AN inquest into the death of a man on a Colchester mental health ward has ruled the man’s care amounted to neglect.

The inquest investigated the death of Michael Woods, who died in December 2020 on the Henneage mental health ward in Colchester, which is run by the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT).

Area coroner for Essex Sean Horstead concluding that the care provided to Mr Woods amounted to neglect after the inquest ended this week.

It comes after a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive in June 2021 saw the NHS North Essex Partnership Trust fined £1.5million for safety failings over the deaths of 11 patients between 2004 and 2015.

The prosecution, led by Tees Law, had pointed to the existence of fixed potential ligature points as breaches of safety laws.

However, despite the trust pleading guilty in November 2020, Tees said Mr Woods was still able to take his own life using a ligature in December that year.

Following six days of evidence from witnesses and clinicians at EPUT in May 2020, the coroner concluded that Mr Woods died by suicide contributed to by neglect.

The coroner advised that a number of missed opportunities “individually and cumulatively more than minimally contributed to the death of Michael Woods”.

These included an inadequate risk assessment both at point of admission to Henneage Ward on December 10, 2020, and then on an ongoing basis.

This is said to have amounted to repeated missed opportunities to recognise that there was a high risk of self-harm.

When Mr Woods was found at 9pm, staff are also said to have failed to deploy a mask when using the bag valve mask apparatus.

Craig Knightley, a solicitor at Tees Law, said: “Mick was able to take his life by use of a ligature on the ward. Mick’s death was and should have been entirely preventable.

“The coroner’s conclusion this week, particularly the findings of neglect, recognises the complete failure in providing Mick with even the most basic of care at a time when he was at his most vulnerable.

 “The family are very grateful to the coroner for undertaking a thorough and fearless investigation. I hope the conclusion goes some way in securing justice for Mick.”