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Father’s plea after apology from NHS trust over son’s tragic death

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The father of a man who took his own life 48 hours after hospital staff deemed him not to be a suicide risk has called for lessons to be learned.

Richard Bellerby, 72, spoke out after receiving an apology from NHS bosses in Sheffield following the death of his son Andrew, 35, in 2015.

Andrew, who was living in Upperthorpe, died two days after arriving by ambulance at A&E at the city’s Northern General Hospital on July 8, where he told staff he had been having suicidal thoughts. He was referred to the Liaison Psychiatry Service, but discharged after a mental health assessment was carried out by nurses who were not qualified to do so, an investigation found.

Mr Bellerby died by hanging on July 10.

His father Richard, of Aldwark, North Yorkshire, said: “Andrew’s death was devastating for the family.

“It’s been a difficult three years as we have tried to come to terms with his death.

“The experience has left us feeling that our son’s life was worth nothing to the NHS and those responsible for Andrew’s care.

“That is an unbearable and unacceptable feeling.”

The investigation found Mr Bellerby told nurses at the Liaison Psychiatry Service, part of Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, that he had made suicide attempts and did not feel safe or mentally well

Nursing carried out an assessment using the Crisis Triage Rating Scale (CTRS), which scored him as 14 out of 15, indicating a non-urgent condition, and he was discharged.

Following his son’s death Mr Bellerby launched legal action, represented by law firm Irwin Mitchell.

The NHS trust also carried out an investigation and has since apologised, but has not accepted liability.

Mr Bellerby said the grieving process had been made harder by delays including the loss of some of Andrew’s medical records.

He said: “These experiences all add to the pain that we as a family have felt since losing Andrew.”

Irwin Mitchell said an apology was only given after a settlement of the legal action.

Medical Negligence Specialist Samuel Hill said: “What Richard and the rest of the family have gone through is heartbreaking and the issues highlighted by the trust’s own internal investigation are concerning. Andrew was a vulnerable person who went to seek help from those we put our faith in to give us that help.

“Unfortunately, he was deemed to be in a position where the help was not urgently needed.”

Kevan Taylor, Chief Executive of Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Following his tragic death in 2015 we undertook a thorough internal investigation into the care and treatment we provided to Mr Bellerby. This highlighted some areas where the delivery of care could be improved.

“While we are unable to comment on individual cases, I can confirm that the investigation findings and recommendations were shared with Mr Bellerby’s family. We would like to reiterate our apology to them for the areas of poor practice identified by the investigation.

“A comprehensive action plan was put in place following completion of the internal investigation and I can confirm that all the identified actions have been completed.”