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Lauren Ellis Trial: Former mental health nurses found not guilty

Rory McDermott, 32, and Naomi Prestidge, 31, have been found not guilty. Credit: ITV Channel TV

Two former mental health nurses have been found not guilty of the manslaughter of a 22-year old patient in their care.

Jurats at Guernsey's Royal Court cleared Rory McDermott and Naomi Prestidge by a majority verdict.

The pair were on shift at the Oberlands Centre on the night Lauren Ellis took her own life in October 2017.

The court had heard how they failed to carry out the required checks in the hours up to Lauren's death.

Defence lawyers argued that there were other factors that could have contributed to Lauren's death, not solely the actions of Rory McDermott and Naomi Prestidge.

Lauren Ellis was a campaigner for mental health awareness and a critic of the mental health service in Guernsey.

Two weeks before she died on the ward, she spoke to ITV Channel TV about her concerns for the treatment she was receiving.

Lauren's family say she was let down by the mental health service in Guernsey.

In a statement following the verdict, Guernsey's Health and Social Care committee offered their thoughts and condolences to Lauren's family and friends.

The Committee said they were frustrated at being unable to dispute some of the claims made during the trial and their focus is on making sure islanders can continue to feel confident in mental health services.

Following Lauren's death, internal and external reviews took place, finding that mental health services were of a good standard while also highlighting areas which required improvement. The Committee says they have already acted on many of those recommendations.

The committee stress they are constantly looking to improve service and ensure best practice.

The death of Ms Ellis is heart-breaking and I want to extend my deepest condolences to her family.I must also say that this trial has been exceptionally difficult for those who work across mental health services.

These professionals and support workers are dedicated to caring for the most vulnerable within our community who regrettably have a mental illness,personality disorder or other complex need. They do an incredibly hard job and I think it is important this is recognised.

– Deputy Heidi Soulsby, President of the Committee for Health & Social Care

Chief Nurse Professor Juliet Beale says it should not take away from the positive work done by mental health services on the island.

As a nurse of 37 years, I know how deeply my colleagues and I care about our patients and how seriously we take our responsibilities, as required by the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s professional Code.

This exceptional case has been deeply shocking and upsetting. My thoughts are, first and foremost, with the family of Ms Ellis, but also with the staff working now at our mental health service, striving each day to provide the best possible care.

I know how proud they are of their service and it is important that this case does not take away from the good work they do on a daily basis

– Professor Juliet Beal, Chief Nurse

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