A 20-year-old woman named Lauren from Bournemouth tragically passed away while under the care of a psychiatric unit located 250 miles away from her home. The circumstances surrounding her care have come under scrutiny during an inquest into her death.
Lauren was discovered unconscious in a bathroom at a privately-run hospital in Stockport on February 24 of the preceding year. Following this discovery, she was urgently transferred to Wythenshawe Hospital due to a cardiac arrest. Despite efforts to save her, life support was eventually withdrawn, leading to her passing two days later.
Lauren had been placed in the Pankhurst unit, a psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU), at Cheadle Royal in July 2021, under the mental health act. Her tragic end followed a series of distressing events.
Her mother shared that Lauren had pleaded with her to be released just days before her demise, emphasizing the emotional toll her detention had taken on her and their family.
Dr. Hari Kumar Sholinghur, Lauren’s psychiatrist at Priory Cheadle, provided testimony during the inquest. He revealed that in September 2021, the medical team overseeing Lauren’s care believed she was ready for a transition to a different unit closer to her family’s home. However, logistical challenges in securing a suitable bed at a nearby unit contributed to delays, potentially affecting her mental state.
Assistant Coroner Andrew Bridgman highlighted the importance of timely transitions and suggested that the delay may have had an impact on Lauren’s well-being. Dr. Sholinghur noted that while considering alternative units, their primary concern was keeping her away from home.
The responsibility of finding a suitable unit fell to the authorities in Dorset, who commissioned Lauren’s care. Dr. Sholinghur stated that The Priory was not involved in this search to avoid any potential conflict of interest.
Dr. Sholinghur expressed his dissatisfaction with the prioritization of Lauren’s case, emphasizing the need for a higher urgency. He consistently stressed the importance of finding the right environment for her.
During her stay, fluctuations in Lauren’s condition and her susceptibility to exploitation by peers were noted. Dr. Sholinghur identified Lauren’s desire for acceptance as a vulnerability. He pointed out instances of collusion and potentially exploitative behavior among peers, indicating a need for protection.
Mr. Bridgman, the coroner, referred to incidents involving Lauren colluding with other patients, possibly leading to self-harm and physical assault. Dr. Sholinghur acknowledged that such exploitation was a possibility and highlighted the hospital’s safeguarding team, responsible for protecting patients from various forms of abuse and exploitation.
Regarding a medication incident, Lauren had been educated about seeking support and guidance from staff. The case underscores the vulnerability of patients and the hospital’s responsibility to ensure their protection.
In light of the tragic events surrounding Lauren’s death, the inquest aims to shed light on the circumstances and decisions that led to her untimely passing.