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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Coroner wants review of mental health help after woman's death

A coroner is to write to the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group asking for a review of the facilities available in Cumbria for mental health patients.

Coroner David Roberts photo
David Roberts

David Roberts is asking for the review after the inquest of Amanda Jane Vickers, who suffered from mental health problems, where it was revealed that she was unable to go a crisis house at Lowther Street in Whitehaven, the only one of its type in Cumbria, because no beds were available.

Mrs Vickers, 47, of Mosser, near Cockermouth, was found hanged at her home on August 22 last year.

She was treated a number of times at Lowther Street, a six-bedroom care home run by The Croftlands Trust which provides a 24-hour service.

In the days leading up to her death it was hoped that Mrs Vickers would be able to go to Lowther Street but it was agreed she would stay at home as there were no beds available.

The incident has prompted Mr Roberts to ask for a review into the situation in Cumbria and whether there was any possibility of expanding the number of beds or facilities available.

Mrs Vickers’ family said it was hard to believe that Lowther Street was the only community crisis house in Cumbria and that the issue needed to be addressed.

They said that she felt much more comfortable staying in Lowther Street than in a hospital.

Her husband, James Richard Vickers, said: “For Lowther Street to be the only facility in Cumbria and only be able to take six people it seems to be a bit of a low number to me.

“They were very helpful at Lowther Street and Amanda found it really helpful and calm. There was always someone to talk to and it was such a beneficial place for her.

“It was always a struggle in a hospital environment and when she saw other older patients in there with similar problems she always asked, ‘Is that what future I have got to look forward to?’”

The inquest heard that Mrs Vickers had a history of mental health problems and was known to have suicidal thoughts and had tried to take her life before.

On the day of her death her husband said that he had gone out to a physiotherapist appointment during the day and then was called out to a meeting at the Kirkstile Inn at Loweswater later on in the evening.

Mr Vickers said: “I left her sitting with the dog watching television and she said she would maybe go to bed a bit later on.

“For the last four years every time I had gone out the house I asked the same question – I always asked her if she was going to be okay.

“She said she was and there was nothing out of the ordinary – there were no alarm bells ringing.”

Mr Vickers returned home at around 10.30pm that night and found his wife dead in a craft room she often used.

A post mortem examination revealed that Mrs Vickers had died as a result of hanging.

Mr Vickers added: “She was a fun-loving woman and cared about everybody else but herself.

“She was tremendous at hosting family parties in the cooking and preparation and she lived to make everybody round her happy.”

Mr Roberts recorded a verdict that Mrs Vickers had taken her own life while the balance of her mind was disturbed.

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