Kent hospitals admit failings over Simon Willson death

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Media captionSimon Willson died after being moved out of A&E

Two NHS trusts have admitted failures in the care of a father of two who was found hanged in a hospital toilet.

Simon Willson, 34, was admitted to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital in January 2010 after taking a drug overdose.

He was transferred out of A&E after four hours, without being seen by a mental health professional, to meet hospital targets.

Both the hospital and mental health trusts have admitted they should have done more for Mr Willson.

Mr Willson had first been referred to Canterbury's mental health services, run by Kent and Medway Social Care Partnership Trust in March 2008.

He had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, which led to the breakdown of his marriage, loss of his job and several suicide attempts.

'Looking for help'

The trust has admitted a breach of duty after Mr Willson was left to make his own arrangements for help with his alcohol and drug abuse.

After a suicide attempt he was admitted to St Martin's Hospital in Canterbury in November 2009 where he remained until January 2010.

The NHS Litigation Authority ruled Mr Willson had been failed throughout his time under its care.

Mr Willson's widow, Melanie, mother of the couple's two young daughters, said: "He so desperately wanted to get better and was looking for help but simply did not get it."

On the morning of his death on 23 January 2010, Mr Willson went to Canterbury police station wanting to be sectioned.

He was taken to St Martin's Hospital and discharged.

After taking an overdose that afternoon he was taken to Kent and Canterbury Hospital run by the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.

After several hours he was transferred out of the hospital's A&E department.

He then locked himself into a disabled toilet and hanged himself with his belt.

'Meet targets'

The NHS Litigation Authority ruled that in Mr Willson's case there had been an "under evaluation of risk from the outset".

He had been discharged from hospital while still being "severely depressed and at high risk of suicide".

Image copyright East Kent Hospitals University Trust
Image caption Simon Willson died in the Kent and Canterbury Hospital in January 2010

When Mr Willson was moved from A&E on 23 January "to meet targets", the handover between units was "unacceptable", the litigation authority said.

Mr Willson was then able to kill himself in a disabled toilet while unsupervised by hospital staff.

A spokesman for the trust said the Kent and Canterbury Hospital has since made a number of changes, including training for emergency staff in the care of mental health patients and improved liaison with the mental health trust.

The Kent and Medway Social Care Partnership Trust said it was unable to comment.

Mrs Willson said: "He would still be with us today if he had been shown the care and compassion you would expect and had people done their jobs properly."

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