PCT changes demanded after suicide tragedy

Date published: 13 July 2009

OLDHAM coroner Simon Nelson has called for changes in the way patients are referred through the borough’s mental-health services following the death of a Failsworth man.

Patrick Carey, of Lord Lane, was found hanged in January this year. The shock discovery was made by his wife, Eileen,

The 55-year-old father-of-one had a history of anxiety and panic attacks and had been referred to the accident and emergency department at the Royal Oldham Hospital in November, 2008, following a visit to his GP to whom he expressed suicidal thoughts.

He was assessed as low to moderate risk and sent home after being referred to the Initial Assessment and Intervention Service, part of the Pennine Care Trust. On his referral form, it was noted that Mr Carey should be seen urgently.

Mr Carey, who ran his own building business, had spoken of his fear of death and his frustration at not being able to work.

Over the following two months, Mr Carey visited his GP on a number of occasions and was prescribed diazepam and other anti-depressants.

The death of his brother and sister — to whom he was very close — sparked fear in Mr Carey and caused him to worry about every aspect of his day-to-day life.

He asked for a contact number for someone he could ring to talk about his problems in the run up to his counselling appointment but did not receive any information at the hospital.

Mr Carey was given an appointment for January 19 — four days after his death.

His family feel that his death could have been prevented if action was taken sooner to help him with his mental-health problems. Mrs Carey said: “The doctor in A&E said he needed to be seen to urgently and my husband wanted to get help but he did not get this help. There was a break down in communication. I think he was more sick than people realised.”

Mark Rudman, acting manager of the IAIS, said his understanding of the A&E assessment was that Mr Carey presented a low risk and referred him for counselling — a process that can take up to two months due to the amount of referrals received by the department.

Dr Titia Cordia, consultant psychiatrist with the Pennine Care Trust, advised A&E staff on what action to take with Mr Carey but said, in her opinion, he should have had a follow-up appointment within a week.

Mr Nelson ruled out neglect but said there were communication and training issues within the Pennine Care Trust that needed addressing. He concluded that Mr Carey had taken his own life while suffering from a depressive illness.

He added: “Those grey areas into which Mr Carey fell need addressing specifically. I believe Mr Carey should have been seen within a week — he should not have been left waiting for a call that never came, an expectation that was never met.”

Pennine Care Trust has launched an inquiry into the issues surrounding Mr Carey’s death and will use the findings from Friday’s inquest to aid the investigation. Mr Nelson said he will write to the Trust with his observations and will pass their response on to Mr Carey’s family.

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