Nicola Edgington, who had previously murdered her own mother, killed Sally Hodkin after series of failings
A series of failings by the NHS and police led to a psychiatric patient brutally murdering a grandmother, a report has concluded.
Nicola Edgington almost decapitated Sally Hodkin, 58, with a butcher’s knife in Bexleyheath, south-east London, in 2011, six years after killing her own mother.
Related: Police ‘missed chance to carry out checks on woman who went on to kill’
I was driven to the brink by the poor care my friend received. I finally left over pointless tasks
The first time I thought I should leave the NHS and never return was at my friend’s inquest. After struggling with mental health issues for many years he had taken his own life. At his inquest, I learnt that in the period leading up to his suicide his mental health appointments had all been with support workers and he had not once seen a qualified mental health nurse. I also discovered that his last five appointments had been with four different members of staff. The coroner asked about the level of the service he had received. The manager of the service cited difficulties with a large geographical patch and described the service he received as usual practice. As an NHS manager myself, I could see it may have been usual practice, but it was far from good enough.
As I drove home from the inquest my head was spinning with dissonant thoughts and questions. I was angry and upset. I was concerned for the service manager. I was furious with government cuts. I was worrying about the service I managed. I needed the noise in my head to stop. I found myself contemplating killing myself. I did not sleep that night. I knew I was unwell and so the next day I saw my GP. I needed three months off work for severe depression and anxiety. I had excellent talking therapy via my GP surgery and my counsellor continued to support me through and beyond my return to work.
Related: The NHS sets leaders up to fail – and then recruits more in the same mould
I was struck by their terrible experiences – the doctor who kept seeing a dead child and the person with an alcohol problem
When I began working as a psychologist at a large London teaching hospital I was fascinated and – a little overwhelmed – by the challenge of developing a new psychology service. I was employed solely for the 5,000 staff working in the hospital. Absolutely anyone could come and see me for psychological support, from the porters to the medical consultants. And they did. Over a 12-year period I saw many NHS staff.
Sometimes they were sent by managers who were worried about them. About their behaviour or their distress or the impact of a very traumatic event they had witnessed, for example. Others referred themselves in secret and hoped that no one would know they were coming. When they left they were always polite and thanked me but usually said that they hoped they would never see me again.
It sometimes felt like there was hope that staff could disappear for a bit and emerge intact and ready to work
Data shows over 166,000 were given such medication between April 2015 and June 2016, including 537 aged six or under
Tens of thousands of young people in England, including children as young as six, are being prescribed antidepressants by their doctors. The figures have prompted concern that medics may be overprescribing strong medication because of stretched and underfunded mental health services.
Data obtained by the Guardian shows that 166,510 under-18s, including 10,595 seven-to-12-year-olds and 537 aged six or younger, were given medication typically used to treat depression and anxiety between April 2015 and June 2016. The figures, released by NHS England under the Freedom of Information Act, show a 12% rise in the numbers taking the drugs over the same time period.
Related: Antidepressants prescribed far more in deprived English coastal towns
Related: Antidepressant prescriptions in England double in a decade
Party’s manifesto plans will change in wake of election, with possible shifts in stance on Brexit, grammar schools and social care
The first Queen’s speech of the new parliament will be nothing like as ambitious as Theresa May had hoped, given the Conservative party’s lack of an overall majority and the need to rely on the Democratic Unionist party of Northern Ireland to pass legislation. Only a handful of key policies are likely to survive:
Related: Tom Watson asks May: did Murdoch request Gove’s return to cabinet?
Related: Q&A: how will the UK election result affect Brexit talks?
Related: Can party politics be set aside to save social care? | Paul Burstow
The Tories betray wilful ignorance in refusing to acknowledge that some adults need support all their lives – asking them to pay care costs is wrong
Much has been said about the Conservative manifesto pledges on social care and Theresa May’s subsequent U-turn, but one issue that has so far escaped scrutiny is the Tories’ strange assumption that social care is all about older people. This is despite the fact that around a third of those who need social care services are of working age [pdf].
