Call for independent investigations after South Wootton man’s inquest

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The parents of a man who died while in the care of a Lynn mental health unit say they have been denied justice following an inquest into his death.

Last week, a jury concluded that 36-year-old Christopher Higgins had taken his own life while he was a patient in the Fermoy unit in 2013.

But his parents, Jon and Ann, are unhappy the jury was not allowed to comment on several issues about his care and have called for independent investigations to take place in cases such as theirs.

Mr Higgins said: “It’s incredibly disappointing. We don’t feel any sense of justice or closure whatsoever.”

Following the inquest, the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the unit, said lessons had been learned following Christopher’s death.

Jane Sayer, the trust’s director of nursing, quality and patient safety, added: “We will continue to address any further issues that we have identified from the findings of the inquest.”

Mr Higgins accepted the trust’s insistence that lessons have been learned and said it was unlikely they would launch a claim for compensation against the trust, saying that would feel like “blood money”.

But the couple believe three separate reviews instigated by the trust did not go far enough to address failings in his care.

They unsuccessfully sought an independent investigation and say unexpected deaths like Christopher’s must be examined by an outside body, as similar cases in police and prison custody are.

They said: “We strongly believe that it is only after fully independent investigations, that involve from the outset the families of those who have lost their lives, that there will be assurance that mistakes and shortcomings, both personal and institutional, have been identified.

“Only after this can the correct remedial actions be taken, with an agreed timetable for implementation and review.”