NHS Pays £400,000 Damages Following Psychiatric Patient’s Suicide

The NHS owes a duty to protect mentally ill patients from themselves and, where a failure to match up to that obligation results in injury or death, it is only right that compensation is paid. In a case on point, the family of a young mother who took her own life soon after she was discharged from a mental health unit won six-figure damages.

The mother had made a previous attempt at suicide after suffering a severe mental health crisis. She voluntarily sought psychiatric help and was admitted to the unit. She was, however, swiftly discharged after she insisted that she wished to leave. She took her own life three days later, leaving her husband to bring up their two children, aged seven and 14, as a single parent.

Her family launched proceedings against the NHS trust that ran the unit, alleging that the mother’s discharge was premature and negligent. The trust made no admission of liability but, following negotiations, it agreed to settle the claim for £400,000, plus costs.

In approving the compromise, the High Court praised the husband as a devoted father who had done his utmost to reduce the impact of his wife’s death on their children. Although no amount of money could turn back the clock, the settlement provided the great advantage of certainty and drew a line under the case, enabling the family to move on with their lives.