Mental health officials in East Yorkshire say they ‘deeply regret’ their failure to adequately support a Bridlington father who took his own life following a battle with depression and alcoholism.
Father-of-one Jonathon Mark Janney – known to his family and friends as Mark – had hidden his personal troubles from his family, who were left angered after an inquest into his death, and legal investigations into the standard of his care, highlighted clear failings.
Mr Janney was discharged from hospitals on three occasions in the fortnight before his death, twice after taking overdoses of the medication he was taking to manage his alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
On the other occasion, police had removed him from his flat after forcing their way in and finding him with a hangman’s noose made from electrical wire.
Mr Janney’s family have had apologies from both the Humber NHS Foundation Trust and the Tees, Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, with each admitting their failings in the standards of care they provided, with the family set to receive £14,000 in damages.
However, his brother Nick, 49, also of Bridlington, says it is too little, too late, particularly given his brother leaves behind a devastated 14-year-old son.
He says he wants people to be aware of his brother’s story and raise awareness of the importance of dealing with mental health issues in the right way.
He has suffered from depression since his brother’s death and although he says no amount of money will ever compensate for the loss of his brother, he does not want any other family to experience the same problems and loss.
“The whole think stinks, Mark was badly let down,” said Nick Janney.
“He worked hard all his life and they let him down right at the end when he needed help most. It makes me feel sick. They should have done more for him. Mark had clearly tried to seek help, but was turned away by mental health officials three times. He was also regularly seeing his GP.
“I want to get justice for my brother and I want to try and do my best so no other family has to go through this. None of us in his family had a clue.
“He was a proud lad. He hid it so well. It’s the type of lad he was. He was trying to seek help through official channels and they didn’t want to know.”
Struggling to cope with his troubles, the 41-year-old steel erector from Bridlington first admitted himself to the A&E department at Scarborough General Hospital on May 21, 2011, having overdosed on his medication. He said he had argued with his partner but regretted taking the tablets.
He was seen and assessed by the Scarborough Crisis Team the following day, who concluded there was no further evidence of suicidal intent and recommended that he be referred to the Bridlington Crisis Team and have a home visit by a GP.
However, a day later, police had to force themselves into Mr Janney’s flat when his partner of six months received a number of concerning text messages, and having found a hangman’s noose made from electrical wire, an officer called Buckrose Mental Health Unit at Bridlington Hospital to refer him. Mr Janney was still not admitted for assessment though, despite the requests of the officer, who then took him to the Minor Injuries Unit at Bridlington Hospital, where he was also turned away.
The officer returned Mr Janney home, only for him to be taken to Scarborough General Hospital again six days later, having again taken an overdose of his medication, and having drank a large amount of vodka.
Again, as he said it was an ‘impulsive act’, Mr Janney was discharged home, before taking his own life and was found dead on June 6.
Whilst both health trusts have apologised to Mr Janney’s family, it has been Tees, Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust which has accepted liability for his death, and agreed to compensate the family.
They admitted their failure to carry out an appropriate, full assessment on Mr Janney’s first hospital visit after overdosing was ultimately responsible for the poor care which followed.
Humber NHS Foundation Trust said it ‘deeply regrets’ that the standard of care it provided was ‘inadequate’.
Nicola Evans, assistant solicitor at medical negligence specialists Neil Hudgell Solicitors, says lessons must be learned from the failings highlighted in the case.
She said: “This has quite understandably been a very upsetting time for the family of Mr Janney, as they were unaware of the deep problems he was facing in his life and how desperate he was for help. In a cruel twist of fate, Nick, an embalmer for a funeral directors, was the on-call undertaker in Bridlington the night Mark died, and it was he who took the call from the police asking if he could attend a sudden death.
“My dad had already rang because he had found out half an hour before, so I asked the police if it was Mark and they confirmed it was,” he said.
“I couldn’t believe it. As far as we knew, Mark had no history of depression. But he hid it from us well and he was always laughing and joking. The last time I saw him was a couple of days before he died and he seemed his normal self.
“The police said I wasn’t allowed to attend but I told them I didn’t care and I was going anyway. In the end, I was allowed to say who went and I asked our sister branch in Driffield to go. It was such a shock. Mark was a happy-go-lucky guy and he had a heart of gold. We used to go fishing together.”
Although he was unemployed at the time of his death, Mr Janney had previously helped to build the Stadium of Light in Sunderland.
The majority of the £14,000 compensation will go to Mr Janney’s son after his mother is recompensed for funeral expenses.