‘Missed opportunities’ to save police officer’s life

‘Missed opportunities’ to save police officer’s life

PC Sharon Houfe

Image caption

PC Sharon Houfe was found dead at her house in April 2017

Medical staff missed chances to save the life of a police officer who later killed herself, a coroner’s inquest has found.

PC Sharon Houfe was assessed at least four times in the days before her death by different mental health nurses.

She was found dead at her house on 29 April 2017.

Hull Coroner Professor Paul Marks said “neglect” by the Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust had contributed to her death.

The inquest heard the Humberside Police officer begged nurses to treat her depression and asked to be sectioned and taken into care.

In one meeting she told a nurse: “I need putting away and I have thoughts of ending my life.”

‘Gradual spiral’

Giving his ruling, Professor Marks said “poor clinical judgments” meant Ms Houfe’s case was not passed on to psychiatric doctors.

He added: “I have little doubt that if either or all of these missed opportunities had been taken Miss Houfe would have received effective treatment and would not have taken her own life.”

Ms Houfe, who was 43 when she died, was recognised for her work tackling hate crime in the New Year’s honours list in 2014, being awarded a MBE.

John Ward, her partner of 14 years, described her illness as a “gradual spiral downwards”.

“She just felt like she wasn’t getting anywhere,” he said.

“She felt like she was doing her best to try and get herself all the help she could and she was just having the door closed in her face all the time.

“She was really desperate.”

In a statement, the trust’s medical director Dr John Byrne said: “It is clear from the inquest findings that we missed opportunities to intervene and support Sharon.

“This is a matter of deep regret for not just the organisation but also the staff involved.”


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