Essex NHS Trust 'Failed' Mentally Ill Patient

Health and social care officials have been criticised for letting a severely mentally ill patient live in "squalor''.

An investigation found both Bedford Borough Council and South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust "failed'' to provide care and support for the man who had paranoid schizophrenia.

The man, in his late 50s, suffered malnutrition as a result, the Local Government Ombudsman and Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman investigation found.

They said that care professionals in Bedfordshire focused on keeping the man in his own home at a cost to his health and welfare.

The workers did not properly assess whether he had the capacity to make decisions for himself, they said.

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Dame Julie Mellor said: ``This vulnerable man was left living in squalor because he did not receive the care he was entitled to.

``Health and social care professionals were so fixated on the man's wishes to live independently, that they failed to carry out a capacity assessment of his ability to look after himself, which would have revealed that he was unable to cope with everyday tasks like feeding himself and cleaning.

``As a result, he was two and a half stone underweight, his teeth were rotten and his bedclothes hadn't been washed in months.''

After a number of years of inadequate care, the man was finally moved into supported accommodation in December 2011 and his general condition has ``improved'', a spokeswoman for the Ombudsman said.

In a statement, Bedford Borough Council and South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, said: ``We acknowledge the decision of the Ombudsman and will make a joint payment of £2,000 to the person affected, and a further joint payment of £500 to a family member of the person affected, in recognition of the distress and inconvenience caused.''

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