Patient murdered neighbour after hospital gave ‘virtually no warning’ of his release

PUBLISHED: 16:00 21 June 2018

The Cygnet Hospital in Kewstoke.

The Cygnet Hospital in Kewstoke.

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A mental health hospital near Weston-super-Mare has changed its discharge procedures after one of its patients murdered a neighbour on the day of his release.

Jeffrey Barry. Picture: Avon and Somerset Constabulary. Jeffrey Barry. Picture: Avon and Somerset Constabulary.

Jeffrey Barry was released from the Cygnet Hospital, in Kewstoke, against experts’ wishes and stabbed his neighbour 70 times in a ‘frenzied attack’. Barry, who was aged 56 at the time, has been sentenced to 23 years in jail.

A safeguarding review published today (Thursday), assesses how Kamil Ahmad came to be murdered in the supported living accommodation they shared in Bristol, run by the Milestones Trust.

Barry was detained at the Kewstoke hospital under the mental health act in June 2016 after he made a series of threats to kill Mr Ahmad and other tenants. Barry swiftly made an application to review his detention.

A tribunal, held eight days after he was admitted, agreed to release him, against the wishes of the psychiatrist caring for him in Kewstoke. Staff tried to encourage Barry to remain in hospital, but he refused.

Key agencies affected by the decision were not informed until eight days later – the day before Barry was due to be discharged. It meant adequate plans were not in place for his return to the Milestone Trust’s accommodation.

The report said the hospital could have ‘taken more responsibility for effective communication’ with the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership and Milestones Trust.

The Milestones Trust in particular was given ‘virtually no warning’ of Barry’s discharge and could not take steps to prevent him returning to his flat.

The report said: “Even fundamental details such as changes to his medication were not discussed and the crisis of his accommodation was not properly understood by the hospital.”

A Cygnet Health Care spokesman said the report highlighted its need to address discharge procedures. Its new measures include more staff training and policies for patient discharge forms.

The spokesman said: “These measures we believe ensure our discharge regime is among the best in the sector and our patients receive safe handover to the most appropriate accommodation providers, which will have been fully briefed on their needs.

“The care of our patients, some of the most vulnerable of our society, is and will always remain our absolute top priority.

“We are committed to continuously improving our procedures, protocols and training, which we recognise are all critical to providing the highest standards of healthcare.”

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