Family hopes for lessons to be learnt from Basingstoke hospital fall death

Basingstoke Gazette: Family hopes for lessons to be learnt from Basingstoke hospital fall death Family hopes for lessons to be learnt from Basingstoke hospital fall death

THE family of a man who fell to his death from a window at Basingstoke hospital hope lessons will be learnt from his death.

As reported in The Gazette, Robert Thompstone, 76, died when he fell from a window at the hospital on to the canteen roof on the morning of Monday, December 3, 2012.

A chair was later found next to an open window on the stairwell landing near the E1 ward where Mr Thompstone was staying.

Andrew Bradley, coroner for North East Hampshire, recorded a narrative verdict today and said there was not enough evidence to support a suicide verdict.

After the inquest, Elizabeth Marchant, a medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell, which represented the Thompstone family, said: “The family would like to thank the coroner for his work and the information that has come out has been helpful in understanding how this all came about.

“Hopefully lessons will be learnt from what we brought to light over the last couple of days.”

The grandfather-of-six, from Selborne, had been admitted to the hospital, in Aldermaston Road, on Friday, November 30, 2012 after he took a drugs overdose and was found slumped over the steering wheel of a car parked in a country lane near Alton.

He was then transferred from intensive care to a general medical ward on Sunday evening.

The inquest at Alton Magistrates’ Court, heard that he went missing from the ward twice during the night, only to be brought back, before going missing a third time on Monday morning. Staff then saw Mr Thompstone’s body on the canteen roof.

Mr Bradley said he was concerned that Mr Thompstone managed to go missing from the general medical ward more than once.

But he said: “One would say that perhaps the supervision was questionable and that the degree of supervision and observation was questionable. But that has not caused his death.”

He also said it was clear that Mr Thompstone was in a confused state at the time of his death.

Earlier in today’s proceedings, Loretta Nyah, a nurse in the E1 ward, said she first knew Mr Thompstone was missing when she attended a change-of-shift meeting at work at 7.30am on Monday morning. By that stage, Mr Thompstone had been missing for an hour.

She said she would have expected to be told in that meeting that Mr Thompstone had absconded twice that night and had mental health issues, but she said she was not.

The court also heard that Mr Thompstone, a former Press Association journalist and RAC press officer, had seen his GP for anxiety in the year before his death.

He had been prescribed anti-depressants, which Mr Bradley said he managed to store up before taking the overdose on Friday, November 30.

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which manages Basingstoke hospital, issued a statement following the inquest.

It read: “Mr Thompstone’s death is very sad and we would like to offer our sincere condolences to his family and friends.

“We are mindful of the Coroner’s observations and we always want to learn and improve because patient care is our highest priority.”

The trust declined to comment further to The Gazette if any changes had been made to procedure at the hospital following Mr Thompstone’s death.

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