Mother of two from Uckfield dies at cliffs near Eastbourne

A 41-year-old Uckfield woman died at the cliffs near Eastbourne last year, an inquest heard.

Monday, 13th September 2021, 3:03 pm

A 41-year-old Uckfield woman died at the cliffs near Eastbourne last year, an inquest heard.

The inquest at Eastbourne Town Hall on Thursday (September 9), heard Caroline Hinchliffe, a secretary from Church Street, died at the cliffs on September 4 2020.

Records from her GP revealed Mrs Hinchliffe was bipolar and was sectioned twice in the months leading up to her death – in June and July 2020.

Eastbourne Town Hall SUS-210216-141625001

Records said she was discharged for the second time on August 3. Mental health consultant Michele Travers told the inquest ‘she was doing okay’ at this point.

Tim Hinchliffe, Mrs Hinchliffe’s husband, said she had ‘severe depression and anxiety’ but she led a ‘relatively normal life outside of that’ with a large circle of friends and lots of sporting interests.

The inquest heard that on September 4 Mrs Hinchliffe took her two children to school as normal at 8.15am, but didn’t show up for a vet appointment at 9am that morning.

At 3.53pm, when she hadn’t turned up to her daughter’s birthday party, Mr Hinchliffe called police.

Vehicle checks took officers to Beachy Head, and a coastguard search at 6.10pm resulted in Mrs Hinchliffe’s body being found.

Since her death, nearly £35,000 has been raised for Bipolar UK and The Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team.

Now issues have been raised by Mrs Hinchliffe’s family about the treatment she received from mental health services, and improvements that could be made in the future.

Mr Hinchliffe said, “It seemed incredibly quick that she was sectioned then discharged.

“So much of this evidence points towards patient power, she said she was fine and the mental health staff listened to her.

“We didn’t think she was ready to be discharged. Our voices weren’t being heard at all.”

He also said it’s now been revealed through patient records and the Serious Incident report by the NHS trust, that Mrs Hinchliffe had shown suicidal thoughts in hospital in the months leading up to her death. He said this information wasn’t shared with the family at the time.

In response to the issues raised by the family, a spokesperson for the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said, “We offer our sincere condolences to Ms Hinchliffe’s family and friends. The safety of patients is our priority and is at the forefront of all decisions around care, treatment and discharge – the inquest heard how risks were mitigated and how we provided ongoing patient-focussed support.

“We value the experiences of families and carers and we are member of the Carers Trust Triangle of Care programme which recognises our commitment to involve, support and inform the family and friend carers of the people who use our services.”

East Sussex coroner Alan Craze ruled Mrs Hinchliffe took her own life.

• If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, the Samaritans may be able to help – the charity’s helpline number is 116 123.

Caroline Hinchliffe’s fundraising page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROSomeoneSpecialPage?pageUrl=CarolineHinchliffe2