Bereaved family of Christopher Walker still waiting for answers

Front entrance to Grangewoo mental health crisis unit in Derry.
Front entrance to Grangewoo mental health crisis unit in Derry.

The family of a 45-year-old man who died after an apparent suicide attempt in a local mental health facility have said they are still waiting for answers.

Christopher Walker from Rock Mills in Derry was taken to Grangewood Mental Health Crisis Unit in Gransha several weeks ago following the latest in a series of suicide attempts.

On September 24th he was found there in an unconscious state after an apparent suicide attempt and rushed to Altnagelvin Hospital.

He never regained consciousness however and he died a few days later on September 29.

His uncle Ian Leitch said that several weeks on the family still have no answers regarding Christopher’s supervision at Grangewood.

Mr Leitch said: “We didn’t even know he was in hospital. A friend of his informed me.

“He had tried on three separate occasions to take his own life. Once at the rear of the Guildhall when he was stopped by some members of the public; second time he went into the river, and the third time the police got him and he was arrested for his own safety and he was in Gransha.

“The saddest thing about it was he was transferred to Gransha Hospital, Grangewood. He was in their care for a few weeks and whilst in care he attempted to take his life in his room.”

The family said that as far as they are aware, Christopher was brain dead by the time he was found in his room at Grangewood.

Mr Leitch said that there were questions over the suitability of his accommodation and over the supervision, given the fact that he was known to have previously attempted to take his life.

“I believed he was in a safer environment whilst in the hospital getting treatment.

“We want to make the public aware, but are not scare mongering.

“I know Christopher is gone and we have to accept that but it is for other people now, to tell them to check and make sure their loved ones are ok.

“We want answers that can be believed. I think there needs to be a review.”

Mr Leitch said they were told in the aftermath by staff that procedures would have to be reviewed in light of what happened to Christopher.

In response, a spokesperson for the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) said: “Respecting confidentiality the Western Trust does not comment on the individual treatment and care of its patients or clients.

“When such instances occur in the Trust, they are subject to a serious adverse incident (SAI) review. These reviews would involve input from families and or the next of kin. The Trust has a robust Serious Adverse Incident process in place to maintain and further strengthen the safety of services for patients, clients, staff and the general public. The reporting of incidents and near misses is a fundamental aspect of risk management which contributes to the delivery of safe services. All SAIs are taken very seriously by the Trust.

“Any Learning from SAIs is applied across all services to prevent any possible future reoccurrence and to minimise the impact of such incidents.”