Accountant found hanged in Sheffield after being detained on mental health ward

Sheffield Coroner's Court
Sheffield Coroner's Court
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An accountant died after being found hanging on a mental health ward in Sheffield where he was being detained, an inquest heard.

Keith Dransfield, from Wincobank, attended Northern General Hospital with his wife on September 25 last year following a 'rapid decline' in his mental health.

The 70-year-old was depressed and agitated at the time, Sheffield Coroner's Court was told, and was convinced he was going to become destitute and be made homeless that night, despite no evidence to support this belief.

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Dr Nicholas Long, the specialist registrar in psychiatry who interviewed him that evening, said Mr Dransfield had also been having suicidal thoughts.

The decision was taken to detain him under section two of the Mental Health Act, and he was admitted in the early hours of the following morning to a psychiatric ward at the Longley Centre, which is run by Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Three days later, he was found hanging on the ward and although efforts to resuscitate him were successful he died from his injuries the following day, September 30.

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An inquest into his death, which opened today, heard how Mr Dransfield had initially been placed under close observation, meaning staff would check on him every 10 minutes, but this was later switched to routine observation every two hours.

Jurors were also told there were two men's 'anti-ligature' rooms at that time on the ward, designed to reduce the risk of suicide, but neither had been available on the night Mr Dransfield was admitted.

Adam Walker, representing Mr Dransfield's family, asked why the observation regime had been switched before a full assessment was completed, especially since evidence suggested the risk of suicide was higher among older men suffering from psychosis.

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Jade Atkinson, a staff nurse at the ward, was on duty the night Mr Dransfield was admitted and the night he was found hanging.

She told how staff had discussed switching him back to close observation on September 29, before he was found hanging, as he had appeared drowsy and had a small cut on his wrist which he was believed to have made deliberately.

She said a colleague had spoken to Mr Dransfield that day but the new regime was not implemented before he was found hanged.

Ms Atkinson described how changes had been introduced on the ward since his death.

She said all rooms now had 'anti-ligature' doors, staff had received suicide prevention training and new policies were being introduced to regulate handovers between staff and make it clearer which patients nurses were responsible for during their shifts.

The inquest, which is scheduled to last for six days, continues.