Natalie ‘went to hospital for help’

Natalie Clayton and her grandmother Joan Brain
Natalie Clayton and her grandmother Joan Brain

THE MOTHER of a woman who died after she was found hanging at a mental health unit said that there were still unanswered questions relating to her daughter’s care.

Natalie Clayton, formerly Stephanie Williams, 35, of Egremont Place, who had been described as a ‘high suicide risk’ was found just hours after staff at Amberley mental health ward, in Eastbourne, moved her from round-the-clock observation to a 15-minute watch, on May 24, 2011.

She was taken to intensive care and placed on a life support machine, but died six days later.

Her mother Christina Williams, of Ashburnham Road, said of the inquest into Miss Clayton’s death, which took place at Eastbourne Town Hall last week: “It brought up more questions surrounding her death than I had ever thought of.”

Miss Clayton, who suffered from borderline personality disorder, reacted badly to the death of her grandmother in May 2011.

Mrs Williams said: “She was really bad, I’d never seen her like that. We thought it would be best that she go into hospital, and they would look after her.

“She went to them for help, and I think she really did want it.”

Mrs Williams criticised the decision taken by consultant psychiatrist Dr Connie Meijer to take her daughter off one-to-one observations in favour of being observed once every 15 minute period, just hours before she was found hanging, and said that instead, the doctor could have weaned her slowly off one-to-one observations, taking into account her ‘complex’ character rather than going by the textbook. She also had concerns over how the observations were carried out, after the inquest highlighted gaps in record-keeping, and said that as a result there were question marks over exactly what time Miss Clayton was found.

Paul Beynon, general manager for acute services in East Sussex for the trust, said at the inquest: “The use of one-to-one observations for a long period of time is clinically counter-productive.”

However he admitted there had been omissions with record-keeping. The jury at the inquest returned an ‘open verdict’ on February 1.

A spokesman for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Amberley ward, located at the DGH site, said: “We continue to extend our sincere condolences to Natalie Clayton’s family.

“A person’s safety has to be carefully balanced allowing their right for privacy and dignity whilst also considering their human rights.

“We continue to review the environment at the Department of Psychiatry and we have reduced risks as far as we can.”