Ashtons Legal assist family of Harston man who took his own life to take hospital trust to High Court
The family of a Harston man who took his own life after mental illness go to the High Court in London next week, claiming that he had been abandoned by his local mental health services. Philip Baker, age 51, took his own life on the 28 October 2010. For the last 20 years of his life, Mr Baker had been suffering from mental health issues, including emotional highs and lows.
In 2007, he sought help from Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and prescribed drugs to help stabilize his mood swings. In 2010 Mr Baker was referred to the Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust again by his GP, over concerns that he might be a risk to himself. On 29th September 2010 he was seen by a psychiatrist at the Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust and again prescribed mood stabilisers. It was recommended that his wife Pauline have a carer’s assessment as her own mental health was failing and another appointment was arranged for him to attend the clinic in a month’s time. But at that second appointment, on 26 October 2010, it was decided to discharge Mr Baker. This left him feeling abandoned and without hope. A carer’s assessment of his wife had still not taken place.
He was last seen at about 5pm the next day, and his body was discovered on the 28th October 2010 in an outbuilding with a plastic bag taped around his neck. Mr Baker’s wife Pauline and his son and daughter, Andrew Baker and Rebecca Piercey, suffered psychiatric injuries as a result of his death.
The family’s lawyer is mental health specialist lawyer Sharon Allison of Ashtons Legal. She explains:
“Mr Baker’s family argue that if the trust hadn’t discharged him from their care and instead involved the multi-disciplinary team for much needed support, it’s likely that he wouldn’t have gone on to commit suicide. He was let down when he needed support the most. I personally have settled over 10 cases in just over three years concerning suicides across East of England which have resulted from inadequate mental health care. The medical injury team at Ashtons Legal are investigating and/or actively litigating a similar number.
Mental health services across the east of England are in an appalling state. The historic and current lack of investment in adequate resources, training and expertise in this vulnerable field are taking their toll. How many more families will lose much loved and cherished family members before action is taken? Philip’s family now have to endure a High Court trial to establish the facts of his death and to prove that it was inadequate care which ultimately cost him his life.”
A four day trial within a five day window (beginning on 12 January) has been listed at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. No final date for commencement of the trial will be taken by the court until tomorrow (9 January).
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