Scottish carer took own life day after hospital sent him home as 'low risk'

Margaret Doherty, 60, the mother of Sean Doherty, with daughter Joanne. Picture: SWNSMargaret Doherty, 60, the mother of Sean Doherty, with daughter Joanne. Picture: SWNS
Margaret Doherty, 60, the mother of Sean Doherty, with daughter Joanne. Picture: SWNS
A Glasgow man took his own life after repeated problems with Universal Credit and was sent home from hospital twice after being deemed 'low risk', his grieving family claim.

Sean Doherty, 37, suffered a deep depression after the death of his father last July, who he had been a carer for.His family claim staff from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) accused Sean of continuing to receive a carers' allowance after the death of his dad, also named Sean, who died from cancer aged 69.

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They believe Sean, from Pollok, Glasgow, was failed by medics who did not realise how severe his problems were.In the week before his death, Sean had visited A&E at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow twice, begging for help for his mental health.His mum, Margaret, went with him on June 1 and they waited there for four hours before Sean was sent home with Valium.On June 5 Sean went to A&E again asking for help, but doctors deemed him to be 'low risk' and sent him home.Tragically, on June 6, he took his own life in the River Clyde, and his body was found three days later.NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have now launched an investigation and described the Doherty family's concerns as 'serious'.Sean's sister, Julie, 40, said he was repeatedly underpaid Universal Credit due to confusion as to whether he was receiving the carer's allowance.Mum-of-five Julie said: "There is just no help for people."Sean had been to the hospital on the Wednesday, and it must have taken an awful lot for him to go there."He wasn't being paid the correct amount of benefits, because they said he was receiving carer's allowance."He would phone Universal Credit and they would say he had the carer's allowance, so he kept having to tell them 'My dad's dead'."Sean was with my dad when he passed away but he fell asleep, and he was depressed about that."They just don't care about people."The DWP has insisted that its contact with Sean was to check he was 'getting the full support he was entitled to'.But Julie said Sean was sometimes paid just £30 into his bank account and believes the combined turmoil of grieving and dealing with benefit's staff made her brother suicidal.Sean's mum, Margaret, said the DWP was 'always phoning him and threatening to cut his money', but is demanding answers about why her son was sent home twice from hospital.She said: "I know for a fact it must have taken an awful lot for him to go there because he took a lot of persuading to go with me."According to the police he said to them, 'I've got mental health problems, can you help me?'."I don't know what they said to him but they sent him home."After we reported him missing, the police went down to the hospital and told me that as far as the doctors were concerned he had been very low risk."I feel as if the hospital didn't give a damn about my son."I feel so angry because I know my son wasn't low risk."The mum-of-seven, who has nine grandchildren, said medics told her Sean 'did not seem to have a problem'.Margaret said: "Sean had been suffering from depression for some time. He had a drink problem but managed to stop two years ago."My husband died last year of cancer and Sean had been with him."He fell asleep when he died and it affected him badly, he felt really guilty and he went into depression after that."He had had a lot of problems with Universal Credit, there were always phoning him and threatening to cut his money and saying he wasn't declaring his carers allowance for his dad."They were still asking him about the carers allowance after he died and it had stopped."He had phoned to let them know.''My daughter phoned me saying Sean looked very agitated and he said to her that he felt like killing himself."I took him down to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and we sat there for four hours before we were seen."We saw this first doctor and he spoke to Sean and said to me, 'He doesn't seem to have a problem' and I said to him, 'He doesn't have a problem?'."'He's threatening to kill himself. I'm here begging you to take my son."'I can't help him. My son is crying out for help'."He was really agitated but another doctor gave him some Valium."Sean was laid to rest at St Conval's Church in Pollok, Glasgow, on June 19.A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: "Our thoughts and sympathies are with the family at this very difficult time."We are in touch with this patient's family and are looking at their concerns."We are treating this issue seriously and will let the family know of the outcome of our investigations."A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said: "Our thoughts are with Mr Doherty's family and friends at this difficult time."We value the role carers play and were in contact with Mr Doherty to ensure he was getting the full support he was entitled to, as we rely on information provided by claimants to get this right."