A MOTHER has blamed a chronic lack of mental health funding for allowing her schizophrenic son to 'fall through the cracks' in the run up to his suicide.

Dianne Martin claims her youngest son Leon Gledhill, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia for more than 20 years, should never have been discharged by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust back to the care of his GP but that his family's pleas fell on deaf ears.

Mr Gledhill was found dead by police barricaded in his Crescent Road flat in Oxford on February 3 last year.

The 44-year-old, who had to be sectioned in 2004, had been receiving treatment, including anti-psychotic drugs and meetings with a mental health team, but this was handed over to his GP in June, 2017.

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His mother said he was seen by the GP once in 20 months and the lack of structured support allowed him to 'spiral downwards', eventually stopping taking his medication and becoming increasingly paranoid.

An internal review of the events leading up to Mr Gledhill's death found Oxford Health, which provides mental health services across the county, acted appropriately and in accordance with his wishes.

His mother however, said she believed her son's death was 'preventable' and that had he not been 'dumped' by Oxford Health he would likely still be alive.

Oxford Mail:

Dianne Martin with her son Leon Gledhill

She said: "Being supervised by the mental health team with a care plan, and having a care co-ordinator with whom he would meet about once a month, gave him a measure of stability.

"The likely consequence of Leon being discharged was that he would spiral downwards. Proper regard was not taken of our views about how ill he was and how he would cope."

The 69-year-old, who lives in North Hinksey, added: "For more than 20 years, Leon had no remission from paranoid schizophrenia. He never gained any insight about his delusions and fears. Those delusions and fears were real to him and he could not be persuaded otherwise.

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"Leon lived independently and, quite rightly, he could make decisions about his daily life. But, he was not in a good position to assess whether it would be in his best interest to be discharged.

"The mental health team should have protected him from making a very bad decision in this regard."

She said following his discharge, the NHS 'had very little to offer him' and he fell 'through the cracks' and into a 'black hole'.

The Oxford Health report, which was sent to Mrs Martin in November, denied there had been any issues with discharge.

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It said: "The decision to discharge Leon at the care programme approach meeting on June 21, 2017 met the required standard.

"The authors found that there had been significant planning leading up to the discharge of Leon from services over the course of a year."

The report noted there was a record of Mrs Martin feeling 'uneasy' about the decision but the discharge had already been postponed once to take these feelings into account.

It added: "All concerns raised by Leon’s parents were taken into consideration by the consultant when discharging Leon."

Oxford Mail:

Mrs Martin, a retired lecturer for the Open University, said the report was a 'complete vindication of the system', adding: "A system that they had adhered to and therefore everything was fine. But it wasn't and isn't."

She said she believed a lack of funding played a role in the decision to discharge her son and she had seen similar cases during her voluntary role with Oxfordshire Mind, adding: "Underfunding means rationing and difficulty in accessing services.

"An early discharge of a patient, which is not justified on clinical grounds, is shameful."

The issue of cost being a factor in the discharge was denied by Oxford Health in the report, which stated: "Decisions around patient discharge are based on clinical assessment of the patient’s presentation, needs and level of risk, taking into account the patient’s level of functioning in the community and the patient’s wishes."

A statement from the trust said: "Oxford Health extends its deepest condolences to Mrs Martin for the loss of her son Leon and we are sorry that she was unhappy with our report.

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"Our investigation set out to review practices and to answer in detail her questions surrounding her son’s discharge into his GP’s care 11 months before his tragic death."

It added: "While Oxford Health does not monitor discharged patients, we have taken a decision to double the time period that re-referrals can be accepted from six months to 12 months.

"We remain committed to working with Mrs Martin and encourage her to take up our offer to meet our senior team if she is not satisfied or has outstanding questions or queries."

Mrs Martin said she would be taking her complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and was campaigning for more mental health funding as well as better supervision for patients who are discharged.

If you've been affected by any of the issues in this article and need support, please contact the Samaritans on 116123.