Social care system ‘let my daughter down’

The mother of Sarah Lawson, the depressed 22-year-old whose
father smothered her, has told Community Care her daughter was
“absolutely let down” by the social care system as well as the
health service.

Karen Lawson said her daughter had seen a number of social
workers, but the only one who had helped had quickly moved on.

“[Sarah] had one in particular she got on well with and looked
forward to visiting and was benefiting, but she got promoted,” said
Lawson. “Sarah couldn’t relate to the replacement and she ended up
seeing no one.”

“I would assume there would have been a second choice if you
don’t relate to Miss X or Y, but it was like: ‘you don’t find this
helpful, so let’s leave it at that’,” she added.

Lawson was speaking as it emerged that Worthing Priority Care
NHS Trust carried out an internal investigation into the affair
last May, but had not informed the family it was taking place or of
its results. Lawson said she was disappointed “they didn’t have the
courtesy” to tell her about it.

A spokesperson for the trust said: “An internal inquiry was
conducted last year into the days preceeding the death of Sarah
Lawson and the decisions made regarding her discharge. We were
satisfied that staff acted in accordance with our policies.”

He added that measures on drug and alcohol used in Homefield
psychiatric hospital were in line with NHS policy both locally and

Sarah had a history of severe depression and failed suicide
attempts, but was sent home from Homefield after allegedly passing
cannabis to another patient at the home.

Earlier this month her father pleaded guilty to manslaughter
after he helped her to die by suffocation.

West Sussex health authority is launching an independent public
inquiry, to which the Lawson family will be invited to

A spokesperson for West Sussex Council told Community
that social services would be playing a part in the
review because the department had involvement with the family
before Sarah’s death.

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