A GRIEVING mother is demanding to know why her daughter was left to die on a mattress on the floor of a “prison-like” seclusion room at the city’s Campbell Centre.
The body of 45-year-old Helen Wills was found on a thin mattress in a small room containing nothing else but an open lavatory attached to the wall.
Today, as an inquest begins to unravel the facts behind Helen’s death, her former mental health worker mum Anne Jenkins has employed a barrister to question whether the Campbell Centre was guilty of neglect.
The Coroner is due to hear how Helen, who suffered from schizophrenia, had been admitted to the Eaglestone-based unit on May 8, 2012, after a deterioration in her mental health.
Two weeks later, in the early hours of the morning, she became so unsettled that staff gave her sedation medication and put her in the seclusion room under constant observation.
When she fell asleep just before 4am, the observation was reduced to 15 minute checks, says Anne. Shortly before 7am, Helen was found lying on her back, not breathing and with no pulse.Though efforts were made to resuscitate her, she was declared dead on arrival at Milton Keynes hospital.
A post mortem found no medical reason for the death and Anne is convinced her daughter’s life could have been saved had she not been left alone in the room during those crucial moments.
“I want to find out the truth about what happened and, more than anything, I want to make sure it does not happen to anybody in any other in places such as the Campbell Centre,” she said.
Poignantly Anne, now retired, worked most of her life as a rehabilitation officer for the mental health team in Milton Keynes.
“Helen was diagnosed with her mental illness when she was just 17. I wanted to do something to help her and the thousands of other people like her,” she said.
“My daughter was a wonderful lady. She was loyal, caring and extremely kind. Most of the time her illness was controlled by her medication and she was able to lead a happy, normal life.
“She lived in her own flat at New Bradwell, she could travel wherever she wanted and she had coped extremely well. Before this it had been 14 years since she had needed to be admitted to a mental health unit for help.”
Anne and her husband David plan to question the medication Helen was given before her death.
“Whatever it was, it did not seem to be working. My daughter was distressed, tormented and exhausted when she died. Yet she was in a place we trusted to give her the best possible care.
“It is a tragedy that should never have happened.”