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Tragic teen's parents criticise care at Norfolk mental health hospital

PUBLISHED: 14:51 18 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:39 18 November 2019

Mia Titheridge was found unresponsive at Huntercombe Hospital at Buxton, an inquest heard       PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Mia Titheridge was found unresponsive at Huntercombe Hospital at Buxton, an inquest heard PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

The parents of a 17-year-old who died while at a Norfolk mental health hospital have hit out at her care - and the decision to send her "hundreds of miles" from home.

The Huntercombe Hospital - Norwich.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYThe Huntercombe Hospital - Norwich. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Mia Titheridge lived in Yorkshire, but was at Huntercombe Hospital at Buxton when she died, an inquest heard on Monday.

At the hearing at Norfolk Coroners' Court, statements from Julian and Victoria Titheridge, Mia's parents, were read out.

Mrs Titheridge said: "When you suffer from mental health conditions like Mia did, it was clear that sending her hundreds of miles away from her family and her surroundings was going to affect her."

Mia was found unresponsive in her room at the former Huntercombe Hospital in Buxton near Aylsham on March 19, 2017.

The teenager was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital but died later that day.

Coroner Jacqueline Lake said the medical cause of death was hanging.

Mrs Lake said, on the first day of a nine-day inquest, issues to be looked at would include the level of observation Mia was under at Huntercombe, her intent to self-harm and state of mind, and any intentions she may have expressed about taking her own life.

The inquest heard how Mr and Mrs Titheridge divorced when Mia was an infant, and she lived with her mother, and later with her father.

Mia struggled with her mental health for years, and had self harmed on a number of occasions.

Just before she was taken into care - first at a hospital in Sheffield and then at Huntercombe - Mia had been living with her father and his wife.

Mr Titheridge said he was "disappointed" he had not been consulted about Mia being transferred to Huntercombe.

Mrs Titheridge said that when she had asked Huntercombe staff how Mia was, "they didn't really know".

She said: "Mia told me that there was no structure to her day. She also told me that there was no consistency with staff, and she was left to do whatever she wanted, including self-harming.

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"I feel there was no direction or support generally from Huntercombe to families for patients in their care. I was mostly left in the dark."

Mrs Titheridge said that while "nothing can be done to bring Mia back," she and her family wanted changed to be made so that places like Huntercombe could better care for their patients.

The Huntercombe Hospital in Buxton closed down in December 2017 but the Huntercombe Group still runs hospitals in the UK.

Pauline Goffin, the Huntercombe's manager when Mia died, said she would have expected families of patients to have been kept "very much" up-to-date about their welfare.

When questioned about potentially dangerous items the patients has access to, she said: "It was a really tricky balancing act between making sure the young people were safe and reintroducing items they would have access to when they were back in the community."

Commenting on the first day of the inquest, a spokeswoman for the Huntercombe Group said: "First and foremost, our hearts go out to the friends and relatives of Mia Titheridge

following her tragic death in March 2017.

"The purpose of an inquest is to enable a coroner to fully understand the circumstances around a patient's death. At the time Huntercombe Hospital Norwich cared for some of the

most severely mentally ill young people in the country.

"All of our hospitals currently delivering care and treatment for children and young people with mental health illnesses are acknowledged to provide a 'Good' quality of care.

Furthermore, we are proud of the staff working in these services, who care for these patients with dedication and compassion in what can often be very challenging conditions."

The inquest continues.

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