Widow of Terrington St Clement man who took his own life felt 'scared for his safety and wellbeing' upon hospital discharge
The widow of a Terrington St Clement man who took his own life soon after being discharged from hospital has criticised his care.
Timothy Wood, 62, was found semi-conscious and motionless by a member of the public on Hunstanton beach in March 2020.
It was thought he had jumped from a cliff top. He was airlifted to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
In the weeks leading up to his death, Mr Wood had been known to mental health services through the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Kings Lynn NHS Trust and Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.
Following his death, Mr Wood’s wife Isabella instructed specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the care he had received prior to the tragedy.
A serious incident report conducted by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust found that there was a “clinical disconnection” between the trusts.
Amie Minns, the legal expert at Irwin Mitchell representing Mrs Woods, said after the hearing: “It has been an incredibly difficult time for Isabella, who has struggled with trying to deal with losing her husband.
“Timothy’s sudden death has had such a profound effect on his loved ones, and they understandably had concerns over the care he received before he died and whether enough was done to help him with his mental health struggles.
“While nothing will bring Timothy back, Isabella hopes that lessons are learned, so that other families don’t have to suffer the pain she has.”
Mr and Mrs Wood had been married for 28 years and Mrs Wood has a daughter from a previous relationship.
Following her husband's death, Mrs Wood said: “The past ten months have been unbearable, and I now have to face living the rest of my life without my husband. He was my soul mate.
“I feel that Tim’s death could have been avoided. I am hurt and disappointed at the care Timothy received.
"I know he had mental health issues in the lead up to his death, but I genuinely believe that if he had received proper support he would still be here.
“As a former nurse for the NHS, I find this particularly difficult to say, but I am determined that changes need to be made so no other family has to suffer what we have.”
The retired critical care nurse said her husband, also retired, had no history of mental health issues until last year.
When Mrs Wood suffered a heart attack in October, she said it had a lasting negative impact on him. She recalled that he had “become terrified of being left on his own”.
On the day of the heart attack, the nephew of Mr Wood’s best friend died in a car accident. His mental health further deteriorated, with him unable to stop thoughts of “death and loneliness”.
Mrs Wood said he was also affected by the sudden death of Caroline Flack in February, particularly after learning it was down to suicide.
In addition, her husband had been complaining of physical pains throughout his body, including abdominal pains, and was prescribed medication from his GP.
On February 24, Mr Wood was found passed out on the sofa, having taken an overdose.
He was taken to QEH by ambulance.
Mrs Wood said her husband tried to take his own life at least twice more while in hospital and was deemed high risk.
He continued to complain of abdominal pains. A serious incident report carried out by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundations Trust stated that a mental health consultant based at QEH believed Mr Wood's “suicidal ideation was linked directly to his abdominal pain”. A CT scan came back normal.
On February 27, a consultant psychiatrist for NSFT informed a treating clinician for QEH that Mr Wood was at risk of ending his life and that, if he was discharged home, he may attempt to end his life due to the absence of pain relief.
He was discharged the following day despite his abdominal pain remaining unresolved.
Mrs Wood said after the inquest at Norwich Coroner’s Court: “I was very concerned that he was not in a fit state to be coming home and I made my reservations clear to hospital staff, but I was reassured that it was safe.
“I felt utterly abandoned and scared for Timothy’s safety and wellbeing.”
After discharge Mr Wood had one call with a mental health nurse, on March 5.
On March 10, Mrs Wood found her husband rummaging round downstairs at 5.30am. She said he “seemed ok” so she went back to bed an hour later.
When she woke a second time, she couldn’t find him and also noticed the car keys were gone. She recalled feeling “a wave of dread” as she suspected he had “done something to hurt himself”.
Her fears were confirmed when Mr Wood was discovered on the beach. His car was found near a cliff edge.