Vulnerable Peterborough woman died by suicide at Maxey Pits two weeks after health centre release, inquest hears

Police searching woods  and waterline around Maxey Pits EMN-141217-132927009
Police searching woods and waterline around Maxey Pits EMN-141217-132927009
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A vulnerable woman suffering from depression died by suicide at Maxey Pits two weeks after she was released from a health centre, an inquest heard.

Wendy Simms (52) from South Parade, West Town, Peterborough, was found dead by police on December 17 last year after having been missing for six days.

Wendy Simms

Wendy Simms

Ms Simms had been taking medication for anxiety and was found drowned in one of the lakes at the former gravel extraction quarries at Maxey Pits, north of Peterborough, with a high amount of the sedating drug Zopiclone in her system.

At the time of her death she was living in a hostel she had been sent to after leaving the Oak 1 Ward at the Cavell Centre, in Bretton Gate.

Ms Simms, who had attempted suicide in the past, had voluntarily admitted herself to the ward - run by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust - on November 18 where she was described as being suicidal following difficulties in her personal life.

However, her symptoms were said to have improved markedly after three weeks of treatment allowing her to be released from the ward with a prescription for Zopiclone, although the inquest heard she did not want to be sent to a hostel.

It was also stated that a care co-ordinator had been identified for Ms Simms on her discharge, but that Ms Simms died before they had been able to make contact.

Speaking at the inquest last Friday (November 13) Dr Maheshi Wikramanayake, consultant psychiatrist at the Cavell Centre, who was in regular contact with Ms Simms, said: “She was suicidal when she first came, but that changed in a few days.

“It was still there in the back of her mind ‘what if I feel the same way when I go back out’? But she had been gearing herself to not think about it.

“She would have preferred to not go to the hostel but decided to make a good go of it.”

Dr Wikramanayake last saw Ms Simms on the day of her discharge on December 3. She said: “She was a different Wendy. She was very chatty and really looking forward to everything.

“She had made a drastic improvement in her mood.”

But Dr Wikramanayake added: “Because of her history there will always be a risk. She had a chronic low risk of suicide.”

The family of Ms Simms was present at the inquest, and one member told Dr Wikramanayake: “I can’t understand how she could have gone in suicidal then in three weeks be sent to a hostel. I can’t get my head around it.”

Coroner Simon Milburn asked if there was a reason why she should have not gone back into the community after three weeks, to which Dr Wikramanayake replied: “I do not think at that point I would have decided differently or there was something else I could have done in terms of her treatment in hospital.”

The consultant psychiatrist added that the average stay for voluntary patients in Oak 1 is three weeks.

Also questioned at the inquest was Babongile Nkomo, team manager for the Peterborough Adult Locality Team at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust.

She said she was “not happy” with the time taken to try and arrange contact for Ms Simms with a care co-ordinator and that the aim is to have that arranged before a patient is discharged, or at the very latest within three days once they are released.

It was stated at the inquest that police did not feel there had been any third party involvement in Ms Simms’ death, and once all the evidence had been heard Coroner Milburn concluded that she had taken her own life.

He finished by telling the family he hoped the hearing would bring them some closure.