Man took his own life same day he went to see medics

Mum’s anger at lack of care

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Edel Ke­nealy

A Cam­bus­lang man was as­sessed twice at a men­tal health cen­tre on the day he took his own life, the Re­former has learned.

Alan Ste­wart, a para­noid schiz­o­phrenic, at­tended East­vale Men­tal Health Re­source Cen­tre in Ruther­glen on two oc­cas­sions on Fri­day, March 18 and was given a lift home by a com­mu­nity psy­chi­atric nurse (CPN).

On the day he died 41-yearold Alan had shown signs of dis­tress at around 1pm and at­tended East­vale Cen­tre. But he fled af­ter lash­ing out at a doc­tor.

His mother, Mar­garet Ste­wart was con­tacted by men­tal health staff and told a bed at Lev­ern­dale had been se­cured for Alan.

Look­ing af­ter her grand­daugh­ter and un­able to ac­com­pany him, Mar­garet con­vinced Alan to go back to East­vale. On his sec­ond visit, at around 3pm, he ap­peared more calm, was pre­scribed di­azepam and al­lowed to leave. A nurse drove him home. He was the last per­son to see Alan alive as less than two hours later he was dead.

De­mand­ing an­swers from the en­quiry, Mar­garet said: “If they took him to Lev­ern­dale, he wouldn’t have been in that state.”

The fam­ily of a man who took his own life hours af­ter he was al­lowed to leave a psy­chi­atric cen­tre say he was “badly let down” by men­tal health ser­vices.

Alan Ste­wart at­tended East­vale Men­tal Health Re­source Cen­tre at Ruther­glen Pri­mary Care Cen­tre twice on March 18 and was given a lift home by a com­mu­nity psy­chi­atric nurse (CPN).

But less than two hours later he com­mit­ted sui­cide at his Cam­bus­lang home.

Di­ag­nosed with para­noid schizophre­nia 18 years ago, Alan be­gan to show signs of dis­tress from around mid­day on March 18.

His mother Mar­garet be­came alarmed when he called her and be­gan rant­ing on the phone. She im­me­di­ately tele­phoned East­vale to say she be­lieved Alan was be­com­ing un­well.

The 41 year old was seen by a men­tal health team leader and con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trist but was so dis­tressed he lashed out, shouted and waved the walk­ing stick he used. Alan was al­lowed to go out­side for a cig­a­rette and left.

Mar­garet was con­tacted by men­tal health staff and told a bed at Lev­ern­dale Hos­pi­tal had been se­cured for Alan, and that he needed to re­turn to Ruther­glen.

Look­ing af­ter her grand­daugh­ter and un­able to ac­com­pany him, Mar­garet con­vinced Alan to go back to East­vale.

On his sec­ond visit at around 3pm he ap­peared more calm, was pre­scribed di­azepam and al­lowed to leave.

Soon af­ter Alan called his mother again to say he was go­ing to end his life and af­ter call­ing the po­lice, she fled to his nearby home. But it was too late. De­mand­ing an­swers from the en­quiry, Mar­garet said Alan’s con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trist – who was not there on the day of his death – had al­ways de­scribed his be­hav­iour as “change­able”.

This was be­cause he could “mask” his symp­toms within hours of hav­ing an up­set­ting episode.

Mar­garet said: “I was al­ways point­ing that out to them be­cause he could go into hos­pi­tal at 4pm and by 5pm they could think, ‘why is he here?” They did know that about him [ mask­ing his symp­toms] be­cause I al­ways made them aware of that.

“They are the pro­fes­sion­als, they should have known.

“If they took him to Lev­ern­dale he wouldn’t have been in that state.”

Ex­plain­ing the Ste­wart fam­ily had lodged a com­plaint with NHS La­nark­shire, Mar­garet added: “I went to East­vale on Mon­day, March 21. I saw the man who had been Alan’s CPN for 13 years and one of his col­leagues. I told them what we thought, that they had failed in their duty of care. The fact he was so up­set and looked like he was go­ing to be vi­o­lent to­wards a doc­tor, the mere fact that hap­pened means he should have been hos­pi­talised or sec­tioned and not al­lowed to leave the build­ing.

“They let him down badly and I, in no un­cer­tain terms, told them that. If they had kept him in there he would be here to­day.

“The one and only time I wasn’t there with him that’s what hap­pened.

“It’s too late for my son but for some­one else’s son or daugh­ter it may help.”

Iain MacKen­zie, ser­vice man­ager for men­tal health and learn­ing dis­abil­ity ser­vices at NHS La­nark­shire, said: “Our thoughts and sym­pa­thies go out to the fam­ily at this dif­fi­cult time.

“NHS La­nark­shire’s men­tal health and learn­ing dis­abil­ity ser­vice is cur­rently con­duct­ing a re­view in line with both Health Im­prove­ment Scot­land guid­ance and the NHS La­nark­shire ad­verse event process.

“As part of the re­view process we will con­tact the pa­tient’s fam­ily to give them the op­por­tu­nity to share their views and raise any ques­tions they have.

It’s too late for my son but for some­one else’s son or daugh­ter it may help Alan’s mum Mar­garet

“A copy of the fi­nal re­port will be pro­vided to the fam­ily.”

Pe op l e ex­pe­ri­enc­ing de­pres­sion are en­cour­aged to seek help.

Breath­ing Space is a free and con­fi­den­tial phone- line ser­vice for any in­di­vid­ual who is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing low mood or de­pres­sion. The num­ber is 0800 83 85 87 and it is open be­tween 6pm and 2am daily and 24 hours week­ends.

Sa­mar­i­tans are avail­able 24 hours a day to pro­vide con­fi­den­tial emo­tional sup­port for peo­ple who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing feel­ings of dis­tress or de­spair. Peo­ple can call on 08457 90 90 90 or email jo@sa­mar­i­tans.org.

Tragic Alan Ste­wart tried to get help twice on the day he took his own life

Twice Alan at­tended East­vale Pri­mary Care Cen­tre in Ruther­glen twice on the day of his death

Trib­utes Flo­ral trib­utes were left for Alan fol­low­ing his death on March 18.

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