A veterinary nurse who hanged herself after a number of suicide attempts ‘just gave up’ after being repeatedly let down by medics, an inquest heard. Lauren Finch, 23, was found collapsed in her room at Atherleigh Park Hospital on September 17 last year and died a week later. During an inquest into her death jurors were told she made repeated suicide attempts in the preceding months and had escaped the hospital numerous times.Her mother Victoria accused doctors of being ‘dismissive’ and criticised the ‘rollercoaster’ of seeing her daughter discharged time after time ‘without any care arrangements in place’. She told the inquest: ‘She gave up in the end, she had just lost faith.’ The jury at Bolton Coroners’ Court concluded Lauren died as a result of suicide, which was contributed to by a lack of proper assessments or observations.
Coroner Rachel Galloway said she will prepare a prevention of future deaths report to be sent to the North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. The inquest heard Lauren had a history of mental illness and had been diagnosed with depression, anxiety and an ’emotionally unstable personality disorder’. She spent several periods on the hospital’s Westleigh Ward in early 2018 and was discharged just a week after her first admission – a spell Mrs Finch deemed ‘not enough time to make a difference’. Lauren was repeatedly sectioned and then released throughout the following summer following numerous attempts to take her own life. Her mother said she eventually ‘lost trust in the service’ and was at a ‘low ebb’ in the days before she died. Lauren managed to escape twice more in quick succession during the middle of September last year and was restrained by police officers following a short chase after a third successive break-out days later. Mrs Finch said the incident left her daughter ‘petrified’ and with bruising to her ribs and the side of her body.
The following day Mrs Finch contacted the manager of the ward to say she was unhappy about Lauren’s care and the fact she had been allowed to escape. But a matter of hours later she received the call saying her daughter had been rushed to Royal Bolton Hospital. The inquest heard that in the hours leading up to Lauren’s death staff changed the frequency of observations from every 10 minutes to every 30. After the inquest, John Heritage, chief operating officer at North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Lauren’s family. I appreciate it must be incredibly difficult to sit through a long inquest on top of losing someone you love. ‘We know we made mistakes during Lauren’s care and have openly admitted these failings as part of the inquest process. We wholeheartedly apologise to Lauren’s family for these shortcomings and the understandable distress this has caused. ‘A comprehensive investigation took place immediately after Lauren’s death and changes have been made to help minimise the risk of any similar incidents occurring in the future. ‘We have strengthened our Observation, Safety and Engagement Procedure and over the coming months we are introducing an electronic system which will enable staff to use iPads to update records in real time as observations are carried out.’
Paying tribute to her daughter, Mrs Finch said she was ‘an intelligent, beautiful, caring and kind girl’. She added: ‘Lauren was a gentle soul and the pain of missing her is unbearable. ‘She is missed every day.’