Father of man who took his own life calls for more coordinated mental health services

Richard Bellerby has criticised the trust that treated his son for its 'lack of care'
Sheffield's Northern General Hospital

Richard Bellerby has criticised the trust that treated his son for its 'lack of care'

Sheffield's Northern General Hospital.  Picture: Alamy

The father of a 35-year-old man who took his own life less than 48 hours after nurses discharged him from hospital has pleaded for lessons to be learned about the care of people with mental health problems.

Andrew Bellerby was taken to the emergency department at Sheffield's Northern General Hospital in July 2015.

His father, Richard Bellerby, said that his son was having suicidal thoughts, had cuts to his wrists, had made a number of other recent attempts and was threatening to jump from a fifth floor window but mental health nurses decided he was not a risk and discharged him.

Mr Bellerby said that his son took his own life less than two days later.

Legal action

After a two-and-half year battle, Mr Bellerby said Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust (SHSCFT) has now settled a legal action and he has received an apology for failings that it has admitted, although the trust does not admit that these failings caused Andrew's death.

From his late teens Andrew had struggled with substance abuse and he had ended up in a rehabilitation centre in Sheffield.

Despite better periods, he had an ongoing struggle with addiction and mental health issues, including depression and paranoia.

When Andrew ended up in hospital in July 2015 he was discharged after two nurses used the Crisis Triage Rating Scale (CTRS) as part of their assessment of him and deemed him not to be a risk, Mr Bellerby said.

He added the trust's internal investigation found the nurses were not trained to carry out the CTRS assessment.

Coordinating care

'That was just the last thing that happened before he took his life,' Mr Bellerby said. 'It was a lack of care throughout the process of that particular trust dealing with our son's care.'

Mr Bellerby said his son had more than a decade of contact with many different mental health and addiction-related services in Sheffield but likened their involvement to 'musicians in a orchestra, all trained to play their instruments, all reading off their sheets but no conductor, nobody pulling it all together'.

He said he believes his son needed an appropriate doctor to be clearly responsible for his coordinated care and that he believes this lack of coordination is a problem across mental health services more generally.

Life worth nothing

He also criticised the attitude of SHSCFT following his son's death, even down to the tenor of the letter of apology he eventually received earlier this year.

He said: 'The experience has left us feeling that our son's life was worth nothing to the NHS and those responsible for Andrew's care.'

The family's solicitor Samuel Hill said the legal action was not about the money and the final financial settlement is small.

Mr Hill said: 'It was to ensure the trust was aware of what happened, to ensure the trust was aware of its failings and, ultimately, to make sure somebody else doesn't go through this situation.'

Poor practice

SHSCFT chief executive Kevan Taylor said: 'We would like to, once again, offer our sincere condolences to the family of Mr Bellerby.'

He confirmed that an internal investigation highlighted 'some areas where the delivery of care could be improved' and that actions identified have now been addressed.

Mr Taylor said: 'While we are unable to comment on individual cases, I can confirm that the investigation findings and recommendations were shared with Mr Bellerby's family.

'We would like to reiterate our apology to them for the areas of poor practice identified by the investigation.'

Need help?

If you or anyone you know have been affected by the issues in this story, call Samaritans on 116 123. The line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week

If you are a nurse or nursing student experiencing a mental health concern, you can contact the RCN's confidential counselling service on 0345 772 6100


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