July 7, 2017

Tragic heroin death highlights the importance of safe and effective search methods in mental health units

An investigation has been launched after a man died in a UK mental health unit. The cause of Mr Lowe’s death is unclear as toxicology reports have not yet been completed, but his family have been told he had taken heroin.

It's thought he took the drug while in hospital, and a separate investigation into how he came to have the drugs has been launched.

Dr Henry Ticehurst, medical director at Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust confirmed a patient at a low secure unit had died.

He said: “We can confirm that an inpatient at one of our low secure units reported feeling unwell on Sunday, June 25, due to taking an illicit substance. Staff acted appropriately and immediately contacted the emergency services.

“The circumstances surrounding how the patient came to have an illicit substance in their possession are currently under investigation by both the trust and the police. Until the investigations have concluded, it would be inappropriate to speculate.

“The aim of the care we provide is to enable patients to be safely and appropriately discharged back into the local community. Part of this process involves allowing patients leave from the unit.

“This may be supervised or unsupervised depending on the individual needs of the patient and a full clinical and risk assessment is always undertaken before any patient is allowed leave.

“We have robust policy and procedures in place regarding undertaking searches on patients, which are in line with the national Mental Health Act code of practice.”

Dr Ticehurst added: “We are in contact with the patient’s family and I would like to reiterate my deepest and most sincere condolences for their loss.

“The safety of our patients is our number one priority. We have a number of robust policies and procedures in place to protect our inpatients and our staff are highly trained and experienced.

“We have launched an immediate and thorough investigation to enable us to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident and we are working closely with Greater Manchester Police.”

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