Coroner critical of community care

The rules surrounding the care of people with mental health
problems have been criticised by the Isle of Wight coroner
following the death of a man who suffered from schizophrenia found
hanged in Newport on New Year’s Eve.

Sean Thompson had been discovered hanging from a tree in the town.
At the inquest, coroner John Matthews said: “Until the system is
changed there will be many more of these deaths.”

Recording an open verdict, Matthews said it was difficult to ensure
that adult mental health patients took medication, and that the
system “falls to bits” once they were in the community.

“There is very little in the legal framework that can remedy the
situation unless someone is sectioned and can be made to take their
medication,” he added.

Community psychiatric nurse Paul Smart said Thompson had suffered
from schizophrenia for several years and been under the supervision
of the assertive outreach team but had never expressed any thoughts
of self-harm or suicide.

The Mental Health Alliance was due to discuss progress on the
government’s draft Mental Health Bill, which included proposals to
extend compulsory treatment into community settings and broaden the
conditions that allow compulsory treatment, at the House of Commons
this week.

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