Internal inquiry criticises Basingstoke hospital over the death of pensioner who fell from a window

Basingstoke Gazette: Basingstoke hospital. Basingstoke hospital.

AN INTERNAL trust inquiry into the death of a pensioner, who fell from a window at Basingstoke hospital, found the care he received was below the standard expected, a lawyer has said.

76-year-old Bob Thompstone died when he fell from a window and landed on the canteen roof on Monday, December 3, 2012.

The grandfather-of-six had been admitted to the hospital, in Aldermaston Road, on Friday, November 30, having taken a drugs overdose.

On the night of Sunday, December 2, he went missing twice from a general ward, only to be brought back, before going missing for a third and final time. His body was spotted on top of the canteen roof nearly three hours later.

Last Thursday, at the conclusion of the two-day inquest, Andrew Bradley, coroner for North East Hampshire, recorded a narrative verdict.

Mr Bradley said there was not enough evidence to support a suicide verdict. He added: “One would say that perhaps the supervision (of Mr Thompstone) was questionable, and that the degree of supervision and observation was questionable. But that has not caused his death.”

After the inquest, Mr Thompstone’s family released a statement through their legal team at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, which said they have seen the findings of a report by Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The statement said an internal inquiry found there were areas where “the care provided to Mr Thompstone was not of the standard the trust would wish to give, or that he was entitled to expect”.

It added that improvements had been made, including completing mental health and psychiatric referral forms throughout a patient’s stay at hospital, and increasing audits on the maintenance of windows.

Elizabeth Marchant, medical law expert from Irwin Mitchell, said: “This is a tragic case that has left a family devastated by the loss of a loving husband, father and grandfather.

“Events such as these should not happen under any circumstances, and whilst we appreciate the Trust taking action and confirming lessons have been learned, we expect these lessons to have been shared transparently throughout the NHS.

“This approach is the only way to protect the safety of patients and prevent the same tragedy from happening again.”

The family also thanked the coroner for investigating the circumstances surrounding Mr Thompstone’s death.

In a statement, Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said it carried out an investigation as it would do after any serious incident.

The trust added: “Some changes were implemented, including increased audits of windows and raising awareness of the needs of patients with mental health issues.

“As the coroner noted, these were not seen as causative. Improving patient care is our top priority and we are always seeking ways to improve.

“We would again like to offer our sincere condolences to Mr Thompstone’s family.”

The inquest had heard that Mr Thompstone, a former Press Association journalist and RAC press officer, had seen his GP after suffering 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 in a car on November 30 near his home in Selborne, near Alton.

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