A DISABLED woman threw herself into a river and killed herself – two days after being turned away from a hospital where she had begged a mental health worker for a bed and said she feared she would kill herself.

Desperate Deborah Milliken pleaded not to be sent home because she was suicidal – but she was given diazepam and discharged after being told there were no beds available.

A doctor at Winchester’s Royal Hampshire County Hospital said they had no choice but to send the 54-year-old back home in an ambulance – despite a stark warning of her friends that Miss Milliken would follow through with her threat – because they could not overrule the decision of mental health workers.

Two days later she parked her mobility scooter by the side of the River Test, near Sadler’s Mill, in Romsey, then disappeared.

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A major police search was launched, with the waterway scoured and the police helicopter deployed.

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Her body was found 12 days later two miles away, in the river by Lee Lane, on the Broadlands Estate.

Now a coroner has criticised the mental health workers and hospital staff who had “fobbed her off” and failed to section Multiple Sclerosis sufferer Miss Milliken when they could have.

Senior Hampshire coroner Grahame Short, who ruled she intended to kill herself, said it was “disappointing” that those in charge had not been able to provide the help she desperately needed even though they could have two days before she died.

The coroner’s court heard how Miss Milliken had raised the alarm with the community mental health team, calling their crisis line on Saturday, October 18 last year, only to be told “there’s nothing we can do, it’s the weekend”.

By the following day she called the non emergency NHS line and Miss Milliken told workers she intended to kill herself and had the means to do it.

An ambulance was sent to her home in Latham Road, Romsey, and Miss Milliken was taken to the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, accompanied by her worried friends Barbara Steward and Ruth Holzer, where she was seen by a male mental health assessor.

The court heard how Miss Milliken tearfully told the Accident and Emergency mental health assessor: “I need to be admitted, I’m scared for myself.”

But her plea was refused by the man, who told her there were no beds in Winchester and that she could end up “anywhere in the country”.

Ms Steward said the assessor then went on to say he “had a plan” which he didn’t divulge, the court was told.

The inquest heard from Ms Steward who said that a senior hospital doctor told her she agreed Miss Milliken needed to be admitted, but they couldn’t do anything to overrule the mental health team.

“She told many professionals she was intending to kill herself if she was sent home,” she added.

Miss Milliken, who was wheelchair-bound, was then carried out to an ambulance accompanied by her friend, who spotted the mental health worker smoking outside.

Ms Steward warned him: “You have condemned her. She will die because of what you have done.”

The coroner was told that Miss Milliken had suffered with MS for 28 years, was fighting permanent fatigue and had suffered from depression for more than a decade.

She had dedicated 20 years to helping others and was presented with the Multiple Sclerosis Society's top Shining Star Award in 2006.

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Witnesses told the Winchester inquest how Miss Milliken (above) was hugely sociable, with a wide circle of friends who rallied round whenever she felt extremely unwell.

But last autumn, she became increasingly frightened by the progressive nature of her illness, and the looming possibility of losing her independence.

She registered with the Swiss assisted-dying clinic Dignitas but, until the last years of her life, always said that she would never commit suicide.

Neighbour Alice Coram said Miss Milliken “felt unsupported” by the mental health professionals caring for her.

“She was disappointed and frightened by the lack of care.

“She was desperate to get better – she was trying everything she could to turn a corner.”