7th May 2014

10am Thursday 8th May 2014
Court 11, Royal Courts of Justice, London
Before Deputy Coroner Dr. Shirley Radcliffe

28 year old Natalie Thomas was found on 2 January 2013 by a fellow patient hanging in her room in the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit of London’s St Charles Hospital. She died 4 days later at St Mary’s Hospital.  The inquest into her death will be heard by a jury at Westminster Coroner’s Court starting on 8th May. It is due to last 3 days.

Natalie became ill in November 2011 and she was admitted to hospital thought to be suffering from depression. When she was discharged in January 2012, against the wishes of her family, the diagnosis was of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder and a Mental and Behavioural Disorder due to use of alcohol and cannabinoids. During her time in hospital Natalie’s young son was removed from her care and care proceedings begun.

Natalie’s behaviour declined and she was arrested on 16 August for criminal damage following an argument with her boyfriend and remanded to HMP Bronzefield.

Once at HMP Bronzefield her mental health seriously declined. She was held in the Separation and Care Unit from 22 September because her behaviour made her difficult to manage. She was locked in her cell for 23 hours a day and three officers had to be present to unlock her.

She was transferred from prison to St Charles Hospital on 28 November 2012. She was diagnosed as suffering from Bipolar Affective Disorder and various medications were started.

During a reading activity on 31 December Natalie said she was feeling depressed, without hope and tired of living.  On 1 January she asked for medication for depression as she was feeling low. She was found at about 7pm on 2nd January hanging from her bathroom door by a scarf given to her as a Christmas present by her mother.  She was taken to St Mary’s Hospital where she subsequently died.

Natalie’s family hope that the inquest will be able to address the serious questions and concerns they have about the care and treatment Natalie received including:

  1. The adequacy of risk assessments and care planning
    2. The role of a primary/named nurse
    3. The adequacy of the audit process
    4. The adequacy of documentation
    5. Security provisions

INQUEST has been working with the family of Natalie Thomas since her death. The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Jo Eggleton from Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors and barrister Tim Baldwin of Garden Court Chambers.

Further background to Natalie's death can be found on the Deighton Pierce Glynn website.