The preventable death of our daughter, Sally, aged 22, as a result of prejudice, clinical negligence and neglect by the NHS and our subsequent fight for truth, accountability and justice
Our daughter, Sally Mays, died on the 25 July 2014, aged 22 years. Hers was an entirely preventable death due to clinical negligence and neglect on the part of Humber NHS Foundation Trust (Humber NHSFT). We, her parents, have decided that the time has come for the circumstances of Sally’s death and the ongoing aftermath, endured by our family and those who loved her, to be fully documented and made available in the public domain. We do this in memory of and as a tribute to our much loved daughter.
Our hope is that those who find themselves in similar circumstances may have the opportunity to benefit in some way from our journey, be that in the knowledge that they are not alone and/or to gain practical information which may inform their own thinking. Our belief is, that what Sally suffered, together with our family’s ongoing nightmare, is not an isolated incident but endemic throughout the NHS and private healthcare in terms of the treatment of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Additionally and importantly, we hope that those who are responsible for the planning, development and delivery of mental health services may consider the content of this site and whether Sally and our experiences are reflected in services to patients and families nationwide. Crucially they need to identify what needs to be done to effect radical improvement to mental health services in the UK.
Regardless of how many investigations are carried out either by Trusts themselves or by regulatory bodies e.g. internal/external reviews, serious incidents, safeguarding, inquests, police, CQC, PHSO, Health & Safety Executive etc. or the rhetoric about the number of “lessons learnt” and “action plans” drawn up, in truth NOTHING will change unless a preventable death triggers thorough investigation and analysis leading to appropriate actions, which are swiftly implemented and regularly monitored and reviewed. The all too familiar “tick box” exercise engaged in by NHS Trusts, following catastrophic deaths, is totally unacceptable. Additionally, no significant sustainable improvements can be made without radical cultural change in terms of the beliefs and attitudes of NHS staff, towards those experiencing mental health issues. The malignant alienation fostered by the application of inappropriate labelling of patients with a variety of diagnostic symptoms including Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)/Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD), creates an inhumane and contagious toxicity amongst many mental health staff and radically discriminates against patients so categorised, excluding many from mental and also, in many cases, physical health care.
Proof of the failure of Trusts to effectively implement change, if proof were needed, is demonstrated all too frequently in the proceedings of Coroner’s courts. In our own area alone, the local trust responsible for mental health services has been called to account for a number of deaths where similar failings to those perpetrated in Sally’s case were repeated. The most recent of these was in December 2018 regarding a death which occurred six months after Sally’s inquest and again involved the abject failings of the Crisis Service and a plethora of almost identical issues. In essence, devastatingly, all that the Trust promised our family following Sally’s death in terms of investigation, lessons learnt, action plans, monitoring and review have amounted to very little indeed, as the same indefensible and entirely avoidable failings have again cost a further life.
The circumstances of Sally’s death and the events of the 72 hours leading up to it are truly horrific. The unconscionable and blatantly cruel treatment of Sally when in extreme distress is beyond our comprehension and an appalling indictment on the care of a very vulnerable young woman and the behaviour of so-called mental health “professionals” who demonstrated a total lack of empathy, compassion or even basic human decency. They breached their own professional codes and shamed their profession.
It is devastatingly ironic, that when we sought help from the Lead Psychotherapist responsible for Sally’s care as to how we might help our daughter, we were told “leave it to the professionals”. On the final afternoon of Sally’s life when her mother raised her serious concerns about Sally’s safety, she was told by a nurse within the Community Mental Health Team, “We are aware of the situation and are dealing with it.” Hindsight only exacerbates the hollowness of this advice.
Navigating this site:
This site is divided into the following sections.
About Sally: Information about who Sally was and her life.
What happened: An outline of what happened to Sally in the final week of her life.
Fight for Truth & Justice: Information about the investigations carried out by Humber NHSFT and Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS), the 8 day Article 2 inquest, the 3 year police investigation into perjury, perverting the course of justice, clinical negligence manslaughter and corporate manslaughter, our experience of Humber NHSFT complaints process and dealings with the PHSO and CPS.
Where are we now? An summary of where we are now and what next.
Tributes to Sally: A collection of comments about Sally.
Disclaimer: The views expressed on this website represent solely the views and opinions of Sally’s family. Nothing contained within it is to be considered medical or legal advice.