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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: UK Family Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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My daughter has been in a mental health hospital for a month

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My daughter has been in a mental health hospital for a month now after self harming and a third attempt at suicide. Last week she wasn’t supervised and cut her arms and thighs without anyone realising this. It was only my husband and I who noticed this after her weekend visit at home and we got in touch with the mental hospital instantly. Three days ago she left the mental hospital with a friend when the hospital should have supposedly been locked and they should have been supervised at all times. They were found after the help from the police.

Is this behavior acceptable? Can I make a complaint against this mental health hospital and ask for some sort of fine or do I have no chances of winning?
What do you suggest I do?

Many thanks.

Thank you for your question and welcome to Just Answer. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

Is she on constant watch? Is she a suicide risk?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

She is in Chalkhill hospital. Suicide risk high. It's a close area with locks everywhere. She's got own room where she sleep. During the night she go to bed at 10pm. Door to her room is not lock. Person on the watch supposed to checks what she is doing every hour. From 7.30am to 10pm she is on constant watch in living area (main hall) where the other patients are.


Its an arguable point actually. As with all of this self harming incidents which take place while in the custody of another, there is prima facie a case to answer.

You essentially have to show negligence. The fact that she was on constant watch and was still able to do this doesn't necessarily mean negligence. Obviously some people are very manipulative. However, it does give rise to that inference

The difficulty with claiming compensation is that you yourself have not suffered loss. She has suffered loss but since she was thankfully not able to commit suicide the loss was not of a significant kind. The sums claimed would be low.

A better option though is to complain to the ombudsman. I suspect your aim anyway was to punish them for neglect rather than claim compensation. If so, that would be achieved.

Can I help further?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for the informative answer.

I am only confused what the ombudsman is. Is that an organisation? Where exactly do I complain to? Also, what will be the consequences of the complain, how exactly would they be punished?
What exactly should the complain include?


The whole point of her staying in the mental health hospital is that she wouldn't be able to self harm or commit suicide again. I am very worried for her safety and I believe she isn't any safer there than if she was at home. I have an appointment on 22nd of July to discuss her progress. Would I have the right to sign her out or do they have the right to keep her as long as they want? If they can't keep her safe from further harm what is the point in keeping her longer?


Once again, thank you.

Well, thats more of a point for the tribunal that considers her release. Quite a lot of the things that people are detained for a not prevented by being held on section. If you think about it arsonists can still start fires on section. Usually the answer you will get is that a mental health ward is a contained environment which reduces the risk.

The complaints procedure is here

Whether or not they are punished depends on the negligence. Obviously being on constant watch cannot guarantee that nothing will ever go wrong.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The doctors wanted to help so she got sent to the mental health ward. We don't want them to get in trouble, so maybe the complaint isn't a good idea? We would just like to take her out so is that possible without causing any trouble? They seem to be trying because she was sent for a CBT to a local hospital. We just want as much help for her as possible, not to complain.

We would like to take her home on the 22nd. Can they object?


Yes, this is a very difficult situation.

Obviously you can appeal to the managers and to the tribunal.

The problem with self harm is that even those on constant watch do still find ways to self harm sometimes. The risk is reduced on a mental health ward but not eradicated.

That said, I used to do appeals to the tribunal and not all mental health wards are particularly caring places so I can completely see your wish to remove her early.
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