Essex County Council criticised over care of mental health patient

FAILURE by Essex County Council to appropriately assess a 17-year-old mental health patient contributed to her suicide, a critical coroner’s report has said.

Sonia Hayes, area coroner for Essex, said social care failed to carry out appropriate assessments during Molly-Ann Sergeant’s prolonged hospital admission for mental health issues and there was not a coherent co-ordinated approach to meeting her social aftercare needs.

She added Molly’s right to aftercare services was recorded but the functions were not discharged as they should have been during her admission, and this contributed to her death.

Molly had been treated for depression and had a history of chronic self-harm which had required a prolonged hospital admission at St Aubyn’s in Colchester under the Mental Health Act.

But she had not accepted her diagnosis with autistic spectrum disorder.

Molly was discharged on August 17 2020 with a plan in place for her mental health.

But confusion between different statutory provisions led to her case being closed to social care.

Molly was allocated a social worker five weeks after her discharge for an on-going assessment.

She attended her care programme approach meeting on October 9 2020 but left distressed.

Her body was found in woodland just off of Upland Road, known to locals as Reymead Wood and West Mersea Park, seven days later.

Essex County Council and EPUT has been criticised for not carrying out duties adequately and there was insufficient consideration during discharge planning on how Molly’s delayed diagnosis of autism would impact her chronic high risk of suicide given that Molly did not accept her diagnosis.

There was also a “lack of escalation” to Essex County Council when there was a failure to respond to requests for assessment.

A spokesperson for Essex County Council said: “We are aware of the Prevention of Future Deaths Report relating to this case and will be responding, as directed by the coroner.”

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