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Wife Of Racehorse Owner Found Dead Days After Discharge From Mental Health Hospital Calls For Lessons To Be Learned

Widow Reveals Heartbreak Of Losing Husband Following Inquest Into His Death

09.01.2019

Andrew Hewitt, Press Officer | 0114 274 4255

A widow has called for lessons to be learned after her husband took his life days after doctors discharged him from a mental health hospital, ruling he was at ‘low risk’ of suicide.

Mustafa Khan, who had a history of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) since childhood and depression for around a decade, had been receiving treatment at the Priory North London Hospital in Southgate following his sectioning under the Mental Health Act.

However, following a nine-day stay at the hospital, it was decided that the father-of-two, of Richmond, South-West London, could be released. Three days later, Mustafa, aged 40, was found hanged in woodland near where his family used to live in Horsham, West Sussex.

Following the racehorse owner and trader’s death, his wife Vera, instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to support her through the inquest process.

Vera has now joined her legal team at Irwin Mitchell in calling for lessons to be learned. It comes after an inquest ruled that risk assessments carried out on Mustafa’s admission to The Priory North London Hospital and throughout his stay were ‘poor’ and did not comply with hospital policies,  the discharge planning was ‘inadequate’ and no crisis contingency plan was formulated.

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While Bridget Dolan QC, Assistant Coroner for West Sussex, could not say that Mustafa would not have killed himself when he did as a result of the deficiencies in his care, she ruled that several opportunities were missed to reduce the risk of him doing so.

Hannah Lamb, specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s London office representing Vera, said: “This is an incredibly tragic case and, many months after Mustafa’s death, Vera and the rest of the family remain understandably devastated by the loss of a much-loved husband, dad, brother and son.

“The family had a number of concerns about the events that unfolded in the lead up to Mustafa’s death and unfortunately the inquest has validated some of the concerns. We hope that these are now addressed as soon as possible to help improve patient care.”

Mustafa and Vera, 32, met in 2006. The couple had two children, aged four and two.

Mustafa and his brother, Murt, formed the M Khan x2 partnership and owned a number of racehorses.

During an inquest at West Sussex Coroner’s Court, the Coroner was told that Mustafa’s OCD got worse and he had started to develop sensitivity to cold and had cut certain foods out of his diet.

In 2014, when the couple were living in Horsham, Mustafa’s mental health deteriorated and he became more isolated.

Following medical assessment, Mustafa started taken medication for his illness in 2015. However, in around May 2017, he decided to suddenly stopped taking his medication as he was feeling much better, the court was told. 

Towards the end of October and early November 2017, he started expressing suicidal thoughts. He briefly resumed taking medication in January 2018 but stopped again as he believed that it was making his condition worse and his condition was physical, not mental.

Throughout early 2018 Mustafa’s condition deteriorated and he threatened to take his own life.

He was sectioned under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act on 6 February following another suicide threat. After six days at an NHS hospital he was transferred on 12 February to The Priory, still under The Mental Health Act.

During his stay at The Priory he refused to take medication and refused to engage in any therapy programme for his OCD and with staff regarding his illness. Mustafa wanted to be discharged home to be with his family and staff assessed whether they could agree to his request.

A report detailing an investigation into the care and treatment Mustafa received at the Priory, written by the Priory Group, identified a number of failings in his treatment. The hearing was told that a number of actions have been initiated in response to the tragic incident. They focus on improved communications and co-ordination between referring or treating agencies, more thorough risk assessments, enhanced discharge meetings and post discharge care and appropriate training for all staff to ensure lessons from incidents are captured. 

The hearing was told that Mustafa, who wanted to leave the hospital and who staff deemed to be at ‘low risk’ of suicide, was discharged on 21 February to stay at his parents’ house.  A ‘keeping safe’ care plan, including a phone number which a patient could call for to speak to a mental health specialist in case of emergencies, was not completed. The family were not provided with a contact if there was an emergency and there was no follow up plan in place by the Priory. 

After staying one night at his parents’ house he checked into a hotel. On 24 February, his family could not contact him so called the police. His body was found shortly afterwards.

After the hearing Vera said: “I was very confused why Mustafa was allowed to be discharged when it appeared he was not taking his medication and I did not think his condition was improving.

“I’m still in shock now about his death. All we wanted is for Mustafa to receive the help he needed so he could get better and come back home to his family.

“Our family can’t understand how Mustafa was discharged from The Priory and wasn’t considered at risk of harming himself despite being suicidal for several months and having not engaged in any treatment or therapy during his time at The Priory.

“I am completely devastated by the loss of Mustafa and the children miss their daddy.

“Our only hope now is that the heartbreak our family has suffered highlights the need for those with mental health issues to receive the treatment they need.     

“We hope that health trusts and hospitals continue to learn from the issues which have been highlighted at inquest to ensure other families are spared the pain we have to endure on a daily basis.”