Majorie Grayson: Sheffield hospital scolded for discharging vulnerable woman to house where she killed husband

A coroner has scolded a Sheffield hospital for discharging a vulnerable elderly woman to the house where she killed her husband.

Friday, 20th May 2022, 5:33 pm

Marjorie Grayson, aged 85, was found dead at her home in Orgreave Lane, Handsworth, on September 3, 2020. It was the same house where, two years earlier, she killed her husband, Alan, over a “trivial disagreement” brought on by a lapse in impulse control.

Mrs Grayson’s death came after a lengthy stay in two psychiatric hospitals, where she suffered from low moods, a vulnerable state of mind and evident guilt at what happened.

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Marjorie Grayson killed her husband at their Handsworth home in September 2018 following a lapse in impulse control. Two years later, after a psychiatric hospital released her back to the house where the tragedy happened, she took her own life.

But despite this, and with no firm diagnosis in place, Marjorie was discharged to community care in March 2020 – where the decision was made not to see her face-to-face, but instead to handle her over the phone for fear of giving her Covid-19.

It placed a huge responsibility on her already grief-stricken family to care for the 85-year-old, who were expected to look for warning signs.

Tragically, it ended with Mrs Grayson taking her own life at home.

Now, coroner Abigail Combes has scolded Grenoside Grange ward, managed by Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust, for seemingly ignoring all warnings from the Ministry of Justice, other hospitals, or even Mrs Grayson herself that she should not be sent home to the house where she killed her husband.

Police officers and scenes of crime officers at a property in Orgreave Lane Sheffield, where the body of an 86 year old man has been discovered. Picture Dean Atkins

A preventing future deaths report published this week (May 19) said the Ministry of Justice warned there were two “very clear” things that should not happen in Mrs Grayson’s care: That she be sent home alone to the scene of the killing, or that the responsibility is placed on her family, who were given “little or no support”.

“Unfortunately… [this] is exactly the approach that was taken,” wrote Ms Combes.

“… she had returned to her home address which was the scene of the index offence and that she felt guilty about what she had put her family through.

“I can find no evidence of a clear risk assessment balancing the risk of exposure to Covid-19 for Marjorie against the risk of not physically seeing her upon discharge.”

Further, in the three weeks after her release in March 2020, at what would have been a time of immense stress for Mrs Grayson, the support team only phoned her twice.

Dark thoughts and expressions of guilty and low moods were not acted on by the team.

During her stay at Grenoside, staff stopped psychological therapy Mrs Grayson had been receiving at her previous hospital – St Andrew’s, in Northampton – after deeming it would ‘make things worse’. Ms Combes threw this out, saying there was little in the way of risk assessment in this decision.

A firm diagnosis for Mrs Grayson was never made, other than ‘mild cognitive impairment’, which would not supported the loss of impulse of control that led to Mr Grayson’s death. Despite, the report alluded to two incidents of loss of impulse control “at the highest level” during Mrs Grayson’s time in hospital.

The coroner scolded the team supporting for seemingly “completely separating” the tragic killing of Mr Grayson and her diagnosis, and failing to manage risk as a result.

Ms Combes ordered Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust and the Ministry of Justice to respond to the report within 56 days.

At the end of a three-day inquest in February, Ms Combes praised Mrs Grayson’s family for their courage through so many tragic events.

“Condolences don’t seem enough. I’m really sorry for what you’ve gone through.

“I cannot imagine what you’ve been through. It’s indescribable. It’s not like anything I’ve ever come across in coroner’s court before. You really do have my highest admiration and sympathies.”

A spokesperson for Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust said, ‘We are deeply saddened by the death of Marjorie. We have carried out an investigation into her death and we will respond to the coroners concerns. We always strive to give the best care possible to our service users and we welcome every opportunity to learn and improve the quality of our care."