Medical neglect at Weston hospital unit played role in death of mental health patient – jury

Abs Benelghazi. Picture: Irwin Mitchell/Family

Abs Benelghazi. Picture: Irwin Mitchell/Family - Credit: Archant

A grieving family will ‘always be left wondering’ after a jury ruled neglect by staff played a role in a patient’s death at a hospital unit in Weston.

Abdelslam Benelghazi was found unconscious at Juniper Ward - a mental health unit run by Avon and Wiltshire Mental Heath Partnership (AWP) - and an inquest has ruled the 37-year-old's death was influenced by staff 'failures'.

Mr Benelghazi, known to friends as Abs and Abdi, died on December 9, 2017 after a diagnosis of schizo-affective disorder and a history of drug misuse.

A jury at Avon Coroners Court, in Flax Bourton, ruled on October 9 the cause of death was an 'accident contributed to by neglect', concluding increased dosages of methadone beyond 'normal limits' coupled with the continued use of clonazepam played a pivotal role.

Jurors also found staff failed to formulate an 'adequate' pharmacological care plan' and respond to signs the patient was showing signs over-sedation before his death.

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A jury spokesman said: "We conclude the inappropriate prescribing of combined medications alongside the failure to adequately monitor and escalate concerns significantly contributed to the death of Mr Benelghazi."

Mr Benelghazi's brother Samir said: "The inquest has been incredibly difficult.

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"Hearing about the events that unfolded in the lead up to my brother's death has been particularly hard. However, it is something we had to do.

"Our family was determined to honour Abs' memory by establishing the facts as to why he died.

"Nothing can bring my brother back and we will always be left wondering 'what if?'"

Dr Sarah Constantine, medical director at AWP, said the organisation was 'deeply sorry' for its errors.

She added: "We fully accept the findings of the coroner and recognised before the inquest that we did not act in accordance to best practice in all of the care provided to Abdi.

"We are committed to improving things for the better for our patients and to ensure a tragedy like this does not recur.

"We are sorry that this does not undo what happened to Abdi and the impact it has had on his family."

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