Robyn Skilton: Neglect contributed to Sussex teen's death, coroner rules

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Robyn SkiltonImage source, Family handout
Image caption,
Robyn Skilton, 14, was found dead at a country park in Horsham in May 2021

A coroner plans to write to the government about mental health services for young people after ruling a girl's death was contributed to by neglect.

Robyn Skilton, 14, was found dead at a country park near her home in Horsham, West Sussex, in May 2021.

Her death came a month after her discharge from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

West Sussex coroner Penelope Schofield said mental health services "failed" Robyn. The NHS trust apologised.

Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
A coroner concluded Robyn Skilton took her own life while struggling with mental health issues

Recording a narrative verdict, Ms Schofield said: "The mental health services failed Robyn as they did not recognise the deterioration of her mental health nor provide her with the care she required.

"Her death was contributed to by neglect."

She continued: "There's a clear risk other lives will be lost if we don't address this.

"Schools are also finding this challenging. As a society we are failing these young people. There is a lack of resources to give them the help that they need."

Ms Schofield said she planned to send a prevention of future deaths report to Health Secretary Sajid Javid because the failings in mental health services for young people, highlighted in Robyn's case, were "a national problem" but pledged to defer the letter to give Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust time to show it had learned lessons.

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The inquest, sitting at Edes House, Chichester, heard the West Sussex CAMHS caseload had increased by 85% from 2,239 cases in May 2019 to 4,147 in May 2022.

A Serious Incident Review carried out by the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust following Robyn's death found six failings in their practices at the time.

They included a lack of face to face assessments and no escalation of services when an increased risk of Robyn's safety was reported.

A major overhaul of the services has happened in recent months.

Dr Alison Wallace, clinical director for children and young people's services at the trust, told Robyn's family: "You didn't get the service that you deserved. I'm sorry."

Robyn's parents, Alan and Victoria Skilton, described their daughter as an outgoing, confident, sociable girl who was fun to be with and made friends easily.

The coroner requested a written update on the trust's action plan by 31 October.

A spokesperson for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said: "We apologise unreservedly that the care and support from us did not recognise Robyn's vulnerability and provide the intervention and help she needed."

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