Inquest into death of woman found hanged at hospital told she fled unit repeatedly

Lauren Finch
Lauren Finch

A woman found hanged at a borough hospital had made several previous attempts to take her life, an inquest heard.

Lauren Finch, 23, died on September 24 last year at Royal Bolton Hospital, one week after she was discovered in her room on Westleigh ward at Atherleigh Park Hospital in Leigh.

She had been detained there under the Mental Health Act (section two).

A nine-day inquest into her death, which began at Bolton Coroner’s Court on Tuesday, heard Lauren had tried to take her own life several times in the preceding months.

She had also escaped from the mental health unit a number of times.

Her mother Victoria criticised the response of staff at Atherleigh Park, who she accused of failing to listen to her concerns and dismissing her daughter’s feelings.

She told the inquest she could not understand why Lauren kept being discharged without any care arrangements in place, despite repeated attempts to end her life.

Lauren, from Goose Green, was studying at university to become a veterinary nurse.

She had a history of mental illness and had been diagnosed with depression, anxiety and emotionally unstable personality disorder.

Her mental health worsened early last year and she spent several periods on Atherleigh Park’s Westleigh ward.

She was first admitted to the hospital on a self-referral basis in March 2018 after experiencing “disturbed thoughts” and a desire to self-harm, but was discharged a week later.

Lauren was admitted to the hospital several times during the summer after repeated attempts to take her own life.

There were two incidents at Haigh Woodland Park - one where she threatened to jump into a river and another when she was found on a bridge after self-harming and taking a large amount of tablets.

On another occasion, she had to be pulled back from the edge of a multi-storey car park in Wigan town centre by a police officer.

She was repeatedly sectioned before being discharged from the hospital.

Mrs Finch said she felt her daughter was being “pushed from person to person, service to service, without the treatment she needed” and believed she had “lost trust in the service”.

Mrs Finch raised concerns with staff at the hospital that her daughter would take her own life, but claims they were dismissed.

Lauren was sectioned again on September 13 last year, after being reported missing and found by police with cuts to her arm.

She had told loved ones she was taking their dog for a walk, but instead left the animal tied up in the garden.

Staff at Atherleigh Park called her mother the following day to tell her Lauren had run away while waiting for a taxi after being discharged.

She was found on the A580 East Lancashire Road and told police she had been going to the M6 to end her life.

On September 16, Lauren left the hospital again after following a doctor through a door.

Police officers traced her to Lilford Park in Leigh and managed to restrain her following a short chase.

However, Mrs Finch told the inquest the incident left her daughter with bruising to her ribs and the side of her body.

She claimed one officer had knelt on Lauren’s ribs and put his fingers on a pressure point behind her ears, before calling her a “stupid girl” and asking why she had tried to run off.

The following day, Mrs Finch contacted the manager of the ward Lauren was staying on to say she was unhappy about her care and the fact she had been allowed to escape.

Sadly, later that day, she received a phone call from staff to say her daughter had been taken to Royal Bolton Hospital after being found collapsed in her room.

Paying tribute to her daughter, Mrs Finch said: “Lauren was a gentle soul and the pain of missing her is unbearable. She is missed every day.”

The inquest, which is expected to last until the end of next week, continues today at Bolton Coroner’s Court.