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Case Study

Successful settlement for family following catastrophic failings in mental health care in Oxford

Earlier this year, Jonathan Zimmern successfully obtained a £55,000 settlement for Claire, the widow of a 39-year-old businessman, who committed suicide following negligent treatment by the Aylesbury Adult Mental Health Team (AAMHT), part of the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. Claire made one claim on behalf of her late husband, Daniel, and another on behalf of herself and their son.

Daniel had a previously well-managed history of depression and anxiety. However from March 2015, his mental health deteriorated rapidly resulting in several suicide threats and attempts. Clinicians failed to accurately diagnose Daniel, reporting that he was suffering from "reactive depression" as a result of marital troubles. This was an outdated and inaccurate diagnosis.

By June 2015, Daniel's condition had worsened to the point he required inpatient treatment and was held under the Mental Health Act. Despite this, clinicians failed to reconsider his diagnosis or treatment plan.

The possibility of marital breakdown was identified by the mental health team as a key risk factor for Daniel in triggering suicidal tendencies. However, no further risk assessment was undertaken when his relationship eventually ended. On discharge from the inpatient unit, Daniel was not provided with a care plan or adequate support, and when his condition became unmanageable for his mother, the mental health team advised that she limit her contact with him. Throughout this entire period, clinicians consistently underestimated Daniel's level of suicide risk.

In the weeks prior to Daniel's death in August 2015, family members reached out to the mental health team asking that he be provided with increased support. This was not provided, with fatal consequences.

Jonathan negotiated with the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, which eventually settled the claim before trial. There were substantial difficulties with this claim, including Claire and Daniel's separation and the fact that Daniel's ill health meant that, even prior to his death, his ability to financially support his family was limited. In light of these factors, the settlement of £55,000 was an extremely good result.

Contact us

For further information about clinical negligence claims, please call Jonathan Zimmern on 020 7861 4218 or email jonathan.zimmern@fieldfisher.com.

Alternatively

All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including no win, no fee.

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