A SENIOR consultant accepted that the removal of plastic linen bags from hospital wards could have prevented the incident which saw a patient suffocate to death, an inquest heard.

Dr Anthony Purcell delivered the admission while providing evidence for the hearing into the death of St Ann’s Hospital patient Thippawan Donnelly.

However, he went on to say in his opinion Ms Donnelly would have found another means to take her life.

The 36-year-old had voluntarily placed herself in the care of the Poole mental health hospital.

Dorset Coroner Rachael Griffin heard that Ms Donnelly had made several attempts to take her own life, including overdosing on tablets, attempting to strangle herself, walking into the sea and using a bag to suffocate herself.

Ms Donnelly, who was from Thailand, was found unconscious by a mental health support worker in a toilet on Chine Ward with a plastic linen bag tied tightly over her head on the evening of July 14.

Staff discovered the mother of three with a photograph of her infant son. After the incident she was taken to Poole Hospital and died in the intensive care unit three days later.

The inquest heard that since Ms Donnelly’s death an external review was carried out and changes had been implemented.

Ms Griffin asked Dr Purcell why staff had not removed items after Ms Donnelly had self-harmed and attempted to take her life.

The consultant on the Seaview Ward, who was the doctor responsible for Ms Donnelly’s care from June 7 until July 4, said taking personal items away from patients can have a negative impact on the patient-staff relationship.

Ms Griffin went on to specifically question why the bags, which were not personal items, had not been removed.

Dr Purcell said: “If there had not been bags she could not have suffocated herself.

“I absolutely accept that it makes sense to remove things that are easily removed and do not effect patients. That is one of our failings.”

He added that he believed Ms Donnelly had used a range of items to self harm throughout her time at the hospital and would have found “another means” to take her life.

Mental health support staff who were working on Chine Ward at the time of Ms Donnelly’s death said they remember her as a very sociable and proactive person.

A member of the psychiatric liaison team at Poole Hospital provided evidence on contact with Ms Donnelly during her time at the hospital between May and July.

The hearing heard during a period at Poole Hospital weeks before her death Ms Donnelly had attempted to suffocate herself using her bag.

After returning to St Ann’s on July details of this incident had been sent onto staff, however no specific actions were taken.

Mrs Griffin read a pathologists’ report that said the cause of death was hypoxic brain injury brought about by “plastic bag asphyxia”.

The Daily Echo approached Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust to comment but say they were unable to do so as the inquest is ongoing. The hearing is due to conclude today.