Mind Press Release

Immediate release – Tuesday 5th February 2002



A coroner’s inquest held in Aylesbury yesterday recorded an open verdict contributed to by neglect on the death of a 35-year-old woman, Belinda Reynolds, who was found hanged with her shoelaces in the toilet of a psychiatric hospital in Buckinghamshire last year.

Belinda’s father Chris Reynolds, who is a Trustee of national mental health charity Mind, was at the court hearing and spoke of the coroner’s decision:

"The coroner recorded an open verdict contributed to by neglect and blamed Belinda’s death on the system of care rather than individual staff. We agree with an open verdict as while Belinda often spoke of suicide when she was a patient, there was strong evidence that she had clearly planned to be found before serious harm had been done - but unfortunately she was not.

Belinda’s tragic death, which we are sure could have been avoided with better care, is a devastating blow to the family.

It is about time that the NHS woke up to the fact that providing inadequate or inappropriate treatment can make psychiatric patients worse. Not only do the patients and their families suffer but also the long-term costs of treating them will often be much higher than getting it right first time. We will continue to work, harder than ever, for more effective mental health services."

Mental health charity Mind said today that Belinda’s death once again demonstrates the vital need for adequate risk assessment for psychiatric patients and called on the Government to introduce national guidance on risk assessment as soon as possible. Mind also wants to see staff spend more time with ‘at risk’ patients.

Speaking today Mind’s Chief Executive Richard Brook said: "Our sympathies are with Belinda’s family at this sad time. Once again this case raises serious questions about the adequacy of risk assessment procedures in psychiatric hospitals and highlights the need for significant progress still to be made in reducing inpatient suicides – a key target of Government."

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NOTES TO EDITORS: For more information contact Mind’s Press Office on 020 8522 1743.

Belinda’s family and friends are very distressed by what has happened, and they ask that their wish for privacy be respected. However, to assist the press, the family has set up a web-site, which has details of the events leading up to Belinda’s death and a statement about the inquest and verdict.