Troubled teenager, 17, is found dead in the toilets of the crisis-hit mental health hospital where she was a patient as father attacks ‘terrible’ care claiming she was illegally strip-searched
- Christie Anne Brayley died in bathroom at West Lane Hospital in Middlesbrough
- Thought to have killed herself – although inquest will rule official cause of death
- Father slammed care she received from hospital, which was recently inspected
Christie Anne Brayley, 17, died in a bathroom at West Lane Hospital in Middlesbrough on Thursday after a two-year struggle with mental health issues
A troubled teenager has been found dead in the toilets of the crisis-hit mental health hospital where she was a patient.
Christie Anne Brayley, 17, died in a bathroom at West Lane Hospital in Middlesbrough on Thursday after a two-year struggle with mental health issues.
Her father, Michael Harnett, 32, slammed the ‘terrible’ care he said she received – claiming she was illegally strip searched, restrained and repeatedly sent home despite the family’s concerns she would self-harm.
The teenager, who had been an on and off patient in the years she was ill, is thought to have killed herself – but an inquest into her death will officially establish what happened.
Her father said: ‘How on earth could she kill herself in a hospital environment, which is meant to be helping her get better?
‘She has managed to escape from the wards, among many things she has managed to do that she should never have been doing.’
West Lane Hospital was temporarily suspended from admitting patients by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) following an unannounced inspection last week.
Mr Harnett said he often had to fight to convince staff to keep her daughter inside, and that Ms Brayley was ‘really struggling’ when she was readmitted on the day she died.
He said his daughter had asked to have a bath during the ward handover and nobody was aware anything had happened until her body was found.
In May, another father whose daughter had been sectioned and kept in the hospital spoke of his anger that medics wanted to release her despite him believing she was at risk of suicide.
He met with senior staff from the Tees, Esk and Wear Valley mental health trust about his concerns but frustrated with their response, he took to protesting outside the hospital.
The teenager, who had been an on and off patient in the years she was ill, is thought to have killed herself. Pictured is the hospital’s entry sign
In March, it was revealed 13 members of staff were facing disciplinary proceedings over the alleged ill treatment of patients.
They were among 20 who had been suspended over claims they used ‘non-approved’ techniques.
The CQC attended the hospital for an unannounced inspection of the Evergreen, Newberry and Westwood wards from June 20 to 24.
The inspection identified concerns about recording of observations, risk assessments and staffing levels.
Speaking about her daughter, Mr Harnett said: ‘She was absolutely amazing, we have been overwhelmed with the amount of support.
‘We have had so many messages off people about the amount of help she was giving them.
‘She thought about everybody else, she kept herself to herself, she was just quiet at the back but she talked to people when it was needed.’
He said Christie, who is one of six children, had a special bond with her younger brother, Riley, 7.
She was also a keen singer and her family hopes to spread a song she recorded called ‘Finding My Way’ about mental health struggles.
Colin Martin, chief executive at Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘Our priority is the safety and welfare of our patients.
‘We are taking immediate and urgent actions to address the concerns identified by the CQC – recording of observations, risk assessments and staffing levels given the acuity of patients.
‘We are developing a detailed response and working closely with the CQC to address the issues identified during the inspection.’
In May, another father whose daughter had been sectioned and kept in the hospital spoke of his anger that medics wanted to release her despite him believing she was at risk of suicide. Pictured is his protest sign
Elizabeth Moody, director of nursing and governance and deputy chief executive added: ‘Our thoughts are with Christie’s family and friends at this distressing time.
‘It would be inappropriate for the trust to comment on the care and treatment of any individual.
‘However we always carry out a full review when someone under our care dies so there will be a full investigation, which will be carried out along with other agency partners.’
Ms Brayley’s mother, Charlotte Harnett, 37, plans to set up a new charity called Christie’s Promise to help other families.
Her father added: ‘We just want to make sure that whatever failings the hospital has done, it all gets brought out in the open so it can get stopped and changed.’
For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details.
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