Family says GP's death avoidable

Old County Hall

Old County Hall

First published in News

THE family of a retired GP whose body was found in the Thames said his death could have been avoided if he had received the right care.

Richard Barnett’s wife and three children believe he should not have been allowed to return home so soon after he was sectioned having been deemed a “high risk” of suicide, an inquest heard.

The 70-year-old went missing on Friday, January 24. His body was then discovered off Wharf Road, Shillingford, on Friday, February 28, Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court was told on Wednesday.

A post-mortem examination said he died from drowning and “cold water immersion”.

Mr Barnett, who worked at The Manor Surgery in Headington from 1974- 2008, spent five days in Littlemore Hospital after being sectioned, but was discharged by consultant psychiatrist Dr Robert Chaplin because he did not feel it helped him, the inquest heard.

Dr Chaplin said Mr Barnett, of Baldon Lane, Marsh Baldon, was a “moderate risk” of suicide.

Assistant coroner Nicholas Graham ruled the death as suicide.

He said: “I think there are different and difficult balancing exercises to talk about whether someone should remain in hospital or be allowed to be discharged home.”

He said he did not see any reason for an investigation into Mr Barnett’s care.

A statement prepared by his family, wife Lucy and three children, said: “We feel that if he had received appropriate and adequate care this tragic outcome might have been avoided.”

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