More senior nurses are being employed on mental health wards in Peterborough after an inquest found neglect contributed to the death of a grandmother who set herself on fire.
Heather Loveridge, (56), who had a history of burning herself, was found engulfed in flames in her bedroom’s en-suite toilet within a day of being voluntarily admitted to the Cavell Centre in Peterborough, which is run by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT).
An inquest at Cambridgeshire Coroner’s Court concluded her death in August last year was “misadventure contributed to by neglect”.
The inquest heard Mrs Loveridge had a cigarette lighter in her handbag, which was not removed by staff.
In a statement released after the inquest, Mrs Loveridge’s family said: “Heather had a heart of gold and would have given anything to help someone in need. Losing her has ripped a hole in the lives of her eight siblings, seven grandchildren and four beloved children.
“We could not think of a more horrific way to die and grapple with the circumstances in which we have lost her every day.”
Last month the widow of a former soldier called for lessons to be learnt after an inquest found that there were failures in the hours before his death.
Prem Rai, 39, was a Ghurkha soldier for 18 years before starting training as a butler. However, during his training Prem was admitted to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and referred to mental health services in July 2016.
Over the following weeks, Prem was kept under medical observation at the Cavell Centre. On the morning of August 19, 2016, Prem was found unresponsive in his bed with no obvious sign of the cause of his death. A report into the death, read at the inquest, revealed a number of issues, including lack of communication between staff.
During the inquest into Mrs Loveridge’s death, assistant coroner Belinda Cheney said other than the trust involved, there were no similarities linking the cases.
However, a spokesman for CPFT said lessons had been learnt. He said: “The care of patients and service-users is our highest priority and we always ensure lessons are learned, and any necessary changes to our procedures which will prevent further incidents are identified and implemented.
“It is important to state that deaths and serious incidents are very rare, but to ensure greater patient safety at our Cavell Centre in Peterborough we have increased the number of senior nurses on our four adult inpatient wards and we have also employed clinical nurse specialists and occupational therapists on all of the wards. To ensure patients’ belongings are checked we are now putting adhesive labels on every item of property that they bring with them. Once they are checked, the labels are removed and the property is returned to them. This is a simple measure but one which will further reduce the risk of an item which could cause harm to a patient or others being missed.
“Overall, the issues around complex mental health conditions can be challenging but patients and their families should be assured that we continue to everything we can to ensure our inpatient wards remain safe.”