"THEIR failings killed my Angela."

These are the words of a Southampton father who broke down in tears as he condemned mental health services for neglecting his daughter before her suicide.

Donald Smith told an inquest that there had been scores of missed opportunities by the under-fire Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and his daughter had felt “isolated and alone in her time of need”.

Angela Smith, who suffered from severe mental health problems, was found dead at her home in Nutfield Court, Millbrook, Southampton, following a fatal drugs overdose in September last year.

The inquest heard the 52-year-old had made numerous threats to take her own life, but her father said mental health staff “just ignored her cries for help”.

Despite these threats, she was never diagnosed with severe depression.

Angela’s family and GP, Dr David Gibson, made frequent requests to the Southampton Access and Assessment Team – now the Community Mental Health Team – for her to meet with a psychiatrist, but these were repeatedly rebuffed, it was said.

Now a report of an internal investigation into Angela’s death conducted by Southern Health has outlined these missed chances.

In the 14-page document it is noted that no record was kept about other suicides in the family, which included her brother David who took his life in 1982.

However, Mr Smith confirmed he had mentioned it to staff on numerous occasions.

The report concluded that telephone counselling should be made available for patients and more training given to staff about suicide awareness, according to Eileen Morton, lead investigator, who attended the inquest in Winchester.

She added the report has yet to be put before the health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, before it is published.

“I just hope nobody else has to go through what my daughter did before these plans get approved,” said Mr Smith.

“That would not be fair. They should have been in place years before.

“One time it took the Access and Assessment Team five weeks to see her and, when they did, the nurses said there was nothing more they could do for her. And that was that.”

At the inquest, Mr Smith told members of the trust to “please take this seriously, for the sake of my daughter”.

He added: “Up to now, I have to say, the service is not fit for purpose.”

As reported by the Daily Echo, Southern Health was criticised in a damning report by health watchdog the Care Quality Commission.

The Mazars inquiry, commissioned by NHS England, revealed that of the 10,306 deaths between April 2011 and March 2015, 722 were categorised as unexpected but only 272 had been investigated. This included the deaths of Louise Locke, 44, and Connor Sparrowhawk, 18.

In May last year, Ms Locke was found hanged at her home in Highcliffe, Winchester – a day after her pleas to be be admitted to hospital were turned down.

The trust has said it has now implemented a series of measures to improve the reporting of deaths and has brought in other changes since Ms Locke’s death.

Mr Sparrowhawk, who had learning difficulties, drowned after an epileptic seizure at Slade House, Oxfordshire, in July 2013.

The trust attributed his death to natural causes, but an independent report later found that the he should have been observed while taking his baths.

The report led to anger among relatives of people who died while under Southern Health’s care.

But trust chief executive Katrina Percy has resisted calls for her to resign.

Assistant coroner Karen Harrold recorded a verdict of death by suicide.

Daily Echo:

Main failings the report found:

  • A full risk assessment and management plan was not carried out
  • There is no evidence a care plan had been agreed
  • There was no knowledge of her family’s suicidal history
  • No contact details for sister, her registered carer, were taken
  • A fair access to care assessment was not carried out as they thought her illness was due to her own social state
  • Requests for a meeting with a psychiatrist were turned down on multiple occasions
  • She was asked to self refer, but she had anxiety and would not leave her flat. This was not followed up
  • Despite threatening suicide, she was never diagnosed with severe depression