Inquest returns verdict on Stacey Watling case

Altrincham based solicitors Price Slater Gawne has recently represented the family of Stacey Watling at a 4-day inquest at Warrington Coroners Court. Stacey tragically died on 27th May 2017 following an incident at Hollins Park Hospital.

Stacey suffered from Worcester Drought Syndrome, Bulbar Cerebral Palsy and mild/moderate learning difficulties.  She was detained under section 3 of the Mental Health Act to enable her to be treated at Hollins Park.  Stacey was placed on the Byron Ward at Hollins Park which is run by North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.  Whilst on the ward, Stacey was supposed to be under 2:1 observation which meant that 2 members of staff should have had her within eyesight at all times.  This was to prevent Stacey from accessing and swallowing foreign objects, since whilst on the ward she had made previous attempts to swallow paper towels, batteries, tissue and plasters.

The inquest heard that on 8th May 2017, whilst under 2:1 observation, Stacey managed to obtain and swallow a number of paper towels from the male toilets.  This was not witnessed by any of the staff observing her and it was Stacey herself who alerted them to it.  Stacey subsequently collapsed and an ambulance was called.  Paramedics resuscitated Stacey and she was taken to Warrington General Hospital.  She was subsequently diagnosed with a hypoxic brain injury and sadly died on 27th May 2017.

The inquest heard evidence from Stacey’s mother Denise Watling, the staff who were present on the Byron Ward, paramedics from the North West Ambulance Service and representatives from Trafford CCG who funded Stacey’s placement on the Byron ward.

The jury at the inquest in Warrington concluded that Stacey had died as a result of misadventure contributed to by neglect.  The jury found that Stacey received inadequate 2:1 observations on more than one occasion on 8th May 2017, which did not comply with the North West Boroughs Healthcare Foundation NHS Trust policy.  The jury also found that staff were not given hourly breaks from observations in line with policy due to understaffing of which the North West Boroughs Healthcare Foundation NHS Trust was aware.

Acting on behalf of the Watling family Laura Zander, Clinical Negligence Solicitor of Price Slater Gawne comments:

“This is a tragic case which has sadly resulted in the avoidable death of a vulnerable young girl.  The coroner is now considering what recommendations can be made to ensure that this does not happen again and will be liaising with the Watling family in relation to this.

Stacey Watling was a vibrant, fun-loving girl who was dearly loved by her family and friends.  The inquest heard evidence that whilst she had been placed on the Byron Ward this was not a suitable placement for Stacey.  It had been agreed that she required a supported placement within the community to enable her to have as much independence as possible.  A placement could not be found for Stacey and efforts to find a placement continued up to her death.  There is a national shortage of placements available for vulnerable young adults within the mental health system which is simply unacceptable.”