NHS failed patient, 22, who took own life

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) criticised NHS Tayside over a number of failings in the case. Picture: PA
The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) criticised NHS Tayside over a number of failings in the case. Picture: PA
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A YOUNG man who hanged himself after being discharged from a Scottish hospital did not receive proper treatment or care, a watchdog has said.

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) criticised NHS Tayside over a number of failings in the case of 22-year-old Scott Nichol, who was found dead in 2011.

He concluded that the care and treatment provided was not “of a reasonable standard”. The report criticised a lack of continuity in the young man’s care and failure to follow up when he missed doctor appointments, among a number of failings.

Yesterday Mr Nichol’s father, Malcolm, from Forfar, said he did not believe his son was given any help by the NHS.

The SPSO said that Mr Nichol – referred to in the report as Mr A – had a history of mental health problems including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as well as drug and alcohol abuse. After he took a paracetamol overdose in September 2009, he was admitted to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee and then to the Carseview Centre mental health unit before being discharged.

In January 2010, he was admitted to the Murray Royal Hospital in Perth suffering increased aggression with paranoid and suicidal thoughts. He was again moved to Carseview before discharging himself seven days later.

He went on to take an overdose of two prescription drugs in February, but while in hospital declined the offer to be admitted to the Carseview Centre. He then took his own life in July 2010.

Mr Nichol’s father complained to ombudsman Jim Martin that the care given to his son was not acceptable and the family was not involved enough in a review into his death carried out by the board. The ombudsman upheld these complaints. The report said discharge letters were not sent quickly enough to Mr Nichol’s GP after he was discharged from hospital.

The ombudsman medical adviser concluded that “ineffective care co-ordination and a lack of cohesion and sense of urgency resulted in the board failing to deliver all aspects of care and treatment effectively”. The report added: “This resulted in Mr A becoming disengaged from services for a full five months before his death.”

The ombudsman said despite being vulnerable and at high risk of self harm, Mr Nichol’s case was not followed up quickly when he missed appointments.

The ombudsman concluded: “I do not consider that the care and treatment provided to Mr A from June 2009 until his death was of a reasonable standard.”

Mr Nichol’s father said yesterday: “The general feeling I have got is that they didn’t treat him, didn’t give him any help.”

A spokeswoman for NHS Tayside said: “The board has accepted the recommendations in the report and will act on them accordingly.”