Absence of pre-admission statement crucial in Hutchinson case, finds inquiry

An inquiry into the care and treatment of a
man diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic has recommended that
pre-admission social assessments should always be included in a
patient’s medical notes.

Wayne Hutchinson was convicted in 1996 of two
charges of manslaughter on the ground of diminished responsibility,
one charge of attempted murder, and three counts of wounding with
intent following shooting and stabbing incidents in Brixton.

A doctor at the former South Western Hospital
in Lewisham, south east London, who had not previously met
Hutchinson, granted him leave in November 1994. Hutchinson failed
to return to hospital four days later and was later discharged from
the hospital in his absence. He also failed to attend a meeting in

An inquiry commissioned by Lambeth, Southwark
and Lewisham Health Authority found that if the pre-admission
statement had been available, it would have led to steps being
taken to return Hutchinson to hospital. Its absence made “a
significant difference to the potential response of social services
to his absence” claims the report.

It also states that whenever an approved
social worker sections someone under the Mental Health Act 1983,
social services should be informed even if no formal referral of
the patient has been made. Hutchinson had been detained under
section 2 of the Mental Health Act by an ASW in hospital. He had
not been referred to social services and no care plan had been
drawn up, both of which are necessary before a patient would be
considered by social services for support and help.

Better communication between different
organisations was also recommended by the inquiry.

Health authority chief executive Martin
Roberts said: “The report makes it clear that there were systematic
failures in the handling of Hutchinson’s care, as well as a
shortage of secure in-patient beds.

“It also highlights the complexity of caring
for people with mental health problems who are involved in illicit
drug use and criminal and violent activities.”

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