Coroner’s fury over evidence

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THE coroner investigating the deaths of a Wigan man who hanged himself after killing his wife has slammed a mental health unit at Leigh Infirmary.

At an inquest into the deaths of 71-year-old John Darbyshire and his 70-year-old wife Jean, the coroner, Jennifer Leeming, said that her job was made more difficult by hospitals and clinicians not keeping accurate documented evidence of patients records.

Mr and Mrs Darbyshire were discovered by their son David at their home on Whiteside Avenue, Hindley, on September 10 2009.

A forensic pathologist has said that she believed that Mr Darbyshire, a retired coal miner with a history of mental health problems, had strangled his wife, Jean, who suffered from dementia, before hanging himself in the garage of their bungalow.

The court heard how Mr Darbyshire had assaulted his wife a year before their deaths, leading to both of them being taken into care. Mr Darbyshire to the Holdenbrook Unit at Leigh Infirmary - a mental health ward run by the 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

On the second day of the hearing at Bolton Corner’s Court, Geoffrey Kupera, a staff nurse at the Holdenbrook unit, said that Mr Darbyshire had been discharged from the unit after successfully completing a home leave assessment having spent some five months on the ward. Mr Darbyshire was said to be not at risk to him self or anybody else after being assessed by the team at the Holdenbrook unit.

Mr Kupera said: “John was doing fine in the community. He was less agitated and was doing well back in his home. We are constantly risk assessing patients, so it cannot all be written up in reports.”

Mrs Leeming blasted the standards of record keeping. She said: “It is vital that all of this is recorded, even if it is not contemporaneously, before you go off shift.

“One difficulty we have is dealing with hospitals and clinicians’ notes. We constantly see people who tell us things have happened without them being recorded.”