A CORONER has said it is “unacceptable” that a teenager had to wait nearly sixteen weeks for a mental health assessment to be completed.
Anthony Thompson, of Hazel Grove, Golborne, was referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) single access point service provided by Bridgewater NHS Trust by his GP on June 24 after admitting to his mum Angela Bowdler he felt low and had self harmed.
The 16-year-old was first seen by social worker Beverley Ashton on August 10 but she decided a follow up appointment was needed to better assess his mental health, an inquest at Bolton Coroners’ Court heard.
He was seen again by Mrs Ashton on September 1 when she concluded that he should be referred to the tier three CAMHS team provided by 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust, who would be able to offer a longer term and more specialised treatment programme, for further assessment
Mr Thompson, a keen rugby player and an aspiring architect, was given an appointment on October 14, nearly seven weeks later. He was found hanged in his room on September 27.
Area coroner Alan Walsh asked Mrs Ashton what had been put in place for Mr Thompson in the meantime.
She said: “We advised Miss Bowdler and Anthony that if he felt unsafe or she felt she couldn’t keep him safe to attend A&E where he would be seen by our CAMHS team there.”
He asked whether she had liaised with 5 Boroughs about the length of time between appointments she said she had not and that it was a standard waiting time.
She said: “If I had been made aware of further concerns I would have contacted the tier three team to discuss them.”
She said that according to her assessment Mr Thompson was at a high risk of anxiety and depression.
The court heard that Mr Thompson began feeling down when his maternal grandmother died at the end of 2014 but did not confide in his mum or sister until June when he hurt his back while playing rugby and had to attend a physiotherapy session where his mum would have seen the cuts to his arms.
Mr Walsh said in his mind “a 16 week wait was unacceptable” and also criticised the appointment letter that was sent from 5 Boroughs to Mr Thompson’s family which could have left them confused about who to contact if Mr Thompson’s condition had deteriorated.
Shelley Bunting, a nurse at the three tier CAMHS team, said: “From the referral documentation Anthony was given a routine appointment which have a waiting time of six to eight weeks.
“If the appointment is not convenient or the family has any concerns they can contact us and request an earlier meeting.”
But Mr Walsh pointed out that this was not stated in the letter which instead told them to contact their care coordinator despite no one having being identified as such.
Mrs Bunting said: “We accept there was a problem with the letters and have changed them to include details about attending at A&E and about contacting us to request an earlier meeting.”
Despite his concerns, Mr Walsh heard that both trusts were working together to provide more support during the interim period and were making sure families were aware of who they needed to contact before a care coordinator was assigned.
The court heard that Mr Thompson had seemed better in the weeks leading up to his death. His sister Charlotte Thompson told the court that he was planning to start playing rugby again, was talking about what car he would buy and wanting to study architecture at university.
Both Miss Thompson and Miss Bowdler said they didn’t know if Anthony had intended to take his own life.
Mr Walsh concluded that Mr Thompson’s cause of death was hanging and that he died as a result of misadventure.
He said was not sure that Mr Thompson had intended to take his life as he had not left any notes or messages for his family. He said maybe he had taken his self harm to the next level and got himself into a position he couldn’t get out of.
Paying tribute to Mr Thompson after the inquest, Miss Bowdler and his step-dad Francis Duffy said: “He was a wonderful, brilliant young man with a bright future.
“We have no issue with 5 Boroughs or Bridgewater, they got some things wrong but they have put them right and it would not have affected what happened to Anthony.”