Inquest Finds Christina Edkins' Death 'Preventable'

Access To Mental Health Services May Have Prevented Stabbing


An inquiry into the death of 16-year-old Christina Edkins, who was stabbed on a bus in Birmingham in March 2013, has found that her death could have been prevented if her killer, Phillip Simelane, had been given mental health treatment.

Dr Alison Reed, chair of the review panel, said: "The attack on Christina was random and unprovoked and therefore it could not have been predicted.

"However, it is the conclusion of the panel that as Christina's death was directly related to P's mental illness, it could have been prevented if his mental health needs had been identified and met."

It was discovered that the police, prison service and medical staff had failed to get him the treatment he needed for paranoid schizophrenia. 

The inquiry, commissioned by Birmingham Cross City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), found Simelane’s mental health issues were first spotted when he was at school and that his mother’s requests for social workers and GPs to get him treatment were ignored.

The report made 51 recommendations calling for the improved sharing of mental health information between agencies including the NHS, the police and the prison service. It also called for a specific social services review into how it handled the issues surrounding Simelane and for the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Health to consider providing prisoner health records to GPs after their release.

Birmingham Cross City CCG has said a number of the recommendations have already been implemented.

Expert Opinion
This is a shocking case that illustrates the need for significant improvements in the way mental health issues are identified and treated. In this case a young woman has lost her life due to a series of failings in the way mental health issues are dealt with.

“The lack of help and support available for those suffering from mental health issues in the UK is extremely worrying and it is imperative action is taken to improve access to mental health services for those that need it.

"Improving the identification of mental health issues, communication between agencies and the knowledge of how to refer people to mental health services would all be welcome developments. It is vital action is taken to ensure patients receive the help they require and the strain is reduced on the currently overstretched network of support they rely on.”
Tom Fletcher, Associate

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