Gran’s family need answers

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The grieving family of a grandmother found hanged 16 days after being discharged from hospital say her threats of suicide were ‘not taken seriously enough’ .

An inquest into the death of Jane Hallam, aged 61, heard a decision to allow her to return home to Woodhouse Mill from hospital ‘probably did contribute in part to the tragic outcome’.

The inquest heard the mum-of-two had told her family, a friend and a GP on three occasions that she planned to commit suicide after becoming depressed and anxious.

She admitted herself to the psychiatric ward at Northern General Hospital but was discharged into the care of the Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Team, run by Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, after three weeks.

Mrs Hallam made another attempt to take her life a day later and was readmitted, then discharged three days later although her family asked doctors to keep her in.

She was found hanged at home 16 days later, on May 17, 2011.

A narrative verdict was recorded at the inquest by Geoff Saul, assistant deputy coroner for South Yorkshire east district.

The verdict said Jane’s condition had not been recognised as warranting compulsory detention under the Mental Health Act despite fears for her safety in the community being expressed by family members.

It added: “Instead the team believed her condition could be managed appropriately, with some protective measures, in the community.

“However, if, instead of returning home, she had been retained as an inpatient, this would have provided an opportunity to observe and monitor her more closely in a safer environment and in this context the decision to allow her to return home, albeit with some protective measures, probably did contribute in part to the tragic outcome.”

Mrs Hallam’s sister-in-law Pauline Hallam, of Richmond, said: “The whole family have been overwhelmed by Jane’s death and it has been extremely difficult to come to terms with, particularly as we have been very concerned about the standard of care she received.

“We trusted the professionals to look after her but we strongly believe neither Jane nor us were properly listened to and her threats to take her own life were not taken seriously enough.

“We are grateful to the coroner for taking our concerns seriously but we are determined to find out if more could have been done to save her.

“We also want to ensure that other families don’t have to go through similar ordeals in future and any important lessons that can be learnt from Jane’s case are implemented by the trust.”

Law firm Irwin Mitchell is representing the family as a civil claim is pursued against the trust.

Kevan Taylor, trust chief executive, said: “It is always very sad for us when a service user dies and our thoughts go out to Jane’s family and friends at this difficult time.”