Mercy-killing case highlights flaws

A review into the care received by a young woman with a history of
depression and self-harming who was smothered by her father in a
“mercy killing” has highlighted flaws in the system.

Sarah Lawson, 22, died in April 2000, three years after she began
receiving help from Worthing Priority Care NHS Trust and other
mental health providers. The review, commissioned by West Sussex
Council and Surrey and Sussex Strategic Health Authority, says her
needs became “lost” and the Worthing community mental health team
was “dysfunctional” at the time it dealt with Lawson in 1997-8.

For over a year, the care programme approach was not initiated. It
also criticises GPs for failing to pass on vital background
information to the CMHT, adding that professionals failed to
“adequately assess and formulate the needs of family”.

Meanwhile, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence this week
published guidance on how to deal with self-harm after figures
revealed the problem is reaching epidemic proportions with more
than 170,000 seeking hospital treatment a year.

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