Gorleston woman who jumped off multi-storey car park roof ‘should never have been allowed’ to go on unescorted leave from mental health unit, inquest hears

Donna Carrigan jumped to her death from the top of a multi-storey car park in Great Yarmouth. Photo: Supplied Donna Carrigan jumped to her death from the top of a multi-storey car park in Great Yarmouth. Photo: Supplied

Thursday, July 3, 2014
3:14 PM

A mental health patient told doctors that she could hear voices telling her to harm herself the day before she jumped from a multi-storey car park roof after being allowed out of a secure hospital on unescorted lead, an inquest heard.

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Donna Carrigan, who had a history of mental health issues and previous suicide attempts, was an inpatient at Northgate Hospital in Great Yarmouth when she was allowed to leave without a member of staff or family member accompanying her on the morning of August 10, 2012.

Less than an hour after leaving the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust-run facility, the 47-year-old jumped from the top floor of the Market Gates car park in the town.

A senior psychologist today told her inquest in Norwich that the patient, who had a diagnosis of emotionally unstable personality disorder, should never have been allowed to leave the mental health unit on her own.

Mrs Carrigan, of St Hilda’s Crescent, Gorleston, agreed to be voluntarily admitted to Hellesdon Hospital on July 26 2012 and was transferred to Northgate Hospital four days later.

Nittu Jones, senior practitioner for the mental health trust, said there was a formal medication review of the patient on August 9 - a day before her death.

“Donna was calm and she was saying she would like to be discharged. She was saying she had voices to harm herself. She tried to ignore the voice, but she could not sometimes,” he said.

The inquest also heard that Mrs Carrigan was allowed to leave the hospital on August 6 when she went to a local shop with a patient and returned 30 minutes later.

Larry Ayuba, consultant psychologist at Northgate Hospital and clinical lead for Great Yarmouth and Waveney, said he had “significant rapport” with Mrs Carrigan who he first met seven years ago.

He said the patient had become an informal patient at the secure unit after expressing her fears that she felt “trapped” about being sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Dr Ayuba said he was greeted by Mrs Carrigan as he walked through the ward at 8.45am on August 10, who was “smartly dressed.”

During a 9am meeting with staff, he was told that the patient had been allowed to go on unescorted leave.

“I said I would never trust her to go out on her own and that is something that should not have been allowed to happen. It triggered a lot of alarm bells. I sincerely wish this never happened and I never wish this to happen to any patient in the hospital,” he said.

Dr Ayuba told the inquest that Mrs Carrigan should have been detained under the Mental Health Act if she tried to leave Northgate Hospital and it was in her notes that if she wanted to go out, she would be accompanied by some one.

The inquest is set to conclude tomorrow.

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