A mental health worker has defended his decision to discharge a patient who then went on to take his own life.

Matt McElhone had described in detail the method he would use and where he would do it, prompting an urgent same-day referral to the crisis team in Carlisle.

However he was later discharged, with a plan to see his GP for medication, as a mental health worker did not deem him a suicide risk.

He was found hanged at home just over a week later, using the method he’d described to health staff.

Matt had visited his doctor on October 9 last year and spoken of suicidal thoughts.

Later that day he met Warren Simpson, a crisis practitioner with the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, at the Carleton Clinic.

He was assessed, given advice and discharged with a medication plan, plus contact numbers for the 24/7 crisis team.

But he was not put on the 72-our pathway, which assesses patients who are potentially a suicide risk over three days.

Mr Simpson said he had spoken with Matt about his proposed suicide plan, and he believed he had no intention to carry it out.

“I discussed with him the severity of someone having identified a method and explored his thoughts around intent,” said Mr Simpson.

“He was very clear that he didn’t intend to do it.”

He added that Matt said he was keen to go back to university and tackle the issues behind his anxiety and low mood. He did not want follow ups.

Following his death, the trust carried out a serious incident review. Although it determined Mr Simpson had acted appropriately, new measures have since been put in place.

It means any decisions taken by lone practitioners will be double checked by another team within 24 hours. All staff within the crisis teams countywide are also getting extra suicide risk assessment training.

Meanwhile, the trust that runs mental health services across Cumbria says it has strengthened its crisis service following the death of Matt McElhone.

Cumbria’s Assistant Coroner Nicholas Shaw did not criticise the trust for discharging him just over a week before he died.

However he did say it was a lot of responsibility to leave that decision with a lone practitioner, and supported changes that have been made since his death.

These include extra checks on discharge decisions and increased staff training.

Matt’s parents said they felt he had been let down by the system, but they were happy that the trust has learnt lessons and made changes.

A spokeswoman for Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation trust, which runs mental health services in the county, said: “Our sincere condolences are with the family of Matthew McElhone at this difficult time.

“All staff in the trust are committed to providing care that is compassionate and of the highest possible quality.

“We have taken Matthew’s death very seriously and immediately undertook an investigation, the findings of which have been shared with the family and with the coroner.

“We would like to reiterate our sincere condolences to Matthew’s friends and family and our own commitment to providing high quality care.”