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Lawsuit launched in psychiatric unit death

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 22, 2014

Elaine Jobe was found unconscious at Barnstaple’s Ocean View

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A grieving partner has called for a major review of mental health services in the region after his girlfriend killed herself while receiving treatment in a Devon psychiatric unit.

Elaine Jobe was discovered hanging in a bathroom at Barnstaple’s Ocean View facility in Febraury 2011, after spending more than two weeks as an inpatient at the hospital.

Her boyfriend Simon Banks claims staff at the facility failed to take simple steps to prevent her taking her own life and has launched legal action against Devon Partnership NHS Trust in a bid to bring about changes to the way similar cases are handled in future.

Ms Jobe, who had struggled with mental illness at several stages throughout her life, was admitted to the Ocean View unit in January 2011 following an attempted overdose. In the following days her mental health failed to improve and friends and relatives became concerned when, during a trip home, three days before she died, she repeatedly spoke of her wish to take her own life.

Mr Banks shared these concerns with the hospital but said that it did not appear to do anything in response.

Staff found Ms Jobe unconscious in her en suite bathroom on the morning of February 2, 2011. She was taken to an intensive care unit at North Devon General Hospital where she died two days later.

“The warning signs could not have been clearer. Elaine was desperately suicidal. I raised my concerns repeatedly with staff at Ocean View but I don’t think they understood just how serious things were,” said Mr Banks.

“She was a wonderful person and I feel that her suicide was preventable, I would hate for another family to go through what we have.

”Law Firm Slater and Gordon announced they are assisting Mr Banks to launch legal action against the Devon Partnership Trust, alleging nine breaches of duty.

These include failures to reasses Ms Jobe’s suicide risk, to implement a suitable observation regime and to carry out regular room searches for items that were likely to be used to cause self-harm.

Mr Banks’ lawyer Paul Sankey, said it was a “tragic” case. “Mrs Jobe was clearly a vulnerable and suicidal patient who was a high risk to herself. Her loved ones had reluctantly convinced her to stay in Ocean View because they thought it would be the safest place for her to receive treatment,” he said.

“But it seems that the very apparent warning signs were missed or ignored by staff; they failed in their primary duty to keep Mrs Jobe safe.”

A spokesman for Devon Partnership NHS Trust said: “Events of this kind are extremely rare and it has, of course, been thoroughly investigated and we have made changes. Elaine’s death has had a profound impact on the team who worked with her.”

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