A BOARD member of Dorset Healthcare Trust says “lessons have been learned” over the suicide death of a mum-of-three at St Ann’s psychiatric hospital.

Dr Andrew Mayers, academic psychologist at Bournemouth University, patron for Dorset Mind and healthcare trust board member, spoke to the Echo following the inquest into the death of 36-year-old Thippawan Donnelly.

Earlier this week Dorset Coroner Rachael Griffin, after recording a verdict of suicide in the case, said she had “great concerns” over the circumstances leading to the death of Ms Donnelly.

In July 2016, Ms Donnelly, while a voluntary patient at St Ann’s, was discovered unresponsive in a locked hospital ward toilet with a plastic laundry bag tied over her head. She died three days later.

During the inquest evidence was heard that Ms Donnelly had tried on several times to end her life in weeks leading up to the tragedy. On two of those occasions, which were known to mental health workers, she had placed a plastic bag over her head.

Dr Mayers said: “As parton for Dorset Mind I’m certainly very concerned that people with mental health conditions within our community get the very best treatment and understanding to ensure their lives are protected. However, we all recognise that occasionally thing don’t go as we might have planned, and certainly reflecting on what Dorset Healthcare has done in response to this incident, and in response to the coroner, I’m certainly confident that lessons have been learned and things will be put in place for the future.”

“It also has to be said that as a governor for Dorset Healthcare I will watch this very carefully and will use my role as governor to report back to the board if I feel there are other areas of concern that need to be developed.”

Meanwhile, Dorset Healthcare nursing, therapies and quality director Fiona Haughey said: “Dorset HealthCare wishes to express its condolences to those who were close to Ms Donnelly at this difficult time. We participated fully in the investigation surrounding her death, as well as the coroner’s inquiry.”

Ms Haughey explained the trust requested an independent investigation into Ms Donnelly’s death prior to the inquest and had already implemented a number of changes as a result.

She added: “These include the removal of all plastic bags from acute inpatient wards and in areas where patients have unsupervised access. We have also improved communication to ensure risks can be more effectively actioned when patients move between wards.

“Dorset HealthCare is committed to learning from serious incidents and will consider the coroner’s findings carefully in order to determine whether any additional changes to practices are required.”