[2009]

EWHC. Claimant went absent without leave from a psychiatric unit at the Defendant Trust's hospital where he had been admitted as a voluntary patient. Nine days later he attempted suicide by throwing himself under a tube train, surviving with serious head wounds and pelvic fractures. He had a long standing history of depression and anxiety and had been initially admitted as a voluntary patient after previous attempted suicide.

Claimant alleged the Trust had failed to protect him from himself by taking sufficient steps to ensure he remained at the unit and by not properly assessing his mental state. Liability disputed.

Out of court settlement: £400,000 (estimated General Damages £65,000).

The recent House of Lords case of Savage v South Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust held that a detained mental patient's right to life (Article 2, Human Rights Act 1998 ) can be violated if the patient was at real and immediate risk of suicide and the medical authorities failed to do all that was reasonably expected to prevent the patient from committing suicide. We reported on this case in February's Medical Law Brief. Click here to read the case summary