Mother 'pleaded' with social workers for more support before son's death, inquest hears

Elaine Wilcox has been at the inquest into Charlie Millers' death.

The mother of a transgender teenager "pleaded" with social workers for more support before his death, an inquest has heard.

Charlie Millers, 17, died five days after being found unresponsive in his room at Prestwich Hospital near Bury as a result of self-inflicted injuries on 2 December 2020.

During the third day of the inquest into his death Charlie's social worker Nicky Herbert admitted a more experienced professional should have been in charge.

Giving evidence to the jury inquest at Rochdale Coroners Coutr, Ms Herbert explained she had only been in the job for two years, and said Charlie had the most complex needs of all of her 20 cases.

When asked by the coroner if someone with more experience would have been better suited to Charlie's care, she agreed.

The 17-year-old from Trafford was born female, and was severely bullied at school when he transitioned as a 12-year-old. He also claimed he had been sexually abused by his peers.

At the beginning of the inquest Charlie's mum, Sam Millers, said her son had a long history of mental health issues and regularly self-harmed.

Charlie's mother, Samantha Millers said she asked for support for her son and expected him to be looked after Credit: MEN Media

He was sectioned various times, was known to social services and by 2020 he was in a cycle of self harming behaviour.

The inquest was told that Charlie's self harming got worse after his admission to the secure ward Junction 17 at Prestwich Hospital.

Giving more evidence, Charlie's mum told the inquest she was working full time and had two other children at home.

She had pleaded with social workers for more support and said she often felt like running away.

Under the Carers Act - extra support could have been given to the family but his social worker was not aware of that this was an option.

She told the inquest this route was not suggested by her supervisors, who will be giving evidence on Thursday 11 April.

The inquest also heard how before his death Charlie told his mother that a member of staff on the ward had handled him roughly, called him stupid and told him to 'man up' when he was self harming.

Charlie Millers was being treated at a mental health unit at Prestwich Hospital Credit: Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust

A month before his death, a social worker at the unit reported that staff had watched the 17-year-old self harming and did not stop him.

His injuries were so severe a blood transfusion was considered.

His social worker Nicky Herbert told the coroner that this was a "major red flag" - however acknowledged that Charlie could not go home without more support and Trafford Council were unable to find him a better placement or foster care.

The inquest could last up to three weeks, with the jury looking to answer whether Charlie meant to take his own life.

On the first day of the inquest, his mother told the court she had had a conversation with him before his death where he had said he was not doing it because he wanted to end his life, it was just his way of self-harming.

Charlie with his mum; Sam Credit: Family handout

The inquest will also examine the circumstances and care provided by Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, Trafford Borough Council and five other Interested Persons.

He was one of three young people to die at the hospital, run by Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH), in less than a year.

Rowan Thompson, 18, died in October 2020 and Ania Sohail, 21, died in June 2021 whilst on the same ward.

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