NHS Compensates Family of Rail Death Patient

NHS Compensates Family of Rail Death Patient 25950

The NHS has compensated the family of a patient who killed herself after leaving hospital without supervision.

Samantha Maritza had been undergoing treatment at St George's Hospital in Staffordshire for depression four years ago. She had already gone to her GP beforehand regarding her mood swings and depressive symptoms, while she had also tried to commit suicide.

However, in June 2010 Ms Maritza had been allowed to leave St George's Hospital without supervision or escort. She subsequently went to Lichfield Trent Valley railway station where she walked in front of a train.

Ms Maritza's family argued that if better records had been kept on her case and condition, these events would not have been able to take place.

South Staffordshire and Shropshire NHS Trust was subsequently accused of negligence and a financial settlement with the family has now been reached.

Family Tribute

Ms Maritza's relatives intend to donate the compensation they have received to The Sam Maritza Trust - a memorial fund set up in her memory designed to raise awareness of mental health issues.

Her father Stephen has meanwhile called on St George's Hospital to alter its procedures in order to prevent a similar scenario from ever arising again, the Daily Mail reports.

"Sam was in the worst situation possible to be left on her own," he commented.

"Although we were hoping that things were getting better and she was coming back to us, we weren't even sure if she was taking her medication.

"It just didn't add up and we can't believe that letting her out alone was a risk they were prepared to take."

Mr Maritza said the hospital should have given his daughter another day to improve before being allowed to go out on her own.

He went on to state that the anger that came with the family's grief was "horrific" and stressed that mental health problems are an "illness not a weakness that needs to be hidden".

South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust confirmed that following Ms Maritza's death, a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding it took place.

Amanda Godfrey, spokeswoman for the trust, said this led to various changes regarding patient care being implemented.

For instance, she pointed out that staff are now required to make sure patient notes are completed in full and that observation sheets are filed correctly.

In addition, she said a new clinical information system that allows all staff to access health records electronically has recently been introduced.

Ms Godfrey stated that this gives employees at the hospital "more comprehensive and up-to-the-minute detail on each patient".

She added that the trust is "truly saddened" by Ms Maritza's death and sent its condolences to her family.

Mental Health

According to figures from the Mental Health Foundation, one in four people in the UK are likely to experience some sort of mental health issue during a single year.

Depression and mixed anxiety are the most common mental disorders in Britain, while women are more likely to undergo treatment for such conditions than men.

By Francesca Witney