A private psychiatric hospital provided “inadequate care” for a woman who killed herself by swallowing a poisonous substance, a jury has found.
Beth Matthews, a mental health blogger, was being treated as an NHS patient for a personality disorder at the Priory hospital Cheadle Royal in Stockport.
The 26-year-old, originally from Cornwall, opened the substance, which she had ordered online, in close proximity to two members of staff and told them it was protein powder, BBC News reported.
An inquest jury concluded she died from suicide contributed to by neglect, after hearing Matthews was considered a high suicide risk. She had a history of frequent suicide attempts, the inquest heard.
A BBC News investigation also found that two other young women died at the Priory in Stockport in the two months before her death.
A spokesperson for the Priory Group said: “We fully accept the jury’s findings and acknowledge that far greater attention should have been given to Beth’s care plan.
“At the time of Beth’s unexpected death, we took immediate steps to address the issues around how we document risk and communicate patients’ care plans, alongside our processes for receiving and opening post.
“We want to extend our deepest condolences to Beth’s family and friends for their loss. Beth’s attempts to overcome her mental health challenges had been an inspiration for many. Although unexpected deaths are extremely rare, we recognise that every loss of life in our care is a tragedy.”
Matthews had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act last March and was not supposed to be allowed to open her own mail, the inquest at Manchester South cornoner’s court was told.
Jurors also heard how only weeks before her death she told a Priory employee that she could order something “to do the job”.
The jury found “it was evident there were serious inconsistencies across all levels of her care plan” while she was a patient at the facility. The Priory Group admitted her plan had not been followed.
Matthews was described in court as “vivacious” and “bright” and had tens of thousands of social media followers due to her blogging.
The assistant coroner Andrew Bridgman offered his condolences to her family and, after the jurors’ verdict, concluded: “There are no words to express for the loss of your daughter. The loss of a child is something no person should have to suffer.”
In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123, or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at befrienders.org.