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Oxleas NHS Trust admits death of depressed mother could have been prevented
A MENTAL health trust has admitted liability for the death of a Beckenham mother who killed herself by stuffing tissue in her throat.
Diana Mager was suffering from severe post-natal depression having given birth to her daughter Sofia in 2011.
The 33-year-old, of Park Road, began self-harming and picking at her skin and was suffering from chronic anxiety and delusions when she was admitted to Green Parks House in June last year.
Her widow Adam believed she would be properly cared for at the hospital, which is run by Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust.
But in the early hours of August 8 last year he was left feeling ‘numb’ after being told she had blocked her airway with tissue and had died.
During an inquest into Mrs Mager’s death earlier this year, the Trust contended her death "could not have been predicted or prevented".
However after her family served legal proceedings, the trust admitted liability, acknowledging her death could have and should have been prevented.
Mrs Mager’s death came after several incidents when she was on leave from the unit.
The first time she was allowed unescorted leave, supposedly for no more than 30 minutes, she told staff she was going to have a pedicure.
Instead she went to the members bar on the fifth floor at the Tate Modern, where she had gone with her husband a few days before.
She climbed over the barrier outside and had to be pulled back and was then taken to St Thomas’s Hospital where she was seen by a mental health team from South London and Maudsley trust (SLAM).
The SLAM team which saw her classed her as being ‘at a high risk of suicide’.
Despite this and Mr Mager’s concerns, when she was returned to Green Parks House the staff did not raise his wife’s level of observation to level three, effectively suicide watch.
She also managed to smuggle a kitchen knife into the mental health unit after an escorted leave visit.
And twice she tried to get large quantities of prescription drugs into Green Parks House after an escorted visit.
Mr Mager said: "I always believed Diana would be alive today if she had received the proper care she desperately needed.
"Instead, I have to explain to our daughter why her mother is no longer with us."
Medical negligence solicitor Mark Bowman, of Field Fisher Waterhouse Solicitors, representing Mr Mager, said: "I am pleased to see liability has finally been admitted by the Trust in this matter.
"I am however concerned the admission comes after the Trust had initially claimed, following a full and through investigation, that Diana's death could not have been predicted or prevented."
And a spokesman for Oxleas said: "We would once again, like to offer our sincere condolences to her husband and family.
"We undertook an internal investigation following Mrs Mager’s death, which identified some learning for us.
"We take the death of a patient very seriously and have since taken further expert advice.
"Following this, we will now review our internal inquiry to identify further learning and ensure this is put in place."
At the inquest at Croydon Coroner's Court Dr Roy Palmer recorded a verdict of misadventure.
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