Inquest into tragic death of highly talented young Meldreth man
An inquest opens today, Monday (13 June) into the death of a highly talented young Meldreth man.
Edward Mallen, aged 18, had a bright future ahead of him. Head boy at both his primary and secondary schools and a gifted pianist, Edward was a straight A student and had received an offer to study Geography at Cambridge University.
But just before Christmas 2014 Edward began to become withdrawn and depressed. It was clear by the weekend of the 17 and 18 January 2015 that he was unwell and his parents encouraged him to see his GP.
The appointment was on 22 January. Although they were not aware at the time, Edward’s parents subsequently learned that he told his GP of having suicidal thoughts and of self harming behaviour.
He was prescribed anti-depressants and was referred to Cambridge & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) on an emergency basis.He subsequently attended an appointment at Fulbourn Hospital on 26 January and was told by telephone the next day that he would receive a routine referral to an assessment psychiatrist in the post.
According to his father, Steve, Edward took comfort from the fact that there appeared to be a way forward.
However, from that point on there was no further communication from the trust. A letter was sent, dated 29 January, offering an appointment with a psychiatrist on 24 February.But it was never received as it was incorrectly addressed.
Having heard nothing from the Trust and with his condition deteriorating, Edward confided to his mother Suzanne that he had been self harming and needed help. In view of the lack of contact from the Trust, his parents felt that they needed urgent help and on 6 February Edward visited a private psychologist near Cambridge.
Edward told his parents that the consultation had been helpful and a further appointment was arranged for 13 February.
But on 9 February, Edward left home at lunchtime and went into Hills Road Sixth Form College to hand in some homework. On his return after lunch, he left the train at Meldreth, his home village. He never returned to the family home.
Edward was hit by an express train shortly after 3pm and killed instantly just a few hundred yards from the home where he grew up.
Since his death and following a public promise made at his funeral, Edward’s father Steve has become a prominent mental health campaigner.
He has set up the MindEd and recently organized a conference at Cambridge University which drew prominent politicians and mental health professionals from across the country.
Steve Mallen comments: ‘Following the terrible death of my son, it has become clear to me that adolescent mental illness is one of greatest challenges facing this country.
‘Together with many other parents and committed organisations, I am pressing for urgent reform throughout the health and education system. This is the very least Edward would have expected of me and the very least his generation deserves.’
The Mallen family’s lawyer is medical negligence specialist, Sharon Allison, a partner with Ashtons Legal.
‘The loss of Edward Mallen is a catastrophic tragedy,’ Sharon Allison says.‘What we see in this case, together with countless others, is the continued disjointed, under-resourced and isolated way healthcare agencies work in relation to mental illness, particularly in young people.
‘This leads to trauma and tragedy as patients fall through the cracks in a broken system which lacks transparency and accountability. The current system is totally unacceptable.
‘But I’m optimistic that the attention this case has attracted, together with the remarkable work Steve Mallen has achieved with The MindEd Trust, will help to turn the tide in this crisis.
‘Whilst this work is clearly essential, the purpose of the inquest is of course to establish the facts of the case and whether lessons may be learned. We will be doing all we can to assist the coroner in this regard.’
The Inquest is to be held at Huntingdon town hall at 9.30am on 13 June and is scheduled to last for two days.
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