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Young Psychiatric Patient Who Jumped From Bridge Let Down

Young people are particularly vulnerable to mental health problems and are entitled to expect competent medical care. In the case of a young man who jumped from a bridge whilst on leave from a psychiatric intensive care unit, the required standard of care was sadly not achieved.

Aged in his early 20s at the time, the man's mental health deteriorated whilst he was at university and he was undergoing treatment in the unit after suffering a number of psychotic episodes. Two days after he was granted a week's leave from the unit, he jumped about 80 feet from the bridge. He was left paralysed below the waist and one of his legs had to be amputated below the knee.

A clinical negligence claim was brought on his behalf, alleging that his discharge on leave was inadequately planned and that his medication was not properly managed. The NHS trust that bore responsibility for his care promptly admitted that his treatment had been substandard. It did not, however, accept that he jumped as a result of the failings in his care.

In the event, a trial of that issue was rendered unnecessary after the successful negotiation of a settlement, whereby the trust would pay him 97.5 per cent of the full value of his claim. The High Court praised the cooperative approach taken by both sides and approved the settlement as being in the man's best interests.

The trust also agreed to make a £100,000 interim payment to meet his immediate needs. The full amount of his damages award, which is likely to run into many millions of pounds, will be assessed at a further hearing if not agreed.