A health board which acted negligently in caring for a mentally ill mother-of-two who took her own life has been ordered to pay £250,000 to her family.
Judge Lord Arthurson found that Lanarkshire Health Board failed to look after 35-year-old Lynette Giblen who lost her life at her mother’s house in Glasgow on October 10, 2016.
The Court of Session heard how Ms Giblen – who Lord Arthurson described as being a ‘beautiful singer, a gifted photographer’ and ‘a loving mother’ – had suffered from severe mental illness.
The court heard that throughout 2016, Ms Giblen had several interactions with NHS mental health services.
She had also been diagnosed with a condition called Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder when she was 16 and had spent time in a psychiatric ward at Hairmyres Hospital in Lanarkshire.
The court also heard that she had been discharged from the ward in September 2016 and had gone to live with her mum, Violet Paterson, 78, in Glasgow. It was the fourth time she had been discharged from hospital that year.
However, medics allowed her to leave the hospital and her family believed they failed to provide her with proper care in the immediate time following her release.
Witnesses reported seeing Ms Giblen displaying poor mental health and having “delusional beliefs” in the last few weeks of her life.
Their belief that the doctors had failed Ms Giblen prompted Mrs Paterson, her son Ross, her daughter Janet and Ms Giblen’s two children Alissa, 20, and Kristofer, 22, to launch legal action.
Lawyers for the family told Lord Arthurson that the health board acted negligently and didn’t do enough to ensure her safety following her release from Hairmyres.
Their beliefs were supported by a London based consultant psychiatrist called Dr Charles Musters who believed that Ms Giblen’s condition was such that she needed “considerable support” following her release from hospital. He believed that doctors in charge of Ms Giblen’s care failed to provide measures which gave her sufficient care.
In a written judgment published by the court on Friday, Lord Arthurson upheld the submissions made to him by the family’s legal team.
Describing the care given to Ms Giblen in the weeks following her discharge from hospital as being “not good enough”, Lord Arthurson also described the circumstances surrounding her death as being “truly tragic”
He wrote: “The criticism encapsulated in the pursuers’ case focused… upon the intervening period following discharge during which there had been a failure to provide appropriate care and treatment to the deceased and further that that failure carried with it the foreseeable risk of a devastating episode of self-harm, attempted suicide or indeed suicide.
“For the foregoing reasons I accept these advanced propositions in this case, supported as they were by the compelling evidence of Dr Musters against the whole background of the factual and clinical evidence led.
“On the basis of that substantial body of evidence I am content to hold that there was a significant deterioration in the deceased’s condition with obvious signs of delusional beliefs.
“Had her improvement been maintained by appropriate post-discharge follow-up and care, the deceased’s deterioration and consequent completed suicide could and would on balance have been avoided.”
The judgement tells of how Ms Giblen had struggled with her mental health since her childhood and had repeatedly tried to take her life.
The judgement also tells of how Dr Musters told the court that people with Ms Giblen’s condition should have considerable support upon leaving hospital.
He said that such support – which includes therapy – can help improve people’s ability to cope with life and their condition.
Dr Musters said that he didn’t believe that this level of support was put in place when Ms Giblen was released from hospital. He considered that the care package given to her upon her release on September 16 was insufficient – the judgment tells of how she was expected to wait for 24 days before her care plan would begin to be implemented.
Describing Dr Musters evidence, Lord Arthurson wrote: “The discharge on September 16, 2016 had been the deceased’s fourth discharge from hospital since June 2016.
“The deceased had left hospital not actually knowing when she would be seen by any member of the team.
“The date of her future appointment with Dr Vusikala (Consultant Psychiatrist), her appointment with the CPN, and even the name of that CPN, were all unknown to her.
“She had been left without a sense of when she would be seen again, and this was important for someone with EUPD, which was essentially a disorder of attachment.
“The package of care selected at discharge on September 16, 2016 would not, in Dr Musters’ view, have provided the intensive care required by the deceased.
“The 24 day period that she was expected to wait, and of course remain stable, before any single aspect of her care plan would be implemented, was wildly out of keeping with the timescales over which her own mental health had fluctuated within the preceding period.”
In the judgment, Lord Arthurson awarded Mrs Paterson £100,000. He told of how she had discovered her daughter and had attempted to resuscitate her. She then collapsed in the ambulance that took Ms Giblen to hospital.
He wrote: “The first pursuer’s grief, distress and sorrow manifested itself in an extreme physical way, and I observe in passing that during her evidence the distress exhibited by her, even from a remote location through Webex link, was quite tangible.
“In these circumstances I make an award… in respect of the first pursuer in the sum of £100,000.”
Mrs Paterson’s children were awarded £5,000 each whilst Ms Giblen’s children were awarded £70,000 each.
Lord Arthuson also paid tribute to Ms Giblen. He added: “She was a beautiful singer, a gifted photographer, a loving mother and a most affectionate and dutiful daughter to her beloved mother, the first pursuer.”