Ferryhill woman Linda Banks 'passed from pillar to post' before taking life - inquest

Linda Banks was receiving treatment from the Durham and Darlington Crisis Team before her death in April 2022. Credit: Family

A County Durham woman who contacted a mental health crisis team in the weeks before she took her own life was "passed from pillar to post", an inquest has heard.

Linda Banks, of Ferryhill, died in April 2022 after receiving treatment from the Durham and Darlington Crisis Team, which is run by the Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.

On Tuesday 21 November, Crook Coroners Court heard the crisis team were in special measures at the time and a proper assessment had not been carried out on the 48-year-old.

The court heard paramedics were called to Miss Banks's home on 9 April last year after she tried to take her own life.

She was also found to be suffering from hypothermia and said she had not eaten for seven days. She died in hospital the following day.

The inquest heard Miss Banks and her family made several calls to the Durham and Darlington crisis team in the weeks before she died – telling them she felt anxious, paranoid, suicidal and had been harming herself.

During that time, the crisis team was in special measures with low staffing levels.

The inquest is taking place at Crook Coroners Court in County Durham. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Jayne Bennet, a clinician from the team, accepted Miss Banks's calls had not been dealt with properly and told the coroner a proper assessment on her was not carried out.

She said Miss Banks's case should have been escalated and agreed with the coroner that there was no real safety plan in place.

The coroner was told Miss Banks, who had learning difficulties, was "passed from pillar to post" when she contacted the crisis team.

They told her to speak to her GP, the court heard, while the GP told her to call the crisis team.

The inquest comes just weeks after another raised concerns around the Durham and Darlington Crisis Team.

David Stevens, 57, from Willington, took his own life in August 2022.

At the inquest into his death in October the court was told Mr Stevens contacted the crisis team 15 times in the three weeks before he died.

Assistant Coroner Janine Richards said there were missed opportunities to manage and assess Mr Stevens's risk, although she could not say if his death could have been prevented.

The inquest heard a serious incident investigation carried out by the trust following Mr Stevens's death found there was a lack of joined-up thinking, poor assessments carried out by inadequately trained staff in the crisis team and a robust safety culture was not visible.

During Mr Stevens's inquest, the court heard from the Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust who said significant improvements had been made, a new leadership team was in place and the crisis team came out of special measures in June 2023.

Ms Richards said at the time that she felt reassured the trust had made improvements following Mr Stevens' death.

The inquest into Miss Banks's death is expected to last three days.

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