Coroner hits out at trust

Mark Watkinson
Mark Watkinson

MENTAL health services in Wigan have been blasted following the death of a 30-year-old man who was found hanged.

Mark Watkinson, of Knowles Places, Scholes was found dead on July 28 last year by friends, an inquest in Bolton heard.

Despite attempts to revive him, he was pronounced dead an hour later.

The court heard how a series of personal tragedies, including the death of his pet dog, Molly, led to Mr Watkinson repeatedly self-harming himself and visiting his GP.

However, despite three separate referrals from his doctor to the Wigan Gateway Team, part of the Five Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust which provides mental health services to the region, the Trust admitted no-one followed up the referrals after his file was lost.

Recording an open verdict, the Deputy Coroner for Manchester West, Alan Walsh, told the court that the actions of the Trust were “unacceptable.” He said: “While it may not have made any difference in this case, it could well have in countless others and for one person to fall through the net is unacceptable.”

Robin Evans, a team leader for the advisory service at the Gateway, based in Boston House on Frog Lane, said: “We are currently carrying out an investigation as to how this happened and we have implemented procedures to make sure all referrals and missed appointments are followed up.

“Such anomalies account for less than one per cent of every case we see. In the past, we used a lot of agency staff. As a result of our investigations, we now have permanent staff who are fully trained and under strict supervision.”

The inquest heard how Mr Watkinson became depressed in 2008 after losing his job as a vehicle mechanic, which he had had since leaving school at 16. Shortly after he broke up from his long-term fiancee and he fell heavily into debt owing rent and council tax, causing him to drink heavily. He was hard hit by the death of his mother in 2000.

Mr Watkinson’s twin sister, Amanda, said that while he had confided to her about his problems, he had seemed happier following a new relationship.

She said: “He was in a lot of debt and what with losing our mother and his dog, as well as his job, it hit him hard.

“But he seemed to be getting better in the months since he met Kelly and I was so shocked when I heard what had happened. He was a great brother and a lovely person.”

A post-mortem examination found that Mr Watksinon’s blood showed a high alcohol content, with evidence of amphetamines and temazepam which have clouded his judgement.

Mr Watkinson’s GP, Dr Caroline Rayner, told the inquest that she believed his self harming was a “cry for help.”