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Beth Matthews family say her death was wholly avoidable

Beth Matthews family say her death was wholly avoidable

Beth's devastated relatives opened up on their 'grief, unimaginable loss and anguish' as they called for mental health providers to 'listen and act' following the tragedy at The Priory in Cheadle in March last year

Manchester Evening News

The family of a mental health blogger credited with saving the life of at least one of her 'massive' online following say her own death was 'wholly avoidable' and 'completely unnecessary' after an inquest ruled she was neglected.

Devastated relatives of Beth Matthews say she 'gave a bright light of hope to people who were struggling to see any light at all' by documenting her experience and helping others on social media following a previous suicide attempt in 2019.

However, they say she was 'tragically let down' and are now calling for mental health providers to 'listen and act' on the findings of the jury, who identified a number of 'failings' in her care.

Beth, 26, died in March last year after ingesting a toxic substance which she ordered online from Russia and which arrived in the post at The Priory's Cheadle Royal Hospital where she was being treated whilst detained under the Mental Health Act.

Today (Thursday) a jury at South Manchester Coroner's Court in Stockport recorded a conclusion that her death was 'suicide contributed to by neglect.'

The hearing was told how there was a ‘clear direction’ in Beth’s care plan said she should not be allowed open her own mail, due to her self-harm and suicide risk. However The Priory have admitted there were 'inconsistencies' in how this was implemented, with some allowing Beth to open her own post.

The jury found that 'serious inconsistencies existed across all levels of management in relation to her care plan' at the Priory's Fern Unit where she was being treated which resulted in the 'inadequate care of a highly vulnerable patient.'

Following the conclusion, Beth's family issued a statement, which was read outside the court by the family's legal representative Stephen Jones, from Leigh Day Solicitors, flanked by Beth's visibly emotional father Christopher Matthews.

"We would like to thank the coroner, jury and our legal representatives Leigh Day for their diligence in ensuring there was a thorough investigation into Beth’s death" the statement read.

“The passing of Beth that day was wholly avoidable and her death was completely unnecessary. We have been tragically let down by the Priory, who we believed were providing a safe place for Beth and the care that she needed.

“Mental health care providers must listen to and act on the findings of this inquest. It is incumbent on them to keep their patients safe. We do not wish to see or hear of other families having to endure the grief, unimaginable loss and anguish that we have been through.

“Not only was Beth bright and vivacious, she was intelligent, had a ‘can do’ attitude and her infectious smile would brighten anyone. She was an accomplished yacht and dinghy sailor who was always full of energy and had a wonderful sense of humour.

“Beth tried to help others through describing her own mental health experiences in a highly graphic but articulate way and by doing so was able to touch and help countless others. We know for a fact that she saved at least one person through her social media presence. That is a huge legacy for a young lady to leave behind.

“Beth gave a bright light of hope to people who were struggling to see any light at all. May she now rest in peace.”

In his own statement, Mr Jones, clinical negligence partner at the firm said: “This was a particularly upsetting inquest. Beth’s death came about because a very simple and straightforward instruction in her care plan, that staff should open parcels for her, was not followed.

"Had the care plan been followed, Beth would not have died. We hope that the jury’s finding that Beth’s death was contributed to by neglect will help shine a light on what happened and emphasise the need for improvements to be made.”

Assistant Coroner Andrew Bridgman said he was satisfied a Prevention of Future deaths report wasn't necessary as 'measures to address inconsistencies in information disclosure, communication of that information and escalation' identified by the jury had been 'acted upon satisfactorily.'

Following the hearing, The Priory said in a statement: “We want to extend our deepest condolences to Beth’s family and friends for their loss. Beth’s attempts to overcome her mental health challenges had been an inspiration for many. Although unexpected deaths are extremely rare, we recognise that every loss of life in our care is a tragedy.

"We fully accept the jury’s findings and acknowledge that far greater attention should have been given to Beth’s care plan.

"At the time of Beth’s unexpected death, we took immediate steps to address the issues around how we document risk and communicate patients’ care plans, alongside our processes for receiving and opening post.

"Patient safety is our utmost priority and we will now review the Coroner’s comments in detail and make all necessary, additional changes to our policies and procedures.”

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