Heysham gran attack family says NHS let dad down
'It should never have come to this. They failed him so many times.'
Charlotte Youren believes the lack of support her father Philip received contributed to his mental health deteriorating to the extent where eventually he attacked his own mother with a piece of concrete.
The 58-year-old was given an indefinite hospital order under the Mental Health Act by a crown court judge last week after pleading guilty to assault.
His mother Mavis, now 86, spent months in hospital following the attack at her home in Heysham in June 2015, but is now fully recovered.
Charlotte said both her dad and the family had repeatedly asked for extra support and for him to be sectioned.
Youren suffers from bipolar affective disorder and was under the Community Mental Health Team at the time of the incident, and was receiving community care and treatment.
An investigation on behalf of Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust into the incident found a catalogue of errors which led to Youren’s condition not being treated appropriately.
In particular, anti-psychotic drugs would have prevented the attack, the review found.
“They failed him so many times,” said Charlotte, 33.
“He had been sectioned on several occasions before and we had asked for him to be sectioned again before this happened.”
Charlotte’s dad underwent a quadruple heart bypass eight years ago and suffered complications which led to changes within his brain which caused memory loss.
This later contributed to him suffering a breakdown, Charlotte said, along with the death of his own father.
“He started to have mental health problems and it just spiralled out of control,” she said.
Youren eventually left the family home and moved in with his mother in 2014, but she repeatedly told the mental health team that she was unable to cope.
The hospital order means Youren will remain sectioned until he is deemed to be well enough to live independently, although he would then continue to be under supervision.
“A hospital order was the right thing for him. To go to prison would have been the worst possible outcome for him,” Charlotte said.
“The psychiatrist said in her opinion it’s not likely to occur again because of him now having the correct medication. He has no previous background of violence. He can’t remember anything about what he did. He has no recollection of it at all. There was no way he could have had any intent.
“But people will always judge. There’s too much of a stigma around mental health and unless you have experienced it then people aren’t sympathetic.
“Everything we want to do is to defend my dad. We have no other motive. We just feel so strongly that this wouldn’t have happened if the mental health system had worked.
“We have been fighting to do the right thing and help him but it’s like knocking your head against a brick wall. But now we know that there’s nothing more we could have done. We did everything we could have but we were completely helpless.
“It shouldn’t take someone nearly killing someone else for action to be taken and for him to be heard and get the help he needed all along. It should never have come to this.”
The post incident review on behalf of Lancashire Care found that the incident could not have been predicted, but could have been prevented had alternative interventions been considered which treated Youren’s psychosis more effectively.
The absence of psychosis would have prevented the incident, the review said, and the opportunity to prescribe a suitable anti-psychotic drug was missed.
The investigation identified several significant contributory factors which gave rise to the emergence of care and service delivery problems. These included a lack of safeguarding adults awareness by the care team, paperwork for Youren’s care plan not being up to date, weekly visits not always undertaken and a lack of management supervision.
Charlotte said the family is now hoping to put the horrific incident behind them.
“Now we hope we can all move on with our lives,” she said. “But we have never had an apology or any comeback. They say lessons have been learned but that’s not enough. People should be punished for this.”
A spokesman for Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust said: “This is a really tragic case and our thoughts are with the family.
“As with all serious incidents, the trust has undertaken a thorough review into the circumstances. The investigation concluded that the incident could not have been predicted, but could have been prevented had alternative interventions been considered.
“An action plan has been delivered and this has made improvements with regards to information sharing with GPs, safeguarding training and the prescribing of medication.”