Suicidal teen let down by hospital care claim

Burnley General Hospital
Burnley General Hospital

Burnley General Hospital has come under fire after allegedly discharging a 16-year-old student who openly admitted to feeling suicidal and a danger to others.

The teenager, who has a history of mental health problems, went to the Urgent Care Centre after suffering a panic attack.

Having been self-harming, she is said to have told staff at the hospital that she was scared she was going to attack other people.

According to her mum and step-dad, a nurse contacted them and said she would keep the family updated on the situation.

But when the teenager’s step-dad tried to ring back later he was said to be told “she’s not here” and “that there is nothing on the system”.

The same response was given when he tried ringing Royal Blackburn Hospital. Just as he was about to phone the police, his step-daughter came through the door “in tears and shaking”, stating that she had been left in a room for two hours.

She reported she had been told that unless she was suffering from schizophrenia the hospital could not help her and that she needed to be referred to an adult mental health team by East Lancashire Child and Adolescent Services. She was discharged, without any call being made to her family, and left to catch a bus back home by herself.

Her family have lodged a complaint with the Care Quality Commission, in the hope it will stop other families from going through a similar ordeal.

They feel they should have been informed she was being discharged, despite her being 16-years-old, and have said they are disgusted that somebody so vulnerable was allowed to leave the hospital.

The girl’s mum said: “I was fuming. They should have contacted us to tell us she had been discharged, so that we could decide what to do. I had no car, but we would have sorted something. Luckily she came straight home, but if anything had happened we wouldn’t have known anything about it.”

Her step-dad added: “She was discharged, bearing in mind she felt suicidal, and she felt as if she was going to harm herself and other people. You don’t let somebody go when they are like that.

“The law states under normal circumstances that if a child is 16 they are treated as an adult - but that’s if they don’t have mental health problems. She openly admitted that she was a danger to other people. Why didn’t they refer her?”

The teenager has since been referred by her college to Improving Access to Psychological Therapies.

Responding, Chris Pearson, chief nurse at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “This is a complex case involving a vulnerable teenager and her family.

“We must respect our patient’s confidentiality and we cannot comment on the issues raised. We would urge her to contact us directly so we can help to make sure she is receiving the appropriate support.”

And Tanya Hibbert, network director at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust added: “We have looked into the issues that have been raised as a matter of urgency. Whilst we are unable to discuss details relating to an individual’s care due to confidentiality reasons we can confirm that a full assessment is undertaken for any person that presents at A&E or urgent care centres with mental health issues.

“Our main priority is ensuring that people are able to access the appropriate support.”