The mother of a 25-year-old college student who committed suicide in 2013 has spoken out after an independent report found that his death could have been prevented.
Chris Wood, from Cardiff , committed suicide in January 2013. Medical professionals said he displayed traits of borderline personality disorder and began receiving mental health services in 2008.
‘His death would have been prevented’
An independent report into his death was commissioned by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Mr Wood’s mother Debbie’s solicitor.
It said: “On the balance of probability, had Chris been provided with a reasonable standard of care, including being provided with a care coordinator and being provided with specific interventions for the personality problem with which he presented then on the balance of probability, his death would have been prevented.”
More than three years after his death, mum Debbie, who lives in Cyncoed , said he was “dismissed and belittled” by the people who were supposed to be looking after him.
She said: “My son’s care was absolutely horrendous. We were just left to deal with it – we were abandoned. I felt nothing was being done for my son.
“We’re just appalled that they didn’t take on board what we were saying. What happens to other mental health patients who don’t have that level of support?
“We were very much dismissed.
“We are not prepared to accept them saying ‘lessons have been learnt’.
“Everybody thinks this is never going to happen to them.”
Debbie said Chris was a “happy, sunny child”.
‘We used to call him our little sunshine’
“He was the one that was always thumbs up” she added.
“We used to call him our little sunshine.
“People do need to be made aware of this. It’s no good speaking up if you’re dismissed and not listened to. Then there’s no point.
“My lovely son could still be here if they just looked after him properly.”
On family occasions, Debbie said: “Whenever we meet, we know there’s one very important person missing.
“Your life is never ever the same again.”
Breach of duty ‘wide ranging and overlapping’
The report, written by Prof Kevin Gournay CBE, describes Chris, who died on 26 January, 2013, as a “man with complex problems” whose “risk of suicide was much greater than one would see in the general population”.
It details that in the year before his death, there were at least 15 episodes of “significant self-harming behaviour, or behaviour that would cause any reasonable person to have considerable concern”.
“There was considerable difficulty arriving at a definitive diagnosis. At times, the mental health professionals involved deemed CW (Chris Wood) not to require formal treatment for his problems.”
Breaches of duty are described as “numerous, wide ranging and overlapping” and his care is described as “inconsistently applied”.
The report, compiled in October 2015, details how Chris was considered to require care under the umbrella of the Care Programme Approach (CPA), where he was managed on an enhanced level.
The CPA was set up more than 20 years ago to deal with those with long-term mental health problems.
‘Findings have been recognised’, health board says
The report also notes that there is no evidence that the risk of self harm/suicide was competently and correctly assessed in 2012, and it was only after Chris’ death that there was any attempt to draw together a comprehensive risk history and assessment.
The General Medical Council confirmed to Mrs Wood that they would investigate concerns she raised about a Dr Sudad Jawad after she raised concerns about the care her son received.
A spokeswoman for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said: “The health board would like to again extend its apologies to Mr Wood’s family and assure them that the findings have been recognised and accepted in this case.
“The health board has taken steps to address the issues raised in the independent report and has met with the family regularly and settled the case in line with the legal process.
“We are unable to go into the exact details of this difficult and lengthy legal case but would like to reassure the family and the public that changes have been made in response to the issues raised to mitigate this happening again.
“The health board has further developed the personality disorder service, Cynnwys, to provide better support for people with severe emotional, behavioural and relationship difficulties and the recommendations of the Coroner have been implemented in full.”