EDP: Mother of Norwich man who died of heroin overdose blames institutional failings of mental health trust

Geraldine Scott of the Eastern Daily Press reports:

The family of a man who died of a heroin overdose at his Norwich flat blamed “institutional failings of the mental health trust” for the circumstances surrounding his death.

Mr Jacobs’ friends told Norfolk’s Coroner’s Court this morning it was here Mr Jacobs was victim to the practice of cuckooing – where drug dealers take over a property.

And his mother Sheila Preston said if “sufficient care and treatment” had been provided by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) drug dealers would not have been able to take advantage of her son.

Sheila Preston, a public governor of NSFT, was warning about the inevitable consequences of mental health cuts for people like her son, at least three years before he died.

But Miss Preston said her son, who had suffered with paranoid schizophrenia for 20 years, should not have been allowed to get into that position.

Miss Preston said she was unaware of his drug use as Mr Jacobs had cut contact with his family.

But she said Mr Jacobs kept a diary for 20 years. Miss Preston added: “He wrote in his diary two days before he died he did not want interlopers in his flat.”

Miss Preston said: “As a family we feel strongly that his death was a result of institutional failings of the mental health trust.”

Miss Preston said changes in the community team had meant Mr Jacobs had not seen a mental health professional for months.

She said: “We know now he had no face-to-face visit from mental health professionals for two months prior to his death.”

She also said NSFT had not adequately considered hospitalising her son. And she felt the family had been kept in the dark about the severity of her son’s illness and drug taking.

“Our hands were tied and we were left in ignorance,” she said.

“I hold NSFT responsible for the unchecked decline in his mental health resulting in his death.

“I believe with sufficient care and treatment Leo would be alive today.

“We loved and valued Leo and he deserved a better life than the one he had.”

Sheila Preston continues to fight for decent mental health services. She is an admirable woman.

Click on the image below to read the article in full on the EDP website:

202 thoughts on “EDP: Mother of Norwich man who died of heroin overdose blames institutional failings of mental health trust”

  1. It is hard to believe that someone so vulnerable would only be visited even once per month..this would in normal circumstances only be for someone in the later stages of recovery, prior to discharge, which he was not….unfortunately, someone with such a long standing enduring mental illness, means that long term monitoring and support is lengthened due to increasing caseload, staff shortages etc….this means that the chances of a persons relapse, or risk of being exploited increases, with reducing support….how many more terrible, sad, cases, will we have to see before Mr Hunt stops misquoting statistics, about how much he’s done for mental health and actually does something POSITIVE for all those families, carers and sufferers.?

  2. My heartfelt sorrow goes out to Leo’s family and friends. His mother’s efforts are truly commendable; and not in vain.
    I will simply quote, here, from the classic case of The Winslow Boy – written by Terrence Rattigan – “Let right be done”.

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