Inquest Into Death Of Stephanie Bincliffe While Detained Under Mental Health Act

Irwin Mitchell Represents Family At Inquest

24.11.2014

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

Campaigners today urged the government to review care for people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour after the conclusion of an inquest into the death of a 25-year-old woman who was kept in a padded environment for almost seven years.

Stephanie Bincliffe, who had a learning disability and autism, died in an Assessment and Treatment Unit run by The Huntercombe Group. She was sectioned under the Mental Health Act when she was 18 years old and kept in a padded environment for almost 7 years until her death.  The inquest explored Stephanie’s weight gain during her time in the unit. When she died Stephanie was morbidly obese. She gained ten stone during her time in the unit and yet she had no independent access to food.

An inquest at Hull Coroners Court today a narrative verdict mentioning the lack of a plan to manage Stephanie’s weight but saying that out of the options available, none would have been effective in her case.

Stephanie’s family was represented by law firm Irwin Mitchell at the inquest. The learning disability charities Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation (CBF) are also involved in the case.

Nancy Collins, a specialist solicitor at Irwin Mitchell representing SB’s family at the inquest, said: “This case highlights real concerns about the quality of the care and treatment provided to people with severe learning disabilities, including when they are detained under the mental health act.

“Stephanie was detained for a period of almost seven years throughout which time she did not leave her padded environment, gained 10 stone in weight and had little or no fresh air or exercise.

“Some of the evidence at the inquest criticised the hospital’s management of Stephanie’s physical health and obesity. The evidence highlighted the failure of hospital staff to act in her best interests regarding her weight gain, contrary to the requirements of the Mental Capacity Act. It is imperative that lessons are learned from Stephanie’s tragic death to prevent similar deaths in future.”

“Mencap and the CBF have been campaigning for years to try to shine a light on the difficulties individuals with complex learning disabilities and their families face. At Irwin Mitchell we will continue to fight for the rights of vulnerable people with learning difficulties.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Protecting Your Rights.