Widow urges action on depression

The widow of a man who killed himself by jumping in front of a train has called for more to be done to help people suffering from depression.

The widow of a man who killed himself by jumping in front of a train has called for more to be done to help people suffering from depression.

Road safety engineer Peter Bane, 48, from Happisburgh, Norfolk, died when he was hit by both a passenger and a freight train at Witham railway station in Essex on February 16, 2010.

The father-of-three was found with a suicide note in his pocket and had told the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust that he was contemplating taking his own life on at least three occasions in the two weeks leading up to his death.

His wife, Angela Bane, has now spoken out about her concerns that cuts to mental health services around the country could contribute to further tragedies.

Mrs Bane said: "Peter was let down when he needed professional help most.

"As we hear more and more news about cuts to mental health services and budget restraints, what happened to Peter only goes to show what a poor state many mental health services in the UK are in.

"As a family who lost a loving husband and father because of inadequate procedures that jeopardised the safety of vulnerable people (it) is both infuriating and heartbreaking.

"We are pleased to hear that the trust has implemented new procedures to try and prevent any other errors being made but we hope that this will now be rolled out across the UK to ensure no other patient's safety is compromised in a similar way."

Mr Bane was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for treatment 11 days before his death.

An inquest held in 2011 found that information about the severity of his condition was lost in the process of referral from his GP to mental health services because the calls were received by receptionists, rather than mental health professionals, who have the responsibility of ensuring vital information is recorded.

The trust has since reached an undisclosed settlement with his family and said changes had been made to prevent future incidents.

Anita Jewitt, a medical law expert for the family's solicitors , Irwin Mitchell, London office representing the family, called for steps to be taken to improve care and protect patient safety across the country.

"Peter suffered from occasional episodes of depression but managed appropriately; he recovered and returned to work," she added.

"Many people who knew Peter were not aware that he suffered from depression, as he actively tried to manage this and always sought help when he needed it.

"Peter and Angela did all they could to seek out help in the correct way and Peter referred himself to mental health professionals.

"We welcome confirmation from the trust that improvements have been made to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again but we would expect these lessons learnt to have been shared across NHS mental health services to improve standards as a whole."

Dr Hadrian Ball, medical director at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said he would not comment on any financial settlement, saying it would distract from the "awful events" surrounding Mr Bane's death.

He added: "Whenever a tragedy of this nature occurs, our first thoughts must be with the family and friends of the deceased.

"Services have been improved substantially since Mr Bane's death to reduce the chance of anything similar happened again.

"The trust's senior management is committed to continual improvements in our services and we will work with commissioners to ensure that recommendations continue to be implemented and learning shared."