South Shields Mum And Medical Negligence Lawyers Call For Lessons To Be Learned
A Health Trust has been ordered to take action after a coroner concluded a mentally ill man died on Sunderland’s Wearmouth Bridge following “a number of failings” in his care.
Daniel Futers, who had a history of mental illness, fell to his death while on leave to his family from Hopewood Park hospital in Sunderland. He was due to return to the Ryhope hospital the following day.
In the days before the 31-year-old’s death his mum, Dawn Futers, called the unit a number of times concerned that Daniel seemed anxious. However, she was given reassurance by hospital staff, an inquest was told.
Daniel's family asks medical negligence lawyers to help establish answers following his death
Following Daniel’s death his family instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his care under on Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and help secure answers.
Dawn, 56, of South Shields has now joined her legal team in calling for lessons to be learned. She’s also spoken of her disappointment at the Trust’s response to the coroner’s findings.
Coroner issues prevention of future deaths report after finding issues in Daniel's mental health care
It comes after coroner Derek Winter recorded a narrative conclusion in which he said Daniel “took his own life in part because the complexity of his condition was not fully appreciated, and appropriate precautions were not in place to prevent him from doing so.”
Mr Winter issued a prevention of future deaths report calling on Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust to set out what action it would take to improve patient safety.
However, the Trust has responded to the coroner saying it was “disappointed” at the report. It added Daniel’s care was “appropriate” and it already had “appropriate systems and safeguards in place”.
Legal expert calls for lessons to be learned to improve patient safety
Joe Haley, the medical negligence expert at Irwin Mitchell representing Dawn, said: “Dawn and the rest of Daniel’s family remain devastated by his death and the circumstances surrounding it.
“Sadly the inquest found failings in Daniel’s care with the coroner concerned enough to order the Trust to set out what action should be taken to prevent future deaths.
“Dawn is particularly upset by the Trust’s response to this and believes more still needs to be done to protect others.
“People under the care of mental health services are some of society’s most vulnerable and it’s vital that the highest standards of patient safety are maintained at all times.
“We join Dawn in calling for lessons to be learned from Daniel’s death and continue to support the family at this distressing time.”
Mental health: Daniel Futers' story
Daniel, who had a brother David, 34, had been known to mental health services since 2008. He had been admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act several times between 2014 and 2020. Each time he was diagnosed as suffering from psychosis and schizophrenia.
Daniel was admitted to Hopewood Park on 26 February, 2022, and placed on the Beckfield ward – a psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU).
After being allowed out of hospital on escorted day leave, plans were made for Daniel to be allowed a week-long home visit ahead of being released permanently.
On 29 March – the day before he was due home – Dawn raised concerns Daniel seemed anxious. However, she was reassured and Daniel’s leave went ahead during which he would return to the hospital to receive medication.
Dawn continued to express concerns about her son. On 1 April Daniel was supposed to receive his medication but Trust staff were unable to make the appointment. He was told to return the following day, Sunderland Coroner’s Court was told.
On 2 April Daniel received his medication. Later that day Dawn phoned the hospital raising concerns about Daniel, the hearing was told.
Three days later, on 5 April, he was seen on Wearmouth Bridge. Emergency services were called. Daniel was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.
The coroner found there had been “a number of failings” in Daniel’s mental health care and treatment “in particular the management of his leave from Hopewood Park and his prospective discharge from state detention.”
Mum Dawn pays tribute to son as she campaigns to improve mental health services
Dawn said: “It’s almost impossible to find the words to describe the hurt and pain our family feel following Daniel’s death. He was loved by all his family and there’s not a day goes by that we don’t miss him and think about him.
“Daniel was a loving and caring person but had struggled with mental illness over the years. Before his death he initially had seemed better in himself. We hoped he had turned a corner and would soon be able to come back permanently to his family and we could try and put the past behind us. However, in the build up to his leave and once back home he didn’t seem right. He seemed agitated and anxious and didn’t really know what to do with his time.
“However, each time I called the hospital I was told everything was okay and there wasn’t anything to worry about.
“What happened to Daniel is something that will stay with us all forever and is something we’ll never get over. The hardest thing to try and come to terms with is that when Daniel needed help the most he was let down. It felt like the hospital wasn’t really listening to my concerns despite being Daniel’s mum and knowing him better than anyone.
“We’re extremely upset at the Trust’s response to the coroner. Daniel wasn’t a statistic he was a human being who deserved to receive the care he needed to get better. We’re struggling to understand how the Hospital Trust can say it already has measures in place when the inquest identified failings and the coroner said action is needed to stop others dying like Daniel did.
“We’d do anything not to be in this position and have Daniel back in our lives but I know that’s not possible.
“By speaking out we hope we can help improve mental health services so other families don’t have to suffer like we are.”
Find out more about our expertise in supporting families affected by care issues at our dedicated medical negligence section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.