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Family of mental health patient who died on leave asked ward not to release him, inquest hears

PUBLISHED: 19:30 30 October 2018 | UPDATED: 14:53 31 October 2018

Matthew Arkle, 37, from Bury St Edmunds Picture: ARKLE FAMILY

Matthew Arkle, 37, from Bury St Edmunds Picture: ARKLE FAMILY


The family of a mental health patient who died while on leave from hospital had asked the ward to not to release him, an inquest has heard.

Matthew Arkle, 37, from Bury St Edmunds. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDMatthew Arkle, 37, from Bury St Edmunds. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Matthew Arkle, 37, of Cumberland Avenue, Bury St Edmunds, was found dead on Hardwick Heath on April 6, 2017, two days after he was granted an hour’s unescorted leave from the Wedgwood House mental health unit at West Suffolk Hospital.

Mr Arkle, who suffered with paranoid schizophrenia, had been admitted to the ward, which run by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, following an overdose on prescription medicine in February 2017.

On the second day of his inquest, the jury heard Mr Arkle’s family were a crucial part of his mental wellbeing, described by his care co-ordinator Amanda Turner as a ‘protective factor’.

The inquest heard that the on the day Mr Arkle’s hour of leave was granted, his family had told the ward they could not come and visit, which could have a negative effect on his mental health

Matthew Arkle, 37, from Bury St Edmunds Picture: ARKLE FAMILYMatthew Arkle, 37, from Bury St Edmunds Picture: ARKLE FAMILY

Despite asking the ward not to release him, this instruction was not passed onto that day’s charge nurse.

Giving evidence, Mrs Turner, who led Mr Arkle’s care, said she had observed him the day before he went missing, describing his mood as ‘the lowest I had seen him in a long while’. She added his ‘voices’, which told him to hurt himself and others, had been troubling Mr Arkle that day.

The charge nurse on the day Mr Arkle went missing, Stuart Clarke, told the inquest he had assessed Mr Arkle before letting him go, saying he was in a better mood and showing no signs of the voices bothering him.

“Prior to going on leave I had a conversation with a colleague who knew Matty very well,” he said.

“They said he was getting back to his jovial, cheeky self.”

Mr Clarke said it had not been passed on that his family did not want Mr Arkle to leave or that he had been in a low mood the day before. However, he said the extra information would not have changed his decision on letting Mr Arkle leave the ward, although he said he would have called the police sooner if he had known.

Mr Clarke described the ward as very busy that day, the inquest hearing that another patient, deemed as high risk, had also gone missing from the ward that day.

The inquest, which is expected to run until Thursday, continues.

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