Failures contributed to woman’s suicide

FAILURES by mental health workers contributed to the death of an Eastbourne poet who jumped in front of a train at Hampden Park, an inquest has heard.

Staff on Eastbourne DGH’s psychiatric ward refused to take Irene Hoggan back into care despite being rushed to hospital after allegedly overdosing on 200 pills to treat her diabetes.

The following day, February 21, 2009, 56-year-old Ms Hoggan threw herself into the path of a 70mph train at Hampden Park railway station.

The first half of the inquest was held on May 24 and it was adjourned because coroner Alan Craze wanted more information from the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust which provides mental health services.

The second half of the inquest took place on Tuesday (July 12) and Mr Craze said the trust’s mistakes had contributed to Ms Hoggan’s death.

Back in May, the inquest heard psychiatric staff had tried to wean published poet Ms Hoggan off direct hospital support.

She was put on temporary leave for the first time just two days before she died.

After spending two nights at her home in St Annes Road, paramedics brought Ms Hoggan into Eastbourne DGH claiming she had overdosed on a year’s worth of drugs.

She was told to wait in A&E to be assessed by the Crisis team but in a desperate attempt to get readmitted she walked 700 yards to the Bodiam Ward and asked a nurse if he would take her back.

She was told her bed had been given to someone else and was escorted back to A&E where she waited for almost four hours before leaving.

Psychiatric staff said she was a ‘low risk’ patient but the following day Ms Hoggan got a taxi to Hampden Park railway station where she threw herself onto the tracks.

Mr Craze said he was baffled by the oversights of hospital admission ‘gatekeepers’. At Tuesday’s hearing he recorded a verdict of suicide contributed to by neglect.

A spokesperson for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said, “This was a tragic incident and our sympathies go to Irene Hoggan’s partner and family.

“This incident took place almost two and a half years ago and the recommendations made following our internal investigation that followed have now been fully implemented. We have also taken full account of the findings of the inquest.

“We note the coroner’s acknowledgement and support for the changes we have made including new services to provide support to people in crisis, a new hospital liaison service which works extremely closely with Eastbourne DGH, and a new integrated inpatient and crisis service led by a single clinical team.”