A ‘talented’ Barnsley teenager has died after a tragic act gone horribly wrong

A Barnsley teenager who was found unconscious in her room at Kendray Hospital had no intention of killing herself, an inquest has heard.

Lauren Hawcroft was just weeks away from moving into permanent, supported accommodation when she was found by staff on the evening of December 13, 2020.

She died in hospital two days later, on December 15, with the cause of death confirmed as hypoxic brain injury.

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But Deputy Coroner Ms Rawden today (Monday January 31) concluded that Lauren’s death was the result of an intentional act that ‘went wrong’.

Concerns have also been raised about the effectiveness of a door alarm system at the hospital.

An inquest heard that Lauren – who had been diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder – had required hospital treatment since she was 14.

The court heard she had a history of self-harm and said she heard voices in her head telling her to “do nasty things to herself and others”.

The 18-year-old has also suffered from flashbacks and nightmares and overdosed on prescription drugs in the past.

During lengthy evidence, Dr Piyush Prashar, clinical lead for acute care at Kendray Hospital in Barnsley, said Lauren was admitted as a ‘volunteer patient’ on September 1, 2020.

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It follows the 18-year-old was rushed to Barnsley District General Hospital after taking a ‘significant overdose’.

Dr Prashar described Lauren as ‘very institutionalised’ and explained how she was kept on ‘level 3 supervision’ when she was first admitted, meaning she was controlled by a member of staff every 15 minutes.

This was later changed to Level 4, meaning Lauren was visited by a member of staff every hour.

Dr Prashar said the hospital had identified Lauren as having a “static risk for long-term self-harm”, adding that she had previously revealed to staff that she had done it to “take control of her own body”.

Concerns had also been raised about Lauren using ligatures on multiple occasions in the past.

But he said staff members, who held regular meetings with Lauren during her stay, were confident she was at low risk of suicide.

The inquest heard how she was due to move to new accommodation in Doncaster after Christmas (2020) and nurses reported she was feeling ‘nervous but excited’ about the next chapter in her life.

Dr Prashar told the court that Lauren appeared “bright and engaging” when she last met him on December 8. “There were no red flags in terms of mental health symptoms at our last meeting,” he said.

The court then heard from a nurse and a support worker who worked in the ward where Lauren was staying.

A nurse described Lauren as ‘very talented’ and ‘really bright’ and said she thought the teenager would ‘thrive’ in her new accommodation.

The inquest heard how Lauren phoned her grandmother shortly before she was found unanswered in her room on December 13 and felt she was receiving the ‘silent treatment’ from other members of the unity.

The court was told a door alarm system sounded around 7.35pm, but staff could not identify exactly where the alert came from. “It didn’t detail the area we were to respond to – or in which ward,” a nurse said in testimony.

The court heard there was a delay of about ten minutes between when the alarm was first triggered and when staff members identified it had been triggered in Lauren’s bedroom.

After forcing entry into the room, staff found Lauren lying unresponsive on the floor. They administered CPR and she was taken to hospital, the court heard.

Lauren died of her injuries on December 15, 2020.

Addressing the court, a nurse said: “In my opinion, I didn’t feel like she was trying to end her life. I feel like Lauren felt that the system of alarm was in perfect working order.

“I think she thought the doors were in working order and she thought a member of staff would find her in time – that’s my opinion.”

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A support worker, who was also working in the department that evening, agreed. She told the court: ‘I think she thought she would be found and then she would spend time with the staff.’

Concluding the inquest, Deputy Coroner Ms Rawden said the delay by staff caring for Lauren “may have caused or contributed to her death”.

“It is likely that his act was a way of expressing his emotional distress rather than taking his own life,” Ms Rawden said. “I think Lauren committed suicide – I don’t think she intended to.

“I think she did what she did with the intention of the staff coming to her aid and ultimately saving her. It was a deliberate act gone wrong.”

Speaking to Lauren’s family, Ms Rawden said: “Can I say how really, really sorry I am. I can’t imagine what the last year was like for you.

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“I’m sorry it took so long for this to be heard. We should have heard this inquiry before today.”

Nurse McDougall, who led an independent investigation into the serious incident at the hospital, said he made 12 recommendations to the trust after Lauren’s death.

The trust said it accepted all 12 recommendations and acted on them.

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