A young mum from Morecambe tragically took her own life after experiencing a traumatic event the year before.
Paula Halliday hadn’t seen her two young girls since the incident in October 2021 and on a number of occasions had taken overdoses and said she wanted to kill herself. The 33-year-old, who was born in High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire where her family de ella still live, was being seen by mental health services but a number of ‘failings’ meant her care de ella was n’t as it should have been.
An inquest at Preston Coroner’s Court on Thursday (April 28) heard that Paula, an auxiliary nurse who worked for the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, had started seeing Amy Cooper in September 2021.
“I rang the crisis team once when she was texting me at night because she was just besides herself and I didn’t know what to do,” Miss Cooper said. “She was drinking a lot, every day. In October 2021 something happened in London and she was quite traumatized by it.
“She was seeing someone from the mental health team every week and they would ring her every other day to check in on her but she felt let down by them and said they weren’t listening to her. She was always seeing someone different so she kept having to go over what happened every time and she found that really distressing.”
Samantha Ferguson, a matron at Lancashire Care which is part of Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust which provides mental health services, admitted there had been several failings in Paula’s care. The inquest heard that the team had been unwilling to start any psychiatric treatment or medication until Paula managed to reduce her alcohol intake from her.
“Handovers weren’t always fully completed and risks weren’t always discussed,” the matron said. “It was sporadic. Some people had to look through the notes of her to familiarize themselves with her. She saw a number of different people at her face-to-face appointments which is n’t ideal.
“What we would have liked to have been better was not necessarily more face-to-face appointments but better documented telephone calls and the ability to escalate a higher evidence of risk. And more face-to-face contact would have been expected given the high level of risk.”
The inquest, which was attended by a large number of Paula’s friends and relatives, heard that a number of changes have been brought in at the trust including plans to increase staffing and issuing stricter guidance when handing over patients during morning meetings. Staff have also been trained on the importance of clinical curiosity, documenting clinical history and risk assessments.
Claire Gibson, a consultant nurse at LSCFT, apologized to Paula’s family for the failings in her care. She added: “I want to apologize because there were some failings and I am really sorry.”
On the morning of January 13 this year Miss Cooper had driven to Paula’s house to pick her up and take her to work. Although Paula had n’t replied to any of her texts from her this was ‘normal’ given how heavily Paula had been drinking.
You don’t have to suffer in silence if you’re struggling with your mental health.
Here are some groups you can contact:
Samaritans: Phone 116 123, 24 hours a day, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, in confidence.
Childline: Phone 0800 1111. Calls are free and won’t show up on your bill.
PAPYRUS: A voluntary organization supporting suicidal teens and young adults. Phone 0800 068 4141.
Depression Alliance: A charity for people with depression. No helpline, but it offers useful resources and links to other information.
Students Against Depression: A website for students who are depressed, have a low mood, or are suicidal. Click here to visit.
BullyingUK: A website for both children and adults affected by bullying. click here.
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM): For young men who are feeling unhappy. There is a helpline: 0800 58 58 58 or visit the website.
Amy then went inside the house in Morecambe where she found Paula dead. She had left a number of notes including one which she simply said: “It’s my time.”
Returning a conclusion of suicide Area Coroner Richard Taylor said he was satisfied that Paula had done a deliberate act with the intention of ending her life. “Of course she was high risk and her frustrations about not getting the treatment she wanted are understandable,” he added.
“In the notes she left she wasn’t rambling. It was thought out and considered. The fact that so many people are here today goes to show how much she is missed and loved.”
A page on GoFundMe set up after Paula’s death raised £730 in her name for the NSPCC. Friends posted their tributes to her in the comments with one describing her as a ‘very special person’ while another said she was a ‘beautiful lady’.