CALLS have been made for an independent inquiry into Oxfordshire’s mental health provider after two high-profile cases involving its patients.
Oxford Health has been criticised after life prisoner Ian McLean walked out of Littlemore Mental Health Centre and travelled to Poland, where he took his own life, and for its handling of Kauthar Silvera, who murdered her mother days after being discharged from the same place.
Now it has emerged that the clinical director at the high-security Broadmoor Hospital, where Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe is currently serving 20 life sentences, has been brought in to review the McLean escape.
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith and a member of an Oxfordshire health watchdog have called for steps to be taken to restore public confidence.
Susanna Pressel, of the Oxfordshire joint health overview & scrutiny committee, said: “A thorough review of safety practices is needed at Oxford Health.
“An independent review must look at why several things have happened in the recent past, not just this incident (McLean’s escape).
“It seems to be one thing after another and we need to be reassured that Oxford Health will now look after the safety of their patients and the public much better than they have done in the past.
“I will be asking the committee to invite someone from Oxford Health to give us an explanation into what has gone wrong and what they are doing about it.”
Earlier this month, 30-year-old Silvera, of Friar’s Wharf, Oxford was sectioned indefinitely for killing Vittoria Baker last August.
After she was convicted, the trust announced an independent investigation had been launched. The results are yet to be published.
A further internal investigation was launched after McLean escaped but that has now been delayed due to his death.
Last night the trust confirmed Dr Kevin Murray, clinical director at Broadmoor, had been brought in to investigate the case.
Mr Smith said an independent inquiry needed to be looked at following the findings into McLean’s escape.
He said: “As to whether a wider independent enquiry is needed, I think that is something which will need to be looked at when we have seen the report on Mr Mclean's escape.
“There is a real danger of these incidents overshadowing the much good work undertaken by staff at all levels in providing mental and community health services, and shaking public confidence in the trust as a whole.”
Oxford Health, which is responsible for Littlemore and Warneford hospitals, was also criticised after the suicides of two mental health patients in three months exposed failing systems.
Oxford Health spokesman Alistair Duncan said: “In the case of Mr McLean who recently left our hospital and subsequently sadly died, an inquiry is under way that includes the independent scrutiny of the medical director of Broadmoor.
“It is expected to produce its initial report as soon as possible, taking into account the need to include this latest tragic development.
“In all cases of serious incidents, the local area team of NHS England will rigorously review the facts and establish an independent review where it is deemed necessary.”
Mr Duncan said that independent inquiry into Kauthar Silvera’s discharge will report shortly.
MP's previous criticisms
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith, pictured, called for a full review of services at Oxford Health as early as June last year after two mental health patients killed themselves.
Gareth Christian took his own life in November 2011, despite his mental health nurse contacting Oxford Health’s Crisis Team saying he needed help.
Crisis Team refused to help because the request had not come from the patient directly, something Oxford Health said should not have happened.
Four months earlier Graham Kirtland killed himself, despite being referred to the Crisis Team by a GP.
Following the death, the trust changed its policy so that GP referrals would lead to a face-to-face assessment, rather than by telephone.
Profile: Dr Kevin Murray
Oxford Health has brought in Dr Kevin Murray, clinical director at Broadmoor Hospital, to take part in the review of why Ian McLean was able to escape.
Dr Murray, who has been clinical director of the hospital since 2001, is a member of the senior management team and also has a clinical caseload.
He has worked with Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, but blocked his move to a medium security unit last year.
Dr Murray previously worked as a visiting forensic psychiatrist at HMP Wormwood Scrubs and as a consultant forensic psychiatrist at the Three Bridges regional secure unit. Broadmoor Hospital, in Crowthorne, Berkshire, is one of three high-security psychiatric hospitals in England.