like he wanted to take his own life.

A consultant told Lisa she considered her father to be high-risk and that he needed immediate admission to Berrywood Hospital but the Crisis Team, who assessed all urgent referrals, said Mr Boland could be treated at his home in Welford with drugs, despite Lisa’s pleas that ECT was the only treatment that could help.

It was not until 15 December, 10 days later, that Mr Boland was finally admitted to Berrywood after his condition worsened and he was eventually given ECT on 21 December. However, it was too late and two days later he hanged himself in the shower in his bedroom with his pyjamas.

The coroner recorded a narrative verdict quoting that “insufficient attention was paid to Bernard Boland’s daughter’s view that he had responded to ECT”. She also confirmed that she will write to the CEO of Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust asking that lessons be learned, not only in the hospital but in relation to community care, to cover ECT provision and consideration to the views of the family.

Scott Tolliss, a medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell representing Lisa, added: “This is a tragic case that left a family devastated by the loss of a loving husband and father just days before Christmas.

“Lisa understandably wants answers about whether more could have been done by health professionals in the weeks leading up to her father’s death to protect him and it will also give her some comfort to know improvements have been made by the Trust to protect future patients’ safety following the Coroner’s recommendations.

“We will now continue to work on the family’s behalf to gather information to help provide these answers and hope that the Trust will work with us quickly and amicably so the family can begin the long process of rebuilding their lives.”

 

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