Stewarts were instructed by The Official Solicitor to act for PBM, a vulnerable client with a long history of mental illness. PBM sustained multiple injuries when he jumped in front of a tube train in January 2013. He suffered multiple fractures, burns, damage to his internal organs and a mild head injury. He was fortunate to survive.
Prior to his attempted suicide, PBM was being cared for under a Community Treatment Order (CTO), which is a part of the Mental Health Act that permits treatment to be provided at home and in the community, but with the possibility of recall to hospital for inpatient treatment. He was under the care of the defendant, the Barnet, Enfield & Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust. As part of the CTO, arrangements were made for PBM to be seen regularly by social workers employed by the Trust to monitor his mental health informally.
Unfortunately, PBM’s mental health deteriorated over time. This coincided with a failure by the social workers employed by the Trust to meet with him regularly, as had been planned. As a result, the defendant never recognised that PBM was suicidal and PBM was not recalled to hospital. No proper plans were put in place to address PBM’s care.
Hugh Johnson became involved in PBM’s case in 2013, whilst PBM was recovering from his physical injuries. Care was taken to ensure that PBM’s prognosis was clear; it was necessary to establish the extent to which his brain injury would impact his future needs and his mental health.
Expert evidence was obtained from consultant psychiatrists and an expert social worker. This confirmed that the care plans prepared by the Trust were inadequate and the plans that did exist had not been carried through. Liability was denied throughout the case; even at the point of settlement no admissions for any failures of care were made. A negotiated settlement was reached with the solicitors appointed for the Trust two months prior to trial.
PBM received intensive inpatient care for both his physical injuries and his mental health. He has, happily, made a good recovery from many of his injuries. The £900,000 settlement endorsed by the court in February 2018 reflects both the serious nature of the injuries caused to PBM and the fact that he does not require significant carer assistance to live independently.