Friday 8 October 2010

The Results Of The Investigation, However, Certainly Were…

The actions of a paranoid schizophrenic from Littlehampton who stabbed a stranger to death were "neither predictable nor preventable", an investigation concluded today.
Well, blow me down with a feather!
Father-of-three Daniel Quelch, 34, suffered 82 knife wounds during the frenzied attack in front of two of his children which began as he slept at his parents' bungalow in August 2007.

Benjamin Frankum was arrested at the scene, telling police he had been sent by MI5 to kill Mr Quelch, but he was ruled unfit to stand trial for murder.
A totally unexpected sudden event?
Frankum, who had been in and out of hospital with mental illness since 2001, was ordered to be detained in Broadmoor Hospital, where he remains.
Ah. As expected, then.
NHS South East Coast commissioned a report by Verita into the care and treatment of Frankum - named only in the report as Mr X - by the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

At the time of Mr Quelch's death, Frankum was living in a shared house in Littlehampton, supported by a housing association after moving out of a residential home in May 2007 where he had been cared for since leaving hospital in the summer of 2006.

Frankum was diagnosed with "treatment resistant" schizophrenia but over the years doctors had identified a combination of medications which helped control some of his symptoms.
Were there no warning signs, then?

Indeed, there were…
During the summer of 2007, Frankum's family, the housing association and care services were "increasingly concerned" about his behaviour, according to the report.

But professional teams decided the situation did not justify sectioning him.
Well, I bet none of them lived anywhere near the unit, so it’s not like they were at risk when something went wrong.
The investigators said that although they identified a "number of failings and weaknesses in the actions of the statutory services during 2007" they could find "no link" between those and Frankum's actions on August 23, 2007.

"For the reasons that we set out in detail in the report we consider that the homicide was neither predictable nor preventable," it concluded.

"We conclude that there was no reason for the professionals to predict that Mr X was a risk to others.

"We consider that nothing professionals should have done would have prevented the homicide."
In which case, why are we employing these ‘professionals’? Because we seem to be paying Ferrari prices, yet getting a rickety old deathtrap Ford service…

And how is it that a woman who might be putting merely her own health at risk is treated like a wild animal , to be sedated and restrained for unwanted treatment, yet a cannabis-addicted loon (at least, according to the 'Mail' ) is cleared to roam the community despite known problems with his dosages?
It stated that the failure to carry out a formal risk assessment when Frankum moved into the housing association property - which did not have staff based on-site - was "poor practice" but said it accepted the move was the "right move at the time".
Ah, the ‘risk assessment’. Employed speedily on trivial matters by local councils, totally left out of the equation by psychiatrists when dealing with potentially-violent patients…
Following the publication, Mr Quelch's parents Ernie, 66, and Barbara, 62, - joined by elder son Robert Quelch, 42 - described how their son's death had devastated their lives and said they believed the inquiry was a "missed opportunity" to prevent further loss of life by mentally ill people.

"We believe this is a deeply flawed inquiry," Mrs Quelch said. "It does not meet best practice, it did not talk to all the possible witnesses, it is in part inaccurate, and some of the findings are clearly not substantiated by the available evidence.

"But we are determined as a family to do everything we can to ensure that, as far as possible, no other family has to go through what our family has had suffer and endure."
Good luck. You’ll need it.

Personally, I don't think anything will change until each potentially-dangerous mental patient cleared to roam free is provided with the name and home address of the chap or lass agreeing to their release and told that, in case of psychotic breakdown, they should take it up with them...


Indyanhat said...

marvellous summative point there, seconded!

Jim said...

A good female friend of mine's ex boyfriend is pretty much the mirror image of this Frankum guy. Manic depressive, which schizoid tendancies. Smokes loads of dope too. Not too bad when he's on the medication, but a right loon when he stops taking it. In my time of knowing him (10+ years) he's been in and out of mental institutions loads of times.

Every time it the same - he stops taking his meds and slowly gets more and more nuts. Thinks the world is ending, and only he can save us all. King Arthur is often involved. Hears voices and sees people. All the people who are close to him (my friend (his ex GF) and his sister) pick up straight away and tell his CPN. Who says 'We can't do anything to section him again until he goes completely nuts, because he's clever enough to fool an independent psychiatrist in the early stages of the psychosis.'

So everyone has to wait til he goes off the deep end and does something (potentially fatal), gets arrested, and then he's sectioned. Stays in for whatever time (sometimes years), they medicate him, stabilise him and eventually shove him back out into the 'community'. Where he gets back into bad ways (drugs/alcohol), stops taking the meds again, and the cycle repeats.

The entire Mental Health system is run for the benefit of the people running it, not the mentally ill. If they can palm some poor unfortunate off onto someone else's patch, they will.

The only good thing I can see is that the law has recently changed, and anyone sectioned now can be much more simply re-sectioned if they refuse to take their meds. This law only came in earlier this year, so HOPEFULLY cases like this one will be less likely in the future.

MTG said...

Our government has wrestled with three alternate solutions to the problem of criminals and psychos. The current choice is between ending many miserable lives humanely or housing these groups well away from decent politicians, bankers, lawyers and public servants.

Locking them up at an unjustifiable expense was always a non-starter.

JuliaM said...

"marvellous summative point there"

It would really be nice to think they'd take the same risks as they expect everyone else to take, wouldn't it?

"So everyone has to wait til he goes off the deep end and does something (potentially fatal), gets arrested, and then he's sectioned."

*sigh* It's a never ending merry-go-round. Some of the mental health blogs have had equally hair-raising stories. I don't know how they stay sane themselves!

"The only good thing I can see is that the law has recently changed, and anyone sectioned now can be much more simply re-sectioned if they refuse to take their meds. This law only came in earlier this year, so HOPEFULLY cases like this one will be less likely in the future."

I'd hope so, but I can't help but think it'll be used against other targets first!

Anonymous said...

I'm with Melvin on this one. Admitting this will no doubt get me re-housed soon, well away from ...
I suspect not much has changed over the years and remember even people trying to get themselves sectioned being turned away to kill or commit suicide 30 years ago.
The rhetoric of 'not our fault gov' Julai exposes here adds insult to injury.