A patient’s tragic death at Rampton Hospital in Nottinghamshire has prompted a call for urgent improvements at the high-security psychiatric facility. Tammy Watkins, a 36-year-old patient, died in June 2021 after swallowing a plastic crayon, which caused a perforation in her bowel. An inquest into her death revealed that neglect at the hospital played a significant role in her tragic demise. As a result, the coroner has urged hospital management to take immediate action to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
Ms. Watkins, who had been assessed as being at high risk of self-harm, was using mechanical restraints, including mittens, for her safety. However, hospital staff provided her with a twistable crayon without conducting a proper risk assessment or obtaining approval for its use. When the crayon went missing, no incident report was filed, and no plan was put in place to locate it. Subsequently, Ms. Watkins started experiencing symptoms related to complications from swallowing the crayon and reported feeling it inside her. Shockingly, she was not taken to the hospital until she claimed to have swallowed a toothbrush. Despite an x-ray not revealing any foreign bodies, her condition worsened, and opportunities to seek medical attention were missed. Tragically, Ms. Watkins suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away.
The recently released coroner’s report highlights the failure of medical staff to recognize a deteriorating patient as a key factor in Ms. Watkins’ death. The coroner expressed concern not only about this incident but also about other deaths of ill patients under the care of the Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Urgent action is now being called for at the highest level to bring about meaningful change in the quality of physical healthcare across all secure settings where the trust provides services.
Following the inquest, Ms. Watkins’ family expressed their disappointment with the hospital staff, pointing out the numerous mistakes made and the clear indications that she required proper hospital care. They hope that this investigation serves as a wake-up call for all institutions responsible for the well-being of vulnerable individuals. The family urges these establishments to prioritize safeguarding and implement effective systems to prevent avoidable deaths.
The Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has acknowledged multiple failings in Ms. Watkins’ care, accepting that these failures more than minimally contributed to her tragic death. Ifti Majid, the trust’s CEO, extended sincere condolences to the family and expressed deep remorse for the inadequate quality of care provided. The trust is currently reviewing the jury’s findings and the coroner’s concerns and will take appropriate measures to continuously improve the experiences of patients under their care.
This incident comes in the aftermath of Rampton Hospital receiving an “inadequate” rating from the Care Quality Commission during an inspection conducted in June and July. In light of the coroner’s report, the trust has been given 56 days to develop an action plan to address the issues highlighted. Urgent steps need to be taken to ensure the safety and well-being of all patients in their care.