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Family claim death of retired nurse could have been prevented

The family of a retired nurse who died in a fall from a motorway bridge say her death could have been prevented.

The family of a retired nurse who died in a fall from a motorway bridge say her death could have been prevented

Family of retired nurse
The family of Marion Munns outside Winchester Coroner's Court (from left to right)
daughter Angela Mote, husband John Munns and daughter Kim Vella. Picture: Ben Mitchell/PA Wire 

The case of Marion Munns has been a 'wake-up' call for Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, according to Southampton and Western Hampshire coroner Grahame Short.

He concluded that a number of failings had been made by the trust but added that he was satisfied it had amended its practices and did not make further recommendations for improvements.

Depression

The inquest in Winchester heard that the Ms Munns, who was 74, had previously been admitted to the Western Community Hospital in Southampton, Hampshire, for three months in 2014 for depression, but returned home after showing improvement.

However, her condition deteriorated again the following year.

Ms Munns died on 12 November 2015 after she had become distressed and escaped from her Southampton home through an upstairs window before climbing off the garage roof and running away.

Her body was found on the M27 motorway and the inquest was told that she died of severe multiple injuries.

Mr Short ruled that no specific action had led to Ms Munns' death because she was experiencing a manic episode after failing to take her antipsychotic medicine, risperidone.

Care failings

He said the failings identified in her care included no risk assessment, care plan or contingency arrangements in case her condition deteriorated in the way it did.

Recording a narrative verdict, Mr Short said: 'I believe it served as a wake-up call and I am satisfied the steps have been taken to address these shortcomings.

'I believe the older persons mental health team is probably under-resourced to deal with an increasing number of cases such as Marion Munns as the population ages.'

He added that the failure to send out a doctor by the team on the early evening of Ms Munns' death because the office was closing was unfortunate, but said only the emergency services had the resources for such a response.

Legal action

Speaking after the inquest, Ms Munns' family said they were considering legal action against Southern Health.

Daughter Angela Mote said: 'Her death could have been prevented – they missed so many opportunities, so many professionals believed what my mum was saying when that wasn't the right way to look at it, and it could have been prevented.'

Southern Health's interim chief executive Julie Dawes said, in a statement, that an internal investigation had been conducted into Ms Munns' death and resulted in changes to the trust's older people's mental health service.

These include changes to care and crisis planning processes, to how the trust works with patients that find it difficult to engage, and to supervision and support structures.

'I would like to apologise and offer my sincerest condolences to Ms Munns' family during what I know has been a very difficult time,' Ms Dawes added.

'We fully accept the coroner's conclusion and acknowledge that some of the care arrangements for Ms Munns could have been better.'

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