Probe launched into death of mental health patient, 26, who was ‘over-sedated’ in ‘toxic’ unit

By Staff 10 Min Read

Jake Llewellyn was restrained and sedated after he was involved in a violent incident at Forth Valley Royal Hospital near Falkirk, it is said, and the young man later died

Police are investigating the death of a young man at a mental health facility.

Jake Llewellyn, 26, passed away eight days after being admitted to Forth Valley Royal Hospital near Falkirk. It is alleged he was given too big a dose of sedatives to calm him down after being restrained.

A whistleblower said Jake, a student, was restrained and sedated after he was involved in a violent incident at the hospital. The source shared their concerns about safeguarding at the facility, which, with more than 850 beds, was Scotland’s largest ever NHS construction project at the time when it opened in 2010.

“Jake was admitted unwell and was violent. He was restrained very forcefully and left on a restraint pod for hours while being sedated with injections. He was meant to be on 2:1 ­observations and despite showing signs of over-sedation and respiratory issues, he was left by the staff watching him until he went into respiratory arrest and stopped breathing. This is currently being investigated,” the whistleblower said.

Police Scotland confirmed it is investigating Jake’s death on May 17 last year, eight days after he was admitted. Last night, Lib Dem leader and health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said the allegations were “some of the worst I have ever heard in terms of failures of care in mental health within our NHS”. He said there needs to be “an immediate and comprehensive ­investigation”.

He added: “My thoughts are with the people in Forth Valley who are not getting the mental health care they need and their families.” Student Jake, 26, died of a heart attack in the intensive psychiatric care unit of the hospital.

Jake was bipolar and had struggled with his condition for years. In 2016, he was admitted to hospital and assaulted a doctor, believing in his mental state that he was under attack himself.

The whistleblower said: “Due to this there was a massive stigma towards this man despite when he was well and in other wards afterwards he was very ­articulate and regretful of his actions.”

Jake was a “very gentle soul” according to people who knew him and was admired as a poet. He loved the outdoors, revelling in mountain climbing and cold water swimming. Hundreds of messages on a GoFundMe page to pay for his funeral spoke about his kindess and talent.

One message read: “Jake, you loved me at my darkest and gave me hope. Thank you for being such a wonderful human. I am truly humbled to have had the honour of being your friend.”

Another friend wrote: “I will never forget the joy and love you brought to every room you walked into. You deserve the peace and calm that you offered to all you met.”

It is understood his family are still awaiting NHS Forth Valley’s Serious Adverse Event Review (SAER) into his death. Daily Record approached Jake’s family but they said: “We do not wish to comment at this time.”

The whistleblower alleges Jake’s death is one of a number of serious incidents at the mental health unit at Forth Valley Royal Hospital. They said: “You would find a number of deaths within the last year of suicidal patients not being admitted to the mental health wards in Forth Valley due to bias of being drug users, ­personality disorders or ‘for prison’ and then killing themselves that same day. There are patients having been admitted to the ward and not being searched appropriately and killing themselves on the ward.”

The whistleblower, who asked not to be identified because they fear they would lose their job, told how one man was found dead after a failure to monitor him. They added: “He clearly had not been checked at all through the night.”

And they claimed another man turned away by the hospital at the end of February had sparked a probe. They said: “The ward one locked unit refused to take a psychotic man in and he then died less than 24 hours later in custody.”

The whistleblower said they felt compelled to speak out about the “toxic nature” within the unit. They added: “I am reporting this to you in the hope the culture of allowing this to happen to people can be seen and for there to be a change within these wards.”

A police spokeswoman said: “On Thursday, May 18, 2023, police received a report of the sudden death of a 26-year-old man in Forth Valley Royal Hospital, which took place the previous evening. An investigation into the ­circumstances around his death is ongoing. A report has been submitted to the procurator fiscal.”

A spokeswoman from NHS Forth Valley said they were committed to providing high quality mental health services. She insisted: “Anyone who requires ­emergency mental health care is seen by our Mental Health Acute Assessment and Treatment Service (MHAATS), which operates 24/7 from Forth Valley Royal Hospital.

“All new patients receive a ­comprehensive clinical assessment where risk is assessed by an experienced mental health professional. Patients who require an urgent ­assessment can also be seen by local community mental health and substance use services.

“If, following assessment, it is not clinically appropriate for an individual to be admitted to hospital, they would receive a customised care plan with details of follow-up arrangements and advice on what to do if their condition worsens.” She said reviews are carried out in a range of situations including where someone has died in unexpected circumstances.

She added: “Families are involved in these reviews to ensure they have the opportunity to ask questions, examine the findings and hear details of any action taken in response.

“The outcomes of SAERs are shared with local staff to share learning and support improvements. We would also cooperate fully with any police investigations or other external inquiries.

“We continue to invest in staff training and development and work with local service users and their families to further improve their experience.”

For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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