Maidstone: Mother says suicidal daughter was failed by hospital

The mother of a woman who took her own life says her daughter was “utterly failed” by the hospital caring for her.

Emma Pring killed herself on 20 April 2021 with anti-ligature clothing given to her at the Cygnet Hospital in Maidstone, an inquest was told.

An inquest ruled Ms Pring, 29, had not been given specific care that could have prevented her death.

Cygnet said it had shared the lessons learnt from an internal inquiry with staff throughout the healthcare firm.

Ms Pring, from Uckfield, East Sussex, was receiving therapy at the private hospital that required her to relive abuse she suffered as a teenager.

Once she started the trauma therapies, the inquest heard Ms Pring began struggling, and from 15 April had “daily incidents of serious self harm and suicide attempts”.

Despite this, the inquest found she was not placed on one-to-one observations which could have prevented her death.

‘Utterly failed’

The inquest concluded that due to “insufficient level of observation and a misjudgement of Emma’s actual risk”, she took her own life.

It was clear from CCTV that there was a “failure to adhere to the policy regarding observations within a 15 minute window”, the inquest ruled.

Her mother, Caroline Sharp, said after the hearing: “When Emma was transferred to Cygnet Maidstone… I thought that she would receive Rolls-Royce care, the best money could offer. I hoped it would be a turning point in Emma’s life.

“Instead, Emma was utterly failed by Cygnet.”

She added: “She was struggling to cope with the trauma therapy she was being given, and her cries for help – which were getting increasingly desperate – were ignored. It is a tragedy to know that her death was preventable.”

Ms Pring’s death was recorded as asphyxiation caused by self application of a ligature.

Presentational grey line

Cygnet Health Care, which runs the Maidstone hospital, said it had shared the recommendations of its internal review, which followed Ms Pring’s death, throughout the company.

And it said it was discussing potential improvements to design and use of anti-tear clothing with the manufacturer.