Emily Townsend of the East Anglian Daily Times reports:
A coroner has questioned online drug sales after a “bubbly” 22-year-old from Suffolk managed to purchase a huge quantity of tablets from regulated websites.
Gemma MacDonald, from Stowmarket, died on July 22 after taking a “massive” overdose of medication she bought online, an inquest in Ipswich heard.
Described by her family as “a bit rebellious but loveable”, the inquest at Suffolk Coroner’s Court heard Miss MacDonald had suffered mental health issues in the past, including anxiety and depression, and had reported hearing voices.
She had not intended for the overdose to be fatal, area coroner Jacqueline Devonish concluded, before announcing she would be issuing what is known as a ‘regulation 28’ report to prevent future deaths.
The coroner will be writing to two medication companies over what she described as a “systemic issue”, adding: “You have got medication being sold in massive quantities by regulated organisations online.”
Another appalling example of our laissez-faire approach to regulation.
Miss MacDonald told paramedics on the way to West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, where she later died, that she regretted ingesting the tablets but voices had told her to do so.
Her mother Alison added: “She was very much someone that wanted to live.”
This is a terrible reminder of why prompt mental health treatment is so important. With hindsight, most people want help in the moment of greatest need, not to die.
In Norfolk and Waveney, only 56.98 per cent of emergency over-18 referrals are seen within target. Some people are left waiting more than a day.
Of course, in the case of a suspected overdose, ring 999 immediately. Every minute can make a difference.
The second day of Miss MacDonald’s inquest heard evidence from her care coordinator Molly Thornton, of the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), who was the only person treating the 22-year-old from May until her death in July.
Miss MacDonald was making good progress, she told the inquest, and said techniques they had discussed to help with the voices and low mood appeared to be working.
She was very willing to engage, showed no signs of self-harming and had a safety plan in place to deal with any suicidal thoughts, Ms Thornton added.
However, a wall planner and diary the 22-year-old carer kept suggested otherwise and indicated her mental health was deteriorating – particularly in July.
The appalling cuts to qualified nurses and care co-ordinator caseloads mean that home visits and time are in short supply.
Why is Molly Thornton in court rather than the politicians and NHS bureaucrats who have destroyed mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk?
Ms Devonish also raised concerns that medical records held by NSFT indicated she had first accessed their services in August 2018, when her GP and family said she had actually been under their care since 2011.
How many times have coroners commented on Lorenzo and record keeping at NSFT?
She said trust bosses should note her concerns about Miss MacDonald not seeing a psychiatrist for a medication review while under the care of the Stowmarket Integrated Delivery Team (IDT), which she moved to from Ipswich in May, but added this would have been an individual issue for the care coordinator to manage.
Care co-ordinators are put in an almost impossible position with lack of resources and time.
With referrals doubled and 45 fewer doctors than when the Norfolk and Suffolk mental health trusts merged, how easy is it to arrange a consultation or medication review with a doctor?
Did they even have a psychiatrist who had completed the training and passed the exams of the Royal College of Psychiatry?
How is a care coordinator with twice as many patients supposed to ‘manage’ the disappearance of one in five doctors?
Why do coroners and the ‘system’ insist on blaming individuals rather than cuts and chaos?
It was clear Miss MacDonald was “intelligent, likeable and bubbly”, Ms Devonish said, before expressing condolences to her family.
The 22-year-old’s step-sister, Lorna Hicks, described her as “hilarious” – saying she always had a “big smile” on her face.
Her mother Alison added: “She could be a bit rebellious, but she was still just so loveable.”
Our campaign isn’t political, it is moral.
How many more deaths?
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