Stevenage mum demands answers from NHS bosses over loss of Francesca, 27

PUBLISHED: 07:02 16 July 2018 | UPDATED: 17:17 16 July 2018

Francesca Barrow, who tragically lost her life in May 2017. Picture: Carmel Barrow

Francesca Barrow, who tragically lost her life in May 2017. Picture: Carmel Barrow

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A Stevenage mum has demanded answers from NHS bosses after her daughter tragically lost her life following a battle with mental illness, aged just 27.

Francesca Barrow's horse-drawn hearse ahead of her funeral in Stevenage. Picture: Courtesy of Carmel BrownFrancesca Barrow's horse-drawn hearse ahead of her funeral in Stevenage. Picture: Courtesy of Carmel Brown

Carmel Brown’s daughter Francesca Barrow, whose mental health diagnoses included borderline personality disorder, died on May 27 last year after taking an overdose.

Carmel insists her daughter did not intend to take her own life, and overdosed as a cry for help after having adverse side effects to medication she was prescribed.She has called the chain of events that led to her death “farcical”.

Concerns were raised last year by the Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust in an internal review – and last month a coroner in Kettering recorded an open verdict, saying there was not enough evidence to determine whether Francesca intended to take her own life.

Now Carmel is fighting to get Francesca’s medical notes from the NHS trust’s adult community mental health unit at Saffron Ground in Stevenage, and help ensure the same fate doesn’t befall other families.

Francesca Barrow's horse-drawn hearse ahead of her funeral in Stevenage. Picture: Courtesy of Carmel BrownFrancesca Barrow's horse-drawn hearse ahead of her funeral in Stevenage. Picture: Courtesy of Carmel Brown

“She just wanted to be listened to,” Carmel told the Comet.

“She didn’t know where to turn. They said she was happy on her medication, but that was not the case at all. She was practically begging them to help.

“We want her actual medical notes from Saffron Ground. What they were saying in the coroner’s court doesn’t tally.”

The NHS trust’s internal review into Francesca’s case records that she told medical staff about suicidal thoughts at least 11 times from January 2016 onwards, and tried to overdose at least four occasions – including once just two weeks before she died.

Carmel was not told of this incident until after Francesca’s death, and wants to know why.

“In the medical profession, don’t you tell the next of kin?” she said. “There should be a law.

“I just want to know what they class as a suicide risk, because something needs to change. They told the inquest they wouldn’t have done anything differently – so they’d have let her die again.”

Asked to comment on Carmel’s concerns, the NHS trust offered condolences to Francesca’s family and said its internal investigation had “identified some areas of learning” for the future.

Francesca, who was born in Hitchin, also lived in Manchester and Letchworth before the family moved to Stevenage.

Francesca’s family have started a mental wellness campaign in her memory called Friends Raising Awareness Now, or FRAN. The aim is to fund a room in Francesca’s memory at the Stevenage branch of mental health charity Mind.

Donate at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/carmel-brown-2.

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