Social care affects all adults who need support because of a disability or long-term health condition. This might include a learning disability, a physical disability or severe and enduring mental ill-health. The failure of the Conservative manifesto to acknowledge any of this gives the impression of a party that is wilfully ignorant of the nature of adult social care and its beneficiaries.
Related: The ‘dementia tax’ mess shows how little May thinks of disabled people | Frances Ryan
Related: Forget money – we need to rethink what social care should look like
Guardian experts give their view on the main parties’ public service manifesto pledges. Here, our health editor looks at what’s in store for the NHS
• David Brindle on social care
• Patrick Butler on social security
• Dawn Foster on housing
• Frances Ryan on disability
• Anna Bawden on local government
• Alan Travis on home affairs
• Jane Dudman on the civil service
• Damian Carrington on the environment
• Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
The NHS in England would receive “the resources it needs – a minimum of £8bn in real terms over the next five years, delivering an increase in real funding per head of the population for every year of the parliament”. A further £10bn is pledged in capital spending. It would ensure that the NHS and social care system had all the health professionals “it needs” and it would train more homegrown medics. Backing the NHS’s Five Year Forward View and local sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) would lead to the controversial rundown of A&E and maternity units and changes to the roles of many hospitals. Any “necessary legislative changes” would be made to finally give STPs legal status. In addition, it would “review the operation of the internal market and make non-legislative changes to remove barriers to the integration of care”. GPs would provide seven-day access everywhere by 2019.
PM confronted by nurse over issue of low pay in Question Time special, while Jeremy Corbyn is questioned over Trident and national security
Theresa May came under sustained pressure over the Conservative party’s record on public sector pay, mental health services and social care in a combative election edition of BBC1’s Question Time broadcast less than a week before polling day.
The prime minister faced a string of awkward questions from members of the public, including a challenge from a nurse, Victoria Davey, who left May faltering after confronting her over the 1% pay increase received by NHS staff.
Related: Question Time leaders’ special: May under fire over NHS and education – live
Related: The Guardian view on the election: it’s Labour
Related: Question Time leaders’ special: panel verdict
Older people deserve respect and relief from the pressures and fears of declining physical and mental powers, say our readers
I have great respect for Simon Jenkins – he often cuts through the codswallop that often poses as journalism today. Unfortunately, he falls into the trap of Conservative thinking on social care (We all want to live longer, but someone must pay, 1 June). It does seem reasonable that those who have built up assets in their lifetimes should fund their own social care in old age, but this misses the whole point of a progressive system of taxation. Illness, frailty, misfortune can happen to anyone, rich or poor. It’s true the better off tend to live longer, with better health, but that does not mean that individuals cannot be struck down with early-onset dementia, or another devastating condition. Why should those families suffer more than other families whose progenitors were fortunate enough to enjoy perfect health? Progressive taxation, either on wealth or on income, spreads the risk and ensures that the rich and not-quite-so-rich pay their fair share towards the collective health of the nation. An inheritance tax too, properly graduated, should be part of the taxation mix, funding excellent state care for wealthy and poor alike, whatever their individual circumstances.
• Simon Jenkins is right, someone has to pay. But the need for care is a lottery and it falls unfairly on the 10% of those families whose relatives develop dementia, sometimes before they are even considered old. My relative developed Lewy body dementia at the age of 58. If he’d had cancer, he would have been cared for, but his family had to contribute to his nursing home care – after 12 years of his wife providing 24-hour care for free, with a devastating effect on her own life and freedom. Jenkins’s reference to past family situations belies the fact that women were the carers and they are now expected to work outside the home. The amount needed to provide care nationally is not so great in a rich country that we can’t all contribute to care for the sick and vulnerable, whatever their family wealth, just as we do for sick children.
It took ages to earn Sandra’s trust – she showed me how people’s lives can be consumed by the cruel fate of mental health problems
In medicine, psychiatry isn’t seen as glamorous. As a student and while training, you fight with your colleagues for the sexy jobs in cardiology, intensive care or on the frontline. When the crash call goes off, it’s dramatic; chest compressions, ventilation, trying to be the hero you see depicted on television. A job in psychiatry wasn’t my first choice, if there was a crisis, what would I do? Come running with my pen and notebook? Not exactly Oscar-winning stuff.
