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Death Raises ‘Serious Concern’ About Quality Of Care At Doncaster Mental Health Hospital

Narrative Verdict At Inquest Into Death Of Man at Doncaster Hospital


By Dave Grimshaw

The family of a man who committed suicide at a Doncaster hospital have today vowed to continue battling for answers amidst concerns about the care he received in the days before his death.

Frank Postle was admitted to St Catherine’s Hospital Mental Health Unit in January 2010 following a suicide attempt at his home in Armthorpe, Doncaster.

But the 48-year-old’s family say that despite him pleading with staff not to send him home Frank was released for a home visit on February 4, 2010 where his erratic behaviour prompted relatives to call the community mental health crisis team.

The father-of-four was readmitted to St Catherine’s hospital on February 7 2010, and on February 11 2010 was found dead in his room by the Doncaster hospital’s staff after he hanged himself using the bed sheets in his room.

An inquest investigating the circumstances surrounding his death concluded today at Doncaster Coroner’s Court with a narrative verdict.

Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell representing the family in their battle for answers from the Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust say they remain ‘seriously concerned’ about the care Frank received in the days leading up to his death.

Rachel Brown, Solicitor from the firm’s Sheffield office said: “Frank was a loving father of four who had turned to medical professionals for help. His children in particular have been deeply shocked by his death and are very concerned about the care he received and whether more could have been done to save him.”

Rachel went on to explain that on admission to the mental health unit Frank’s notes stated that he had an ‘unpredictable nature’ and was at high risk of suicide.

She said: “According to Frank’s medical records he had repeatedly told medical staff that he was extremely worried about being released – a concern echoed by his children to his medical team reporting that he had again threatened suicide in conversations with them. But, despite all of this, the decision was taken to send him home on a weekend visit.”

It was during this time at home that Frank locked himself in his house having said goodbye to his family, forcing them to call on the police and the Community Crisis Team for help.

Rachel continued: “The inquest today has gone some way to answering the many questions that the Postle family have about the care Frank received during his admission to St Catherine’s but they remain seriously concerned whether more could have been done to prevent his tragic death.

“The family are especially worried about how concerns about his welfare were communicated amongst staff, as well as the level of observation and assessment that he received in the days prior to his weekend leave and on his return to the hospital after his further suicide attempt at home.”

Frank’s son, Craig Postle, 27 from Doncaster said: “My family is devastated by Dad’s death. It has been extremely difficult to come to terms with and we are really worried about the care he received at the hospital.

“You place your trust in the professionals and we thought he would be well looked after, so when we got the phone call saying he was dead we were heartbroken and confused.

“We are determined to get to the bottom of what happened to him and to understand once and for all whether more could have been done to save him.

“We also want to make sure that no one has to suffer as we have in the future and so it’s really important that any lessons that have been learnt are shared across the NHS.”

Irwin Mitchell’s Rachel Brown confirmed that proceedings have been issued against the Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust.

She said: “Further to the conclusion of the inquest here today we will be supporting the Postle family as they look to further understand exactly what happened and the care Frank received in the days prior to his death and how the family come to terms with his death.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Medical Negligence claims.