Woman found hanged at Sunderland hospital had self-harmed twice the day she died

The entrance to Cherry Knowle Hospital at Ryhope.
The entrance to Cherry Knowle Hospital at Ryhope.
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A WOMAN found hanged in a Sunderland mental hospital was only the subject of hourly checks despite having self-harmed twice that day, an inquest heard.

Paige Bell was admitted to Cherry Knowle’s East Willows ward after she was dramatically pulled to safety by a policewoman from the wrong side of the railings of Wearmouth Bridge on August 6.

The 20-year-old was locked in a communal area on the East Willows ward when she gained access to another room and was later discovered hanging by a member of staff.

She died eight days later from oxygen starvation to the brain.

After initially being admitted, sectioned and then assessed by staff at Cherry Knowle, Paige was at first closely checked on by nursing staff - but that was later downgraded to general observation, meaning staff would check on her once every hour.

Later that morning, Paige was found in her room trying to cut her arms with a small piece of metal just a few centimetres long.

She was treated by a doctor and locked out of her bedroom on the ward for her own safety, but hours later, in a bathroom, she was discovered trying to claw at the same wounds with a hair grip.

At an inquest into her death at Sunderland Coroner’s Court, Dr Ashok Sharma, a consultant psychiatrist at the hospital, said that the medical team in charge of Paige’s treatment, of which he was part, had decided to reduce how often she was being observed on the day that she hanged herself.

“I was aware that Paige had been under detention from 3am and that after coming to the ward she had been sitting quietly, she was not violent or aggressive,” said Dr Sharma.

“She was not displaying any kind of hostile behviour.

“I know that she suffered from emotionally unstable personality disorder and did not like a restricted, hostile environment. I felt that if we tried to prolong the restraint aspects of her care, it’s likely that would become more physically charged up.

“We were trying to normalise the situation, afford her more freedom and thereby promote a degree of autonomy and participation which would be more beneficial to her.”

Paige’s named nurse, Nicola Monaghan, also gave evidence at the hearing.

Tearfully, Ms Monaghan said: “We knew that least restrictive option was best for her.

“We wanted Paige to have a happy life. We wanted her to learn to be able to manage.

“We wanted her to be responsible for herself.”

The alarm was raised at 4pm when a nurse saw knotted bedding over the top of a bedroom door.

Paige was taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital but later died.

The hearing, which is expected to last for two weeks, was adjourned yesterday afternoon.

Dr Sharma was expected to give further evidence today.