‘My father would be alive if sufficient staff were on duty’

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Brian Harold Blampied, who was described by his family as a lovely, kind, married man, had been placed under level two observation having been admitted with anxiety and depression.

Addressing an inquest into his father’s death, Paul Blampied said: ‘I genuinely believe if there were sufficient staff on duty my father would still be alive today.’

He paid tribute to the ‘lovely staff’ on the ward, saying: ‘I believe the staff there did everything they could. There was simply not enough of them.’

A review of staffing levels and an independent investigation into the hospital’s safety measures has since been carried out.

Mr Blampied was a retired electrician and keen sailor, having served in the Royal Navy and lived through the Occupation as a child.

He died at the age of 87 in November 2018, while an in-patient on Cedar Ward. He was admitted to the ward in July of that year.

His behaviour was described as ‘compulsive’ and he could be unpredictable.

The inquest heard he was moved to a different room in the ward following family concerns for his welfare and placed under observation, with staff checking him every 15 minutes. He was discovered in his room by a member of staff on the afternoon of 9 November.

When asked by Deputy Viscount Advocate Mark Harris if there were enough staff on the ward at the time of Mr Blampied’s death, a healthcare assistant on duty when the incident occurred replied: ‘No.’

A letter read out from consultant psychiatrist Dr Glyn Thomas said that a balance needed to be struck between a loss of dignity in removing personal items and carrying out checks, which some patients may see as an ‘act of humiliation’, and the risk to a patient’s own life.

An independent investigation was launched after the death, which stated that staff checked on Mr Blampied every 15 minutes and this potentially could have allowed him to time when he was next going to be checked.

The review also found that level two observation should have entailed checks every five to 20 minutes, with observations better documented.

There was also no ligature risk assessment carried out on the room Mr Blampied was moved into, with the report recommending training in ligature policy and more frequent risk assessments.

Mr Blampied’s death on the ward also sparked a review of staffing levels. Jersey’s mental health lead nurse Rachel Ryder, who was not in position when the incident occurred, told the inquest that ‘staff ratios are very different now’.

Jersey’s associate medical director for mental health, Dr Miguel Garcia Alcaraz, said there was now a live and ‘very dynamic’ programme to see what was happening in the wards.

Individual risk assessments had also been increased.

He said the service had ‘been in the spotlight for some time’ which was beneficial as it had drawn attention and released funds to ‘really speed changes that needed to happen’.

Closing the inquest, Advocate Harris said: ‘It is heartening to hear that something so good had come out of something so tragic.’

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