Neglect contributed to the death of a 15 year old boy who died at a psychiatric hospital in 2014, a coroner has said.

Christopher Brennan was admitted to London’s Bethlem Royal Hospital for mental health problems which led him to self-harm.

After six weeks at the hospital he swallowed an object that left him unable to breathe. He was found unconscious and died of a cardiac arrest two days later.

At an inquest into his death, the coroner said staff failed to carry out a formal risk assessment and allowed him access to objects that he could use to hurt himself – despite his parents having asked that such items be locked away.

The coroner also said that the hospital staff had become ‘desensitised’ to the dangers of self-harm due to the frequency with which such incidents occurred.

“Continuing failures”

The coroner said there were “cumulative and continuing failures in risk assessment and management” and that Christopher’s “death was contributed to by neglect.”

The news comes as NHS bosses announce plans to cut funding for mental health services for 2016-17.

Data obtained from Freedom of Information requests shows that 57% of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) will reduce the budget for mental health spending – breaching official government guidance.

It has been suggested that CCGs are taking money ear-marked for mental health and spending it on failing hospital Trusts.

Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation, said “CCGs can chip away at the budget allocated for vital care services without anyone noticing.”

Contact a legal expert

To talk to a legal expert about negligent medical care, please get in touch with us at Glynns Solicitors.

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