Mother of a Sudbury’s Joe Ruler, 19, who killed himself at Wedgwood House is left ‘heartbroken’ that same mistakes still being made by NSFT mental health trust

An image of Joe Ruler, who died at West Suffolk Hospital aged 19, having been admitted with suicidal

An image of Joe Ruler, who died at West Suffolk Hospital aged 19, having been admitted with suicidal tendencies - Credit: Archant

The heartbroken mother of a Sudbury teenager who died in the care of a Suffolk mental health unit has claimed lessons have still not been learnt from her son’s death.

Joe Ruler died five years ago at the Wedgwood House unit, in Bury St Edmunds, with an inquest last year highlighting issues with ligature points, which allow vulnerable patients to hang themselves.

Last week a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report into the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, who run the unit, found similar issues still existed at other sites.

Last night, the trust stressed that promises to improve the unit, made to Joe’s mother Dawn Brazier, have been kept, with nearly £1million spent on Wedgwood’s two West Suffolk Hospital wards.

Ms Brazier said: “It breaks my heart that the trust do not seem to have learned from the mistakes made with Joe.

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“I took great comfort from the inquest, where the coroner referred to a legacy left in the wake of Joe’s death that change in mental health services had happened and would continue to do so.

“However in light of the recent report from the CQC, it would appear that any change is inadequate and many vulnerable people like Joe remain at risk.”

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The trust settled a legal claim over the death of Joe, who was 19 when he died, last year and paid out a four figure sum.

Medical negligence specialist Sharon Allison, from Ashton KCJ, represented Ms Brazier.

She told the EADT: “The findings of the CQC have been incredibly distressing for Joe’s mother.

“She has suffered a lot since her son died and to hear that the very same issues have still mot been resolved, it is a horrible time for her.”

She claimed that the trust was made aware of ligature point concerns three years before Joe’s death and have continued to not resolve them.

She said: “I’m frankly astonished and very disturbed that the most recent CQC report found some ward environments were unacceptable and needed many improvements to make them safer, including reducing ligatures.”

Last week’s CQC report recommended that the trust, which runs mental health services across the two counties, was placed into “special measures”.

NSFT director of operations for Suffolk, Alison Armstrong, said: “The promises we made have been kept. We made a firm commitment to do everything possible to minimise ligature risks at Wedgwood House and that has been fully honoured.”

The report into Wedgwood House described the unit as “well designed” and highlighted that ligature risks were assessed and proportionately managed.

Ligature risks were criticised at the trust’s Waveney Ward and Rollesby unit, at Hellesdon Hospital, in Norwich, at Carlton Court, in Lowestoft, and in Lark ward, at Woodlands, Ipswich.

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