At the age of nine, C was diagnosed with high functioning autism and hyperacusis, the inability to filter sounds. He was placed into the care of Dr Mayall, a Paediatric Psychiatrist at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Under Dr Mayall's care, C went to a mainstream school, achieved good grades at GCSE and did well at sport, particularly rugby. He was accepted to study A-levels and was planning to go to university.
When C was 17, Dr Mayall told him he would no longer be able to care for him once he was 18 and referred him to Dr Gaddal, who treated adults, at the same hospital. C was very nervous about switching psychiatrists but met with Dr Gaddal. A few days later, Dr Gaddal wrote saying he could not treat C until he was 18. Because C was so upset, Dr Mayall agreed to continue seeing him until his 18th birthday.
Once C turned 18 in February 2011, he was referred back to Dr Gaddal. In March, C met with one of Dr Gaddal's team, Dr Bhardwaj and told him he had been having suicidal thoughts. He was reassured and told that a treatment plan would be put in place.
C did not hear from Dr Bhardwaj for several weeks. He began to struggle in the lead up to his A- levels. In April, C received a letter from Dr Bhardwaj discharging him from the hospital's care without a treatment plan. He was shocked by this letter, terrified that he would not be able to cope on his own. He became very withdrawn and depressed. His father, a GP, arranged an urgent appointment with Dr Mayall, who was also very concerned about C's condition.
On 13 May 2011, C attempted to hang himself from a tree in his garden. Fortunately, his father found him and was able to successfully resuscitate him and get him to A&E, followed by an inpatient stay at The Priory Hospital in Chelmsford. C was forced to defer his place at university for a year and both he and his father continue to have regular flashbacks of the trauma of the attempted suicide and the immediate aftermath.
C instructed Jonathan Zimmern in October 2011. Jonathan arranged for a Psychiatrist to comment on the care provided to C and subsequently wrote a letter of claim to Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.
In their letter of response, the Trust admitted liability. They conceded that, had C not been discharged from the hospital's care by Dr Bhardwaj, he would not have attempted suicide. Following this admission, Jonathan was able to secure a settlement of £30,000 for C.
C's father went on to say:
"I had to deal with the traumatic consequences of finding my son in the middle of a very serious suicide attempt. Medical negligence was the cause of him being as low as he was. Jonathan Zimmern of fieldfisher steered and guided us through the difficult and sometimes harrowing legal process that followed. In all that he did for my son he could not have been more sensitive, considerate and thoroughly professional. We are in his debt and hugely grateful."
Upon completion of the case, Jonathan Zimmern said:
"This potential tragedy was only narrowly avoided by C's father's quick actions. The reality is that C fell between two stalls, as neither the adult nor paediatric mental health services accepted responsibility for his care. Sadly, it is a situation that we are seeing more and more often."
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