“Unacceptable” failures by a mental health hospital to manage the physical healthcare of a woman detained under the mental health act contributed to her starving to death, The Independent has learned.
A second inquest into the death of a 45-year-old woman, Jennifer Lewis, has found that the mental health hospital to which she was admitted “failed to manage her declining physical health” as she suffered from the effects of malnutrition.
Ms Lewis had a long-term diagnosis of schizophrenia. Her family described how she had lived a full life, completed a degree, and given lectures about living with mental illness. However, after undergoing bariatric surgery, against the wishes of her family, her mental state declined and she was admitted to the Bracton Centre, run by Oxleas, in 2014.
In an interview with The independent, her sister, Angela, described how, in the year before her death, Ms Lewis lost her hair, suffered from diarrhoea, and developed sores on her legs as she effectively “starved to death” from malnutrition.
Ms Lewis’s sister told The Independent that in the year leading up to her death, when the family warned doctors she was “starving to death”, their concerns were dismissed and they were told that the hospital “will not let it come to that”.
Mental health charity Rethink has called for improvements to physical healthcare for patients with severe mental illness, whose physical needs they say are “all too often ignored”, while experts at think tank the Centre for Mental Health have warned that patients with mental illness are dying too young as the system “still separates mental and physical health”.
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Source: The Independent, January 2022