Fatal accident inquiry to take place into Borders teenager's death

The Lord Advocate has decided that it is in the public interest to hold a Fatal Accident Inquiry. Credit: Family Photo

A fatal accident inquiry is set to take place following the death of a Borders teenager.

Harris Macdonell was 19-years-old when he took his own life after being treated in an adult mental health unit.

His mum, Jane Macdonell, says her son Harris was “traumatised” after receiving treatment at NHS Borders’ Huntlyburn House and believes access to a young person’s mental health ward could have saved his life.

The Lord Advocate has decided that a fatal accident inquiry is in the public interest regarding the circumstances surrounding his death.

The decision to hold an inquiry was made following an independent investigation by the Procurator Fiscal.

Procurator Fiscal Andy Shanks, who leads on fatalities investigations for Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, said: The Lord Advocate has decided that a discretionary Fatal Accident Inquiry should be held into the causes of this tragic death to ensure that there can be a full public hearing of the facts of the case.

“The Procurator Fiscal has now started work to initiate this inquiry and there are a number of legal steps which must be taken before it can commence.

“Harris’ family will be kept informed of what will happen next.”

A previous statement by NHS Borders said: "Whilst in order to respect confidentiality we will not comment in detail, we can confirm that following Harris's tragic death an extensive and externally led review of his care was undertaken so that we could learn any lessons to improve our services in the future.

“The actions identified by the review have been implemented.

“We agree that children and young people who require inpatient care should, wherever possible, be admitted to an age-appropriate unit.

"If this is not possible, and they have to be admitted to our adult inpatient unit, we will always advise the Mental Welfare Commission (MWC) that this has happened, in line with their guidance.

"Our practice is then informed by the MWC for Scotland guidance on treating children and young people in adult mental health wards.”

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