Mental health patient found dead in bed

A PATIENT at a mental health unit was found dead in bed by a nurse.

Recovering alcoholic Trevor Field, 45, of Crowborough Road, was discovered lying on his back while staying at Woodlands at the Conquest Hospital after staff became concerned for him.

An inquest into his death, which happened on June 24 last year, was held on Wednesday.

Denise Jones, a nursing assistant, said she became concerned as she could not hear Mr Field snoring in bed during her usual patient checks.

She said: “I could not see signs of breathing when I went into his room so notified my colleagues.”

Philip Payne, another nursing assistant, sounded the alarm and paramedics were called, while staff attempted to resuscitate Mr Field without success.

Jean Field, his mother, said her son suffered from bipolar disorder and his moods would get very low.

She said: “He was on a lot of medication for a while and had to have a hip replacement in February last year.

“His moods were getting lower and lower and would say there was nothing to get up for. We got concerned because this was the pattern that would lead him to start drinking again.”

Mrs Field said her son had stayed in Woodlands before and visited The Sanctuary.

Mr Field was admitted to the mental health unit on June 17, a week before his death, as his family were concerned about his mental well-being.

Mrs Field added: “It was a constant battle and every day we would not know what mood he would be in and whether he would start drinking again or not.”

Dr Robert Cameron-Wood, Mr Field’s GP, said he fractured his right hip in 1993 due to a motorcycle accident and subsequently took morphine for the pain until last February’s hip replacement operation.

He added: “Mr Field was regularly seen by the mental health services because of his alcoholism and recurrent depression.”

Dr Ian Hawley, the pathologist who carried out the postmortem, said he found it difficult to ascertain the cause of death.

He said there was some fibrosis of Mr Field’s liver but no cirrhosis due to alcoholism.

“There are a limited number of possibilities left such as an abnormality in the heart but it is pure speculation,” he added.

Staff at Woodlands also said Mr Field, despite his recurrent low moods, showed no signs of suicidal thoughts.

David Coffey, registered mental nurse, said: “He was an easy man to look after and had a sense of humour.

“He was going to get involved in the patents’ council at Woodlands so it was a big shock when we learned of his death, as he seemed in very good form.”

John Allsop, senior nurse practitioner, said his ‘firm belief’ when Mr Field was found dead was that his heart had just ‘given out’ due to prolonged alcohol use.

Coroner Alan Craze recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.