Priory hospital neglected mental health blogger who ordered poison from Russia, court finds

Beth Matthews, 26, died a short time after taking the substance, which she told staff was protein powder
Beth Matthews, 26, died a short time after taking the substance, which she told staff was protein powder

A mental health blogger who took her own life was failed by the psychiatric hospital treating her, a jury has found.

Beth Matthews, 26, was being treated at the Priory Hospital Cheadle Royal in Stockport when she died after taking a poisonous substance she had ordered from Russia in March last year.

She had ordered the substance online and told staff it was protein powder.

An inquest at Manchester South Coroners' Court concluded that she died from suicide contributed to by neglect.

Matthews, from Cornwall, was being treated on the NHS for a personality disorder, the hearing was told.

She was considered a complex patient at high risk of suicide, and had a history of suicide attempts.

Matthews was described in court as “bright” and “vivacious”.

Matthews was being treated for a personality disorder - UNPIXS
Matthews was being treated for a personality disorder - UNPIXS

The hospital provided "inadequate care of a highly vulnerable patient," the jury found, adding that it was “evident there were serious inconsistencies across all levels of her care plan".

This care plan, which the court heard was labelled that only staff should be allowed to open it, was criticised by the jury.

They found there was a widespread "lack of communication, failing to escalate serious risk factors, lack of team cohesion, and reliance on inaccurate and inadequate information".

A care worker had written in her notes that everything  Matthews received "must be checked", and that "we need to be opening her parcels for her".

But the court heard that she was allowed to open the package with two staff members monitoring her.

The staff were "unable to prevent her from consuming" the substance, the jury found.

The Priory Group admitted that if the patient’s care plan had been followed, she would not have been able to ingest the poison.

A spokesman for the Priory Group said: "We fully accept the jury's findings and acknowledge that far greater attention should have been given to Beth's care plan.

"At the time of Beth's unexpected death, we took immediate steps to address the issues around how we document risk and communicate patients' care plans, alongside our processes for receiving and opening post.

"We want to extend our deepest condolences to Beth's family and friends for their loss. Beth's attempts to overcome her mental health challenges had been an inspiration for many.

"Although unexpected deaths are extremely rare, we recognise that every loss of life in our care is a tragedy."