Diane Lyes, the mother of Liam Joseph Lyes-Watson, with a picture of Liam in blue is on a holiday to Shetland

‘More should have been done’: Mental health trust apologizes to family of ‘gentle giant’ who took his own life

Diane Lyes, the mother of Liam Joseph Lyes-Watson, with a photo of Liam in blue is on holiday in Shetland
Diane Lyes, the mother of Liam Joseph Lyes-Watson, with a photo of Liam in blue is on holiday in Shetland

Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has responded to the suicide of Liam Joseph Lyes-Watson, 26, after a coroner ordered a rarely used ‘prevention of future deaths’ notice forcing the trust to respond.

Liam’s mother Diane Lyes and her partner Andrew Heaton suffered the agony of watching Liam’s mental health deteriorate as he lived at their home in Trefonen, near Oswestry.

He had been particularly upset by strangers who ridiculed him at an event in Chester in 2021 over the make-up he used to conceal a birthmark on his face.

Liam Joseph Lyes-Watson

Ms Lyes said: “He was in crisis but they said no. I told them the day he died that he was going to die then.

“At a minimum what they should have done was come out to see him, but they said he wasn’t engaging with them. It wasn’t like he was a little depressed today. , the risk was high that he would kill himself. He had the means to do it, he did not answer but they just left him.”

Ms Lyes says following the death of her son she had to give up her own job working with people with Huntingdon’s disease in Shropshire and mid Wales because of the health element mind associated with it.

“I’m not strong enough to support people anymore,” she said. Liam’s father, Andrew Watson, died when he was just two years old.

Ms Lyes’ other son, Niall, 18, was incredibly close to his brother, and his stepfather Andrew Heaton, had also cried at his workplace, Ms Lyes said.

“My partner summed it up for me. He said, ‘I felt even worse after talking to them.’

Diane Lyes, mother of Liam Joseph Lyes-Watson, Diane Lyes, sons: Niall Heaton and Liam Watson and the dog Zita.

She added: “Nothing is going to bring Liam back but when the coroner asked them if they would do things the same way, without hindsight, they said yes. I will take up the matter with the relevant mediator to get answers to the Questions.

“I don’t think I’ll ever reach closure – they haven’t made it easy for those who have been left behind. We are planning an event next year to do something more positive, but there is too many pending details at the moment that are positive doesn’t seem fair.”

Ms Lyes described Liam as ‘a big, big, gentle giant’ who hadn’t been fazed by his birthmark when he went to school in Berriew or when they moved to Trefonen in the eight years old. He then went to Llangollen High School before studying Economics and Finance at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland where he graduated with a first class degree.

“He was working as a finance graduate and wanted to work in stocks and shares,” she said. “He was very good with numbers from a young age.”

Liam Joseph Lyes-Watson

In college, he had to overcome mental health issues. When he returned to the family home, he was traveling to Chester to have his hair cut rather than risk seeing his birthmark there.

And he also had problems forming relationships with women because he feared they would see the birthmark when his “camouflage” wore off. He wouldn’t go swimming for the same reason.

Following an inquest on July 19, 2022, Shropshire Senior Coroner John Ellery issued a notice preventing future deaths on the trust after agreeing it was appropriate to consider what happened during phone calls made on October 20 and 25 of last year. He had concluded that Mr Lyes-Watson’s death was a suicide, with the medical cause of death recorded as fatal opioid toxicity.

Mr Ellery said: “The inquest heard that Liam had suffered mental health issues in the weeks before his death. He and his mother and then his stepfather contacted the Access Team on the 20th and October 25, 2021.

“Following the second phone call from Liam’s father-in-law, the call handler said that without Liam’s consent they could not act and if the situation was serious they should call the emergency services as they see fit. had done previously on October 20, 2021.”

He added: “During the inquest, the evidence has revealed areas of concern. In my view, there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken.”

He had four areas of concern; that the call handler on the second occasion was untrained “and needed to take professional advice from a colleague, which colleague did not then speak directly with the caller”.

He was also concerned about the ‘apparent general response that they could not discuss the matter with the caller but they could extract information from him’ and said ‘more should have been done’.

Neil Carr, chief executive of Stafford-based Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘I would like to extend my deepest condolences to Liam’s family.

“After Liam’s death, the Trust conducted a thorough and detailed investigation to ensure that we learn from this tragic incident. I can confirm that the Access Team have put in place additional staff training and supervision strengthened by its call handlers.

“Significant work has taken place to reinforce the importance of the concerns raised by family members. When these concerns are raised, they are addressed by the appropriate clinical member of the shift staff and action taken accordingly.

“I can confirm that phone calls to the access service are recorded for quality and assurance purposes and can be retrieved within 30 days. In the future, we will use these recordings to access call information when serious incidents are reported. »

In a more detailed response seen by the Shropshire Star, the trust told the coroner that “the call handler has completed a stress and resilience course to help them understand how to manage their own emotional responses to difficult calls received during their work”.

Training has also been updated and corrected, they say.

“We reviewed this case with the shift coordinators and agreed that Liam should have been referred to the crisis team for them to make the decision to take further action,” they added.

“We recognize that the shift coordinator should have spoken to Mr. Heaton and listened to his concerns and those of Liam’s mother. We apologize for this omission and learning of this missed opportunity has been shared with the team for s ensure that all attempts are made to resume service. users who opt out.”

On the recording of the phone calls, they said: “The Trust and the Investigator apologize for erroneously stating that calls to the Access Team are not being recorded.

“All calls are recorded and retained for auditing and quality assurance purposes and retained by the company providing the service for 30 days.

“The trust has asked the company to consider whether it can access the recording in question and will consider whether the calls can be kept for longer.

“Going forward, it has been agreed that when an unexpected death is reported, the affected call will be immediately retrieved and reviewed as part of the investigation process.”

But the trust’s response adds: “Our health IT department has confirmed that we are unable to retrieve the specific calls related to this case due to exceeding the storage period for these records.

“Recorded calls are automatically deleted after 30 days and cannot be retrieved. We have changed our process and following notification of a serious incident within 30 days of contact with MPFT, the team manager Access will retrieve calls related to the case and secure them for further investigation.”

> If you have been touched by this story, you can call Samaritans free of charge on 116 123 or visit samaritans.org.

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