A board of health that 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 the Lanarkshire Board of Health failed to deal with Lynette Giblen, 35, who lost her life at her mother’s home in Glasgow on October 10, 2016.
The Court of Session heard how Mrs Giblen, whom Lord Arthurson described as a “beautiful singer, a gifted photographer” and “a loving mother”, had suffered from serious mental illness.
The court heard that throughout 2016, Ms Giblen had various 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 on 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 mother, Violet Paterson, 78, in Glasgow. It was the fourth time she had been discharged from the hospital that year.
However, the doctors allowed him to leave the hospital and his family believed that they did not provide him with adequate care immediately after his discharge.
Witnesses reported seeing Ms. Giblen displaying mental health problems and having “delusional beliefs” in the last weeks of her life.
Her belief that doctors had failed Ms. Giblen led Mrs. Paterson, her son Ross, her daughter Janet, and Ms. Giblen’s two children, Alissa, 20, and Kristofer, 22, to take legal action.
Lawyers for the family told Lord Arthurson the board of health was negligent and did not do enough to ensure their safety after their release from Hairmyres.
Her beliefs were endorsed by a London-based consultant psychiatrist named Dr. Charles Musters, who believed that Ms. Giblen’s condition was such that she required “considerable support” after her discharge from hospital. He believed that the physicians in charge of Ms. Giblen’s care failed to provide the necessary measures to provide her with 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 provided to Ms Giblen in the weeks following her discharge from hospital as “not good enough”, Lord Arthurson also described the circumstances surrounding her death as “truly tragic”.
He wrote: “The encapsulated criticism in the case of the persecutors focused… on the interim period after discharge during which adequate care and treatment was not provided to the deceased and, furthermore, that failure carried the foreseeable risk of a devastating disaster.” episode of self-harm, attempted suicide, or even suicide.
“For the above reasons, I accept these propositions advanced in this case, supported as they were by Dr. Musters’ compelling evidence against the full background of conducted factual and clinical evidence.
“Based on that substantial body of evidence, I am content to maintain that there was a significant deterioration in the decedent’s condition with obvious signs of delusional beliefs.
“Had her improvement been maintained by appropriate post-discharge follow-up and care, the decedent’s deterioration and consequent completed suicide could and would have been prevented.”
The sentence speaks to how Ms Giblen had struggled with her mental health since childhood and had repeatedly tried to take her own life.
The judgment also recounts how Dr Musters told the court that people with Ms Giblen’s condition should have considerable support when 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 he did not believe this level of support was in place when Ms Giblen was discharged from the hospital. She considered that the care package that she was given upon her release on September 16 was insufficient, the sentence speaks to how she was expected to wait 24 days before she began to implement her care plan.
Describing Dr Muster’s evidence, Lord Arthurson wrote: “The discharge on 16 September 2016 had been the deceased’s fourth discharge from hospital since June 2016.
“The deceased had left the hospital without knowing when a member of the team would see her.
“The date of her future appointment with Dr. Vusikala (consulting psychiatrist), her appointment with the NPC, and even the name of that NPC, were all unknown to her.
“She had been left wondering when they would see her again, and this was important for someone with EUPD, which was essentially attachment disorder.
“The care package selected at the time of discharge on September 16, 2016, in Dr. Musters’ opinion, would not have provided the intensive care required by the decedent.
“The 24-day period that he was expected to wait, and of course remain stable, before any aspect of his care plan was implemented, did not match the timeframes in which his own mental health had fluctuated in the period former. .”
At sentencing Lord Arthurson awarded Mrs Paterson £100,000. He told how he had discovered her daughter and tried to resuscitate her. He then collapsed in the ambulance that took Mrs. Giblen to the hospital.
He wrote: “The pain, anguish and pain of the first persecutor manifested itself in an extreme physical way, and I note in passing that during her testimony, the anguish exhibited by her, even from a remote location via the link of Webex, it was pretty tangible.
“In these circumstances, I award damages… in respect of the first persecutor in the sum of £100,000.”
Mrs Paterson’s children received £5,000 each, while Mrs Giblen’s children received £70,000 each.
Lord Arthuson also paid tribute to Mrs. Giblen. He added: “She was a beautiful singer, a talented photographer, a loving mother and a very affectionate and obedient daughter to her beloved mother, the first persecutor.”