Widow criticises HSE for not attending her husband’s inquest
Posted on 24th April 2019 at 22:47
Health body accused of ‘airbrushing’ case where man died after discharge from hospital
The widow of a man who died by suicide has criticised the HSE for not sending a representative to his inquest after a previous hearing revealed that he died less than 24 hours after he was discharged from a hospital emergency department following an attempt to take his own life.
John Broderick (35), of Reaun, Currow, Killarney, Co Kerry, was assessed by a psychiatrist at University Hospital Kerry (UHK) on August 27th, 2018, having presented following an attempt to end his own life.
His inquest in Mallow, Co Cork, heard that he was deemed well enough to leave the hospital and return to work. This was in spite of scoring zero in a test where zero is sad and 10 is happy. He died by suicide the following day, after going to work.
Coroner for North Cork Dr Michael Kennedy had adjourned the inquest last year in order to obtain the anti-bullying policy of Mr Broderick’s employer amid allegations that he had endured bullying at work at the hands of a named individual.
A full hearing was also postponed in order to receive follow-up information on a psychiatric report filed following Mr Broderick’s presentation to hospital the day before his death.
At an inquest hearing in Mallow District Court on Wednesday, Dr Kennedy read out a report submitted by UHK which revealed that Mr Broderick was assessed as having had a passive death wish with no suicidal plan. Mr Broderick had told doctors he did not wish to be admitted to hospital and expressed a desire to return to work the following day.
The inquest was told that all steps were taken by the hospital to manage his care. The inquest was told the patient didn’t meet the criteria for an urgent admission to hospital under the provisions of the Mental Health Act.
UHK said it was possible that Mr Broderick did not make full disclosures about his condition on admission. They stressed the support of the crisis team was given to him and that the crisis nurse contacted him at 11am on August 28th, 2018. However, Dr Kennedy heard that Mr Broderick had died by suicide two hours earlier.
Eimear Griffin, a solicitor representing John Broderick’s widow Sandra Broderick, said she was disappointed at a decision by the HSE not to send a representative to the inquest.
“I am completely disappointed that there is no representative of the HSE here today. Ms Broderick’s motivation in this is that [cases like this] would be prevented in the future.”
Ms Griffin accused the HSE of “airbrushing” the case.
Meanwhile, the inquest also heard a statement from Munster Joinery, where Mr Broderick had been employed. The coroner had written to the company to request their policy on bullying after Ms Broderick had claimed at a previous hearing that her husband had suffered tremendously at work.
Sandra Broderick testified that her husband was bullied by an individual at the Co Cork company and that the alleged incidents involved “mind games” and being “shouted and roared at” in front of his fellow employees. She said her husband had pleaded with the person to “give him a break”.
Ms Broderick said that John had “good and bad days”.
“He could go to work really happy but could come home crying. Sundays were always a tough day because he knew he’d have to go back to Munster Joinery.
“For most of Sunday he would be okay, but when Sunday evening came he would get really withdrawn and fall asleep on the couch so he wouldn’t have to think about it.
“John was bullied and he had been since he started there. He tried to deal with it his own way.”
She said her husband had approached the person allegedly carrying out the bullying and it had stopped, only to resume a week later. Ms Broderick said that the man was “pulling strings” and John was the “puppet”.
Ms Broderick said that her late husband told her that he preferred to be busy rather than waiting at home looking for another job. He was “putting up with it” until he found something else.
Munster Joinery said in a statement that they had never received an allegation of bullying or mistreatment towards John Broderick. They stated that a critical incident centre was set up for staff after the death and that counselling had been made available.
The inquest heard that the company had a policy on bullying in place and that this policy was maintained. Dr Kennedy was also told that Mr Broderick was not directly employed by the firm but was instead a subcontractor.
Dr Kennedy said the evidence of Ms Broderick was very harrowing. He offered his condolences to her and her daughter Grace, saying that she had done everything she could to help John. He added that the death was “traumatic” and “very raw”. A verdict of death by suicide was recorded.
In a statement following the inquest, HSE Cork Kerry Community Healthcare extended their sympathies to the Broderick family.
They stressed that their resource officers for suicide prevention remain available to provide support to the family and community if required.
The HSE said whenever they are asked to assist the Coroner’s Court and inquest process, they do so to the best of their ability.
“In this case, we were asked to submit a report and did so. We were not asked to attend the inquest or advised of the inquest date.”
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