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Despite ‘unacceptable’ care, mental health trust could not have prevented Clayhall man killing himself, says coroner

PUBLISHED: 11:24 18 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:28 18 January 2017

Goodmayes Hospital, where Nelft are based.

Goodmayes Hospital, where Nelft are based.

Archant

Despite “unacceptable” care by Redbridge’s mental health services for a 24-year-old who killed himself, a coroner has ruled the trust could not have prevented his death.

Arya Mahdavi, of Fullwell Avenue, Clayhall, went through “six years of hell” battling voices in his head before killing himself in May, Walthamstow Coroner’s Court heard on Tuesday.

Since 2010, psychiatrists at the North East London Foundation Trust (Nelft) were unable to diagnose any specific mental illness.

Instead doctors used the umbrella term psychosis, and prescribed Mr Mahdavi a number of different antidepressants and other drugs.

Expert witness Dr Margot told the court Mr Mahdavi was suffering with undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenia – however he and his family were never informed this in the weeks before he died.

Mr Mahdavi came to believe that he was receiving secret messages through his family’s television, and that his parents had been replaced by an “evil organisation” that was attempting to control his reality.

The former Caterham High School student was not visited by Nelft staff for a 45 day period in the months before he killed himself.

When coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe questioned this, it was revealed no hand-over had been organised when Mr Mahdavi’s primary care co-ordinator had taken a four week holiday.

Dr Radcliffe said this was an “unacceptable situation”, but recognised “paranoid schizophrenia being so impulsive and unpredictable it is hard to suggest the trust did anything wrong”.

Mr Mahdavi’s cousin criticised Nelft’s approach, and said “he had basically given up with the NHS”.

“He wasn’t expressing his true feelings to the care team, he was just telling them what he thought they wanted to hear,” she told the court.

The coroner also criticised Nelft staff for being too focused on ticking boxes and not putting the patient’s needs first.

Further complicating matters was Mr Mahdavi’s alcohol and substance abuse, which saw him take cannabis and drink half a bottle of whisky daily.

Dr Peter Carver, consultant psychiatrist on Redbridge’s early intervention psychosis team, said: “Periodically it felt like we were making progress.

“He had at one point found a job and his family life was improving, but again, periodically, there would be alcohol and drug issues that would lead him to relapse.

“His mind was willing, but he couldn’t follow through with it.”

Delivering her conclusion, Dr Radcliffe branded paranoid schizophrenia “a truly ghastly condition”, and said she could not rule Mr Mahdavi’s death a suicide as his fragile mental state meant she could not be sure he had intended to kill himself.

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