Northgate Hospital safer after Caister mum’s campaign

A MOTHER who battled for improved care and safety at a Great Yarmouth hospital after her daughter’s suicide is assured that action taken has cut the risk of another needless tragedy.

Claire Noon’s daughter, Louise, died at the Northgate Hospital on July 23, 2010, and she launched her campaign for a full review of her care after an inquest heard her death was preventable.

Mrs Noon met the chief executive of the Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health trust, Aidan Thomas, complaints manager, Michael Lozano and associate director of operations, Debbie White, to voice her concerns and find out how her daughter died despite being in a secure unit.

Nearly two years on, the trust has offered Mrs Noon a five-figure compensation payment.

“I have had so much response from people concerned about their relatives being in the hospital,” she said. “But changes have been put in place.

“The compensation issue was of no importance to us. Our main concern was that our legal costs would be covered.”

Louise, 24, who suffered from bipolar disorder, was seen at 12.15pm and was not checked on again until 1pm when her body was found in her room.

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A four-day inquest which took place in May 2011, saw the jury return a verdict of suicide while suffering from a mental disorder.

Mrs Noon, who works as a coordinator at the James Paget Hospital, said improvements had been made at the hospital in the two years since her daughter died.

She said: “Ligature points have been removed from the doors - that was a big issue for us.

“They have improved their communication skills and the staff give hand-over notes. They didn’t used to do that at the end of the day.

“There is a lot more interaction and some of the patients can go out and about.

“We have been assured that the points which we highlighted have been addressed.”

Observation of Louise was reduced from six times an hour to two times an hour and no written records were kept of why the times were changed, which was against the trust’s policy.

“With the help of our legal team, we have answers to most of our questions, and the serious failings have been highlighted,” she said.

“The loss of Louise in such horrendous circumstances has had a devastating effect on all her family and friends, and it is essential that the trust has learned from this, and another family will not have to go through the agony that we are still experiencing.”

“The main issue was that she had not been checked on. She had been left in her room for around 50 minutes.”

Mrs Noon has recently been appointed as a trustee of Papyrus, a charity which helps to prevent suicide in young people.

Roz Brooks, director of governance and nursing at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust said: “Patient safety is the trust’s top priority and learning is a massive part of this.

“We have worked hard over the last few years to make improvements at Northgate Hospital, and are really pleased with what has been accomplished.

“Learning such as working to eliminate ligature points, improving communication and giving patients a better experience during their stay have also been taken on across all of the trust’s clinical areas. “We are proud to have been able to work closely with Claire to make these improvements a success and thank her for continued support.”