THE family of a mum found dead at a mental health unit want to know why she was only under minimal observation.

Mum-of-two Melanie Lowe, from Tolleshunt Knights, died on March 2 after being found unresponsive at the Derwent Centre in Princess Alexandria Hospital in Harlow.

An inquest at Essex Coroner’s Court, which opened on Monday, heard how she was transferred to the A&E department, but despite efforts of staff and paramedics she was pronounced dead at 8.50am.

In a statement, Rachel Codd, of Irwin Mitchell solicitors, said: “Melanie was a devoted mother to her two children and the family are still reeling from her death.

“It is their hope that the inquest will determine whether more could have been done to save her.”

The inquest heard Melanie had a history of mental illness and had been admitted under section 2 of the Mental Health Act on February 23.

The following day, she took an overdose. However, medics at the unit downgraded Mrs Lowe, 41, from constant watch to requiring “minimal” observation.

Psychiatrist Claire Royston said the level of observation in the Derwent centre, run by North Essex Partnership, was a “cause for concern”.

She said: “Melanie was clearly an intelligent and articulate woman, and suffered from somatization disorder, meaning that while she was aware of her mental health issues, her quest to cure the debilitating conditions was unsuccessful, which would have left her feeling depressed and in despair.

“The hospital’s observation levels down to minimal is a cause of concern, as I do not think the trust managed them as best they could. The level of distress she was clearly under must be highlighted.”

Abiodun Kolapo, deputy manager for Mrs Lowe’s ward, said she had looked “bright and normal” five minutes before she was discovered in her room.

He said: “She then told a member of staff she was still feeling tired and was going back to her room, which was adjacent from the communal area.

“I went into the kitchen, when the alarm sounded at 7.35am with a nurse running to me to tell me to have a look at Melanie. We came into her room, where she was unresponsive, so I began to do CPR.”

Mr Kolapo said the day before her death, her husband Tony had visited.

He added: “Mrs Lowe said to me that she did not wish to see him, but to tell him she loved him and for us to collect the bag he had brought for her.”

Representing Melanie’s family, Ashley Pratt questioned why staff believed Melanie spending time in her room was normal behaviour, as they had not spent a lot of time with her.

A police investigation into Melanie’s death found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. The inquest is due to conclude tomorrow.