Pensioner killer released early from secure unit

NHS
NHS

A man killed a pensioner after being released ‘prematurely’ from a secure psychiatric unit.

An independent investigation into the role of both Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire NHS Healthcare Trusts in the case of patient ‘R’ showed that despite missing many medical appointments and admitting hard drug use and crime, he was allowed to remain in the community.

R, diagnosed with three personality disorders, had originally been told he should spend seven years being treated in psychiatric hospitals following a string of robberies.

In fact, he only spent three years in hospital and was released into the community from a medium security hospital in Nottinghamshire in September 2007, after previously being detained in a high security hospital.

A year later he killed a 67-year-old man.

An investigation into the conduct of the healthcare trusts that treated him showed that R had his transfer into the community ‘accelerated’.

The inquiry showed that while he was in the medium security hospital, he was ‘argumentative and belligerent to staff and bullying vulnerable patients.’

Its main findings state: “The discharge from high to medium secure care was precipitate and the thoroughness of arrangements for continuing supportive care for R’s condition on discharge from the medium secure unit was poorly arranged.

“R’s transfer to the community was accelerated.

“Simply put, had the original time scales told to R been adhered to; at the time of the homicide R would still have been in a high security hospital.

“R would not have been able to commit the offence against the pensioner.

“The failure by Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust to establish the details of the offending history of R meant that his risk of harm to others was underestimated.

“Through his behaviour, R was able to dictate the pace of his journey through high and medium secure health services and his premature discharge unto the community.

“The community placement of R was poor and exposed him unnecessarily to known destabilisers.”

A statement from Nene Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Nene Clinical Commissioning Group would like to offer their deepest sympathies to the victim’s family.

“We welcome the thorough and open independent investigation undertaken concerning the care and management of R up to the point of the offence.

“This investigation resulted in a comprehensive report which concluded that the Northamptonshire Mental Health Services had complied with their statutory duties to proactively engage and support R when placed on a voluntary basis in the community.

“Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has developed and implemented an action plan in partnership with the commissioning group following the specific recommendations to the trust.

“The commissioning group will work with the trust to monitor the changes made in response to the recommendations in this report regarding pathway reviews and ensure the necessary actions are sustained through monitoring and compliance.

“The commissioning group has also already taken action to address the one specific commissioning recommendation in the report.”