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Failings at Wedgwood House mental health unit in Bury St Edmunds may have contributed to death of Matthew Arkle, inquest jury rules

By Newsdesk Bury

An inquest jury has said failings at a Bury St Edmunds mental health unit may have contributed to the death of a 37-year-old patient.

Following a four day inquest at Suffolk Coroner's Court in Ipswich, the jury yesterday (Thursday) recorded a conclusion of suicide following the death of Matthew Arkle.

The jury identified four areas of concern which, although not directly resulting in the death of Mr Arkle, may have contributed.

Matthew Arkle (5166159)
Matthew Arkle (5166159)

They were record keeping, communications, the high level of activity and stress on the ward and the time it took to notice, react to and report that Mr Arkle was missing.

Mr Arkle, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, had been granted one hour of leave from the Wedgwood House unit, which is run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

The inquest heard that leave was granted against the wishes of his family who said they would not be in the area at the time to support him.

It emerged that the family's message was not relayed to staff.

Following the conclusion of the inquest, Mr Arkle's mother Sheila said she felt her son had been 'let down by the people who were meant to be looking after him'.

Mr Arkle's sister Jenny said: "On that day we feel that there were a number of errors which led us unfortunately here. That won't bring him back but we hope no-one else will have to go through this."

A spokesman for NSFT said: "The trust has undertaken a detailed review to learn as much as possible from Matty’s passing and to implement positive improvements in its services, including the need to maintain full and accurate health records and to ensure that relevant information is handed over between shifts.

"In addition, nurse-led mental state assessments are undertaken when a service leaver requests leave and this information is recorded in a more structured way on a newly-introduced 'patient leave request form'; staff have been released to spend more time 'walking the floor' on our acute wards so that they are better placed to assess service users; and twice daily 'safety huddles' take place where concerns about individual service users can be raised."

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