Mother says her daughter was failed by mental health system, inquest hears

  • Report by Granada Reports journalist Anna Youssef

A woman who took her own life was failed by the mental health system her mother has claimed.

Lauren Bridges, 20, was an inpatient at the privately run Priory Hospital Cheadle Royal near Stockport in Greater Manchester when she was found unresponsive in February 2022.

The admission meant she was more than 200 miles away from her family in Bournemouth, something her family say worsened her condition, her inquest heard.

Her mother, Lindsey Bridges, told the inquest at Stockport Coroner’s Court, that Lauren developed a "variety of unhealthy coping mechanisms", saying she was "locked away in an environment that was causing her more harm than good".

She said the family were "excluded" from the decision-making and that Lauren was given an hour to pack before she was transferred, leaving her daughter "distraught and traumatised."

Ms Bridges added: "After that, her mental health declined."Ms Bridges also said the family had "significant concerns" about the care she received at Cheadle Royal Hospital, particularly in relation to night agency staff and the "lack of compassion shown by staff".She said her daughter "struggled at night" and that night staff "offered no support."

She claimed that "all her possessions were taken away at one point, including all her sensory items."Ms Bridges said "living with very unwell patients had a detrimental impact on Lauren" and that she was "regularly threatened by" and "lived in fear" of other patients, including one who Ms Bridges claimed had threatened to kill her.She said Lauren "worked hard to be heard, understood and to get home" and that she "cried out for help, help she so desperately wanted."She said she had discussed going to 10 Downing Street with her daughter and delivering a petition to the Prime Minister "demanding change to mental health services."

Lauren Bridges, 20, was an inpatient at the privately run Priory Hospital Cheadle Royal near Stockport.

The inquest heard Lauren had been an inpatient at other psychiatric units eight times previously before being admitted to The Priory.

She was a patient in Cheadle Royal's psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU) designed to be short-term placements for patients “suffering from an acute phase of severe mental illness”.

After being found unresponsive on the unit on 24 February 2022, her family rushed up to be at her bedside.

But the following day a decision was made in consultation with her family to withdraw her life support. 

Continuing with her evidence, Ms Bridges said her daughter was autistic and had struggled with her mental health for several years.

Lauren, had two younger brothers Bobby, 11, and Alfie, who died aged two in 2010. She was first referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) aged 15.

After passing her GCSEs, she started studying A Levels and aspired to be a doctor or a paediatric nurse, Mrs Bridges said.

She was first admitted to a psychiatric unit in October 2018, on a voluntary basis as she was about to turn 17.

Over the coming years she was admitted to units a further seven times. Her ninth admission was to Cheadle Royal in July 2021.

By September that year she had improved and was deemed to be "ready to step down onto an acute unit closer to home", South Manchester Coroner's Court heard.

However, by February 2022 she was still at the hospital, and was demonstrating "escalating behaviours" and was becoming "increasingly distressed", it was heard.

Ms Bridges said: “Lauren was a a straight-A student who was beautiful inside and out.”

The inquest, which is expected to last two weeks, continues.