Mother still demanding answers from hospital firm

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Karen Barnes and son  Christopher Barnes, after the inquest into the death of Peter Barnes Karen Barnes and son Christopher Barnes, after the inquest into the death of Peter Barnes

The mother of a patient who died while in the care of a psychiatric hospital is questioning why the company running it has not taken more responsibility following the tragedy.

Karen Barnes was speaking after she learned Cygnet Health Care had been served an enforcement notice to improve its record-keeping at a hospital in Bierley.
Peter Barnes had been at the Cygnet Wyke Hospital for three weeks when he went missing on an unsupervised cigarette break on October 13, 2011. It was a week before he was found hanged in its grounds and a post-mortem examination showed he had died hours after he went missing.
In November 2013, inquest jurors decided Mr Barnes had taken his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed and referred to gross failures and neglect by staff.
They said the hospital's systems and methods of communication ensuring his clinician had all the information needed to decide whether to allow unescorted ground leave had been "inadequate" and led to an error which gave him the opportunity to take his own life.
Paperwork was not kept together and one vital sheet recording the time Mr Barnes left the building had gone missing. Since the inquest Mrs Barnes’ solicitor has written to Cygnet and is waiting for a reply.
She said the result of the inquest was “amazing,” but she was less impressed with what has happened since.
“At the moment I’m not at all happy with the outcome,” she said, adding that she had previously turned down an out-of-court settlement offer from the company.
“They didn’t stand a chance. It’s never been about the money – I’m not interested in that side of it. I want justice done to improve the care system,” she said.
The 54-year-old, of Lincoln, works as a nurse and said she cannot believe the company’s approach.
“If I’d ever been found guilty of gross negligence, I’d have lost my job. But nobody seems to be held accountable,” she said.
Mrs Barnes said she was prepared to go to court to get more accountability from Cygnet.
A Cygnet spokesman said the company offered its condolences to those who knew Mr Barnes and was “sorry for their loss”.
She said improvements were made immediately after the incident and it has continued to make numerous changes since.
“As a result of the efforts made, Austen Ward at Wyke was awarded Accreditation of Inpatient Mental Health Services(AIMS) by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. In order to get this national accreditation, the ward had to demonstrate the delivery of high quality, consistent care for some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable members of society, in keeping with national guidelines, standards and legislation,” she said.
Cygnet said the incident was investigated “carefully with independent external input”.
“In fact, a fundamental review of all policies relevant to this incident took place,” the spokesman said.
Improvements made include a new grounds search policy, individualised signing out sheets for patients taking leave and a new checklist for nurses.

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