I had my reservations as I was about to embark on 91 days as a doctor in an adult inpatient psychiatric unit.
Related: The patient who showed me how to be a better doctor and person
I can refer people to mental health services and social care but they are overloaded and don’t provide much help
Recently a patient brought home to me how inadequate the help I can provide my elderly patients as a GP can be. Among more than 50 phone calls I fielded one day as one of the GPs dealing with urgent requests, there were two from a patient in her 80s who is the main carer for her husband who has dementia. She also has health issues and he is unaware of the problems they face. The receptionist learned far more about the difficulties they were having from the woman’s phone calls to the surgery and from observing them in the waiting room, than I did from my snatched telephone conversations and the scrawled note left for me. I found out later that the only way she could get to the surgery to bring the sample I requested was by locking her husband in the car outside. I knew that things were difficult, but this was a new low.
Over the last year I have been increasingly involved in the care of a man who is in his 80s and moved into my practice area to be nearer to his family. He enjoys telling me about his past when he gets the opportunity and I recall how his eyes sparkled as he told me that adopting his daughter was the best decision he and his late wife ever made. He knows his dementia is worsening and was the one who recognised the initial symptoms, well before these signs were noticed by others around him. He looks crestfallen as he recounts to me how he sees the frustration and sorrow in his daughter’s eyes when he asks the same question another time. He is annoyed by his failing health and memory and feels he is a burden to those around him. At times he is too proud to ask for help.
From his back to his stomach to his testicles, Robert Wells had been in pain for decades – but no one in the NHS believed him. So he turned it all into a hilarious graphic novel
Right now, life isn’t so bad for Robert Wells. “I get the odd uncomfortable day,” says the 48-year-old cartoonist. “But it’s not a major issue. You won’t catch me riding a bike, though.”
As recounted in his commendably – almost excruciatingly – honest new graphic novel, Wells has been experiencing chronic health problems since 1990, most notably a persistently upset stomach and a perennially aching right testicle. Which partly explains why his book is called Back, Sack & Crack (& Brain). If this sounds funny, he’s OK with that. “The main reason I wanted to do the book was because I could see quite a lot of opportunities for humour.”
The Linden Centre in Chelmsford has been the site of seven suicides by hanging since 2000 despite receiving repeated criticism for safety failures
Police have launched an inquiry into a series of deaths among patients at an NHS mental health hospital which has been regularly criticised for safety failings.
Essex and Kent police are jointly investigating an unspecified number of deaths at the Linden Centre mental health unit, which is based at Broomfield acute general hospital in Chelmsford, Essex.
The patients who use the Gellinudd Recovery Centre have a say in everything from policy to the decor. Could co-produced innovations be the future for mental health care?
Soft, neatly folded blankets hang invitingly over the backs of the modern but comfy armchairs in the Gellinudd Recovery Centre’s communal living room. In the en suite bedrooms, there are white waffle slippers and dressing gowns embroidered with the centre’s tree symbol.
Staff and guests – those who stay are not termed patients – join forces to cook, clean and tend the fruit and veg they then sit down to eat together at Gellinudd, which is the UK’s first inpatient mental health centre to be designed by service users and their carers. “If you’re a psychiatrist you’ll still be expected to be in the kitchen chopping vegetables alongside everyone else,” says the centre’s director, Alison Guyatt.
Coroner rules out unlawful killing but finds fault with medics and police who restrained graduate at London psychiatric hospital
The death of a man after prolonged restraint by police on a mental health ward was caused in part by “disproportionate and unreasonable” use of force, pain compliance techniques and multiple mechanical restraints, an inquest has found.
The narrative conclusion, which came after the coroner ruled out a verdict of unlawful killing, found fault with both police officers and medics involved in the death of Olaseni Lewis at Bethlem Royal hospital in south London in 2010.
Related: Man who died after police restraint was ‘gentle giant’, court told