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Mental health: Mum's torment on learning of beds near home for daughter who died on psychiatric unit 260 miles away

Jurors found there were 'missed opportunities' to find Lauren Bridges a bed closer to home after an inquest ruled she didn't intend to take her own life. Pictures from SWNS
Jurors found there were 'missed opportunities' to find Lauren Bridges a bed closer to home after an inquest ruled she didn't intend to take her own life. Pictures from SWNS

A mum has told of her devastation that beds were available closer to home for her daughter who died on a psychiatric unit 260 miles from her family.

Jurors found there were 'missed opportunities' to find Lauren Bridges a bed closer to home after an inquest ruled she didn't intend to take her own life.

Lauren, 20, was found unconscious in her en suite bathroom at the Priory's Cheadle Royal Hospital at around 10pm on February 24 last year.

Following a four-week inquest, a jury at South Manchester Coroners' Court concluded there were 'missed opportunities' to find Lauren a bed closer to home.

Jurors said Lauren's desire to be closer to home was a 'consistent theme' during her treatment.

And while there were beds available in Bournemouth for 'more than half of the days' of Lauren's admission, she was 'not actively considered' for them.

Speaking after the inquest, her heartbroken mum Lindsey said Lauren was 'let down when she needed help the most'.

She said: “Lauren initially went into hospital voluntarily aged 17. It is a reflection of our mental health system that she never came home for good. Lauren was moved from one out of area hospital to hospital to another, getting worse and worse over time. Our concerns and Lauren’s requests to come home were ignored.

“Lauren gave so much joy and happiness to everyone who knew her. We’d do anything to still have Lauren with us. We thank the jury for returning a verdict of misadventure and for recognising the failings in Lauren’s care.

"Lauren didn’t want to die - she was desperate to escape a hospital that was making her mental health worse. She wanted to return home to her family and get better.

“Our lawyers had to fight hard to get these answers through the legal process. We hope that lessons will be learned from how Lauren was horribly failed.

"It is vital that changes are made to how people with mental illnesses and autistic people, particularly younger women, are cared for."

The straight A-student had been admitted eight times to mental health units before going to the privately run hospital, in Stockport, Greater Manchester, in July 2021.

But seven months later, Lindsey got a heartbreaking phone call in the middle of the night to tell her that her daughter had been found unresponsive.

Lauren's family rushed six hours to be by her bedside, but by the next day, on February 25, 2022, a clinical decision was made to withdraw her life support.

Her death came just a month before mental health blogger Beth Matthews, 26 passed away after swallowing a poisonous substance at the same hospital.

And fellow patient Deseree Fitzpatrick, 30, died there in January 2021, when she choked on her own vomit after being given medication that sedated her gag reflex.

In May this year, the Care Quality Commission watchdog rated the care offered at Priory Hospital Cheadle Royal “inadequate” in a damning report.

The jury found there were beds local to Lauren's hometown of Bournemouth available in July 2021 which would have been more suitable, but were not offered to her.

The jury also concluded Lauren was not actively considered for local beds between October 2021 and February 2022.

By the time of her death, Lauren had been at Cheadle Royal for over seven months and she had been an out-of-area patient for over 500 days.

Lindsey added: “Despite her challenges she worked so hard to be heard, to be understood and get home. However, we are left feeling that when Lauren needed help the most, she was let down. The system we currently have isn’t equipped to deal with our most vulnerable.

"Sending mental health patients hundreds of miles away from home to receive treatment does not work.

"We are devastated to learn that there were available local beds before Lauren was moved so far away and that there were opportunities missed to bring her home.

"We believe that Lauren would still be with us if she had been brought closer to home."

Alexander Terry, an expert public law and human rights lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: "Separating Lauren from her family had a devastating impact on her mental health.

"The jury has heard evidence that Lauren suffered harm as a result of her prolonged admission, after she had been considered ready to move on for several months."

Click here for a list phone lines and contact details that can help anyone experiencing mental health issues.