Care of mental health patient who committed murder found wanting

An inquiry into the care of an in-patient in a secure unit who escaped and murdered a member of the public has found systemic failings in his care.
The report, into how John Barrett managed to leave the grounds of Springfield Hospital in south London and stab Denis Finnegan to death in 2004, found professionals were putting patients’ needs over public protection.

The report, published by NHS London, found widespread failure by hospital staff to implement Barrett’s care package.

But it singled out the hospital’s forensic service, which had a responsibility for Barrett’s risk assessment, for particular criticism. 

The report recommended that an external service improvement team be appointed to oversee its recommendations. But it questioned whether the medium secure unit where Barrett was held, the Shaftesbury unit, should remain open while that takes place.

Peter Haughton, chief executive of South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust which has responsibility for the hospital, said that a team has already been appointed but did not address whether the trust would be closing the unit.

Essential mental health information

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