Beth Matthews collapsed in front of staff at a psychiatric hospital after telling them it was protein powder
Beth Matthews, 26, collapsed in front of hospital staff after telling them it was protein powder. She had been detained under the Mental Health Act and transferred to The Priory’s Cheadle Royal psychiatric hospital in Stockport for ‘specialist therapy’.
The hearing was told Beth took took the ‘poisonous’ substance, which the Manchester Evening News is not naming, after she opened a package bought on the internet. Beth ‘quickly became unwell’ at around 1.15pm on March 21 last year and paramedics were called.
She suffered a cardiac arrest and was rushed to Wythenshawe Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 3.55pm. The inquest heard that Beth, from the village of Menheniot near Liskeard in Cornwall, had suffered with mental health from an early age and was diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder.
She suffered severe injuries in a failed suicide attempt after jumping from a bridge in April 2019, the coroner told the jury of six women and five men women hearing the case at South Manchester Coroner’s Court.
Her injuries caused ‘significant long-term pain and disability’, Assistant Coroner Andrew Bridgman told them opening the case. In 2021 she suffered a ‘further deterioration of her mental health’ and was detained under the Mental Health Act at a hospital in Cornwall.
Then in November 2021 she was transferred to The Priory in Cheadle for specialist Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), which is where she was a patient at the time of her death in March of the following year.
In a statement read to the court, Beth’s mother Jane Matthews said her daughter was a ‘bright and vivacious girl’ who would ‘light up the lives of everyone she met’.
Ms Matthews described Beth, who she said was ‘proud to call herself a Cornish girl’, as ‘caring, ‘intelligent’ and articulate’ and said she had a ‘quick sense of humour’.
She was rushed to Wythenshawe Hospital but sadly died the hearing was told (Image: Manchester Evening News)
She was a talented sailor who won ‘lots of trophies’ and competed in the renowned Fast Net race aged just 15 as well as becoming a member of the Royal Yacht club.
Keen musician Beth played both the guitar and the piano and had a number of pets including her ‘beloved’ cat Sparkles.
Ms Matthews said she ‘never reached her potential due to the mental illness which overshadowed her later years’. However, she said “People were attracted to her personality” which was evidenced by the “huge Twitter following she gained”.
“She touched the lives of so many people,” Ms Matthews added. “And as a result she was able to help those who reached out to her.”
Giving evidence, Beth’s former partner Matthew Parkinson said he first met Beth in around 2014 when they worked together at a watersports centre and that they bought a house together in 2017.
He said in the early part of their relationship she was very ‘protective’ of her mental health and would ‘put a smile on and carry on.’
However, he said as it progressed her problems became ‘more noticeable.’ He said following her fall from the bridge in 2019 she was ‘in pain every day’.
He said two years on, she believed she ‘wasn’t going to make any more recovery from those injuries.’ And he said she ‘reacted very, very negatively’.
Mr Parkinson said: “I think it was that night or maybe the following night following the two-year mark, that her mental health declined massively. She sort of gave up all hope really.”
He said whilst Beth was at The Priory in Cheadle she broke off their relationship before ‘changing her mind’ and ‘asking him to reconsider’.
He said in March last year she ‘said some unpleasant things’ but said it was his intention ‘to get our relationship back together when she got out of The Priory’, adding ‘I thought that she would want to do that too despite what she had said before.’
The inquest heard on March 15 she attempted to call Mr Parkinson 41 times in less than an hour and that she followed it up with a WhatsApp message in which she said she was ‘completely heartbroken.’ There was also a further message on March 19 to which Mr Parkinson said he didn’t recall if he responded to.
He said lots of his phone conversations with Beth around that time were ‘negative’ where she would be telling him about’ incidents’ which he said included ‘attempting to abscond, not eating or drinking, that sort of thing.’ ‘It got to the stage where it felt like it was every other day’ he said.
In a statement read to the court, Emergency Medical Technician Kate Barnes from North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) said she was called to a ‘category one incident’ at the hospital at 1.36pm on March 21.
She said when she arrived staff advised her that Miss Matthews had had ‘a package delivered which contained (the substance) which she had opened in front of them and managed to consume’.
“When I questioned how the incident had happened, they advised me they had questioned what the package was prior to Miss Matthews opening it to which she responded she had ordered some protein powder to the unit,” Ms Barnes said.
She said the staff told her ‘patients were allowed to have parcels delivered to the unit but they had to be opened in front of staff, at arm’s length, and were usually opened in the communal area’.
Ms Barnes said they told her Miss Matthews ‘managed to open and consume an unknown amount’ of the substance which was in a ‘small plastic, screw top container the type tablets would normally be held in’.
Her NWAS colleague Christopher Bauer said he understood the substance was in ‘tablet/powder form’ and that the container ‘had foreign writing on it’. Dr Susan Kirk, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Wythenshawe Hospital detailed the lifesaving efforts which included the giving of an antidote.
In her statement, she said ‘the paramedics gave us the information that she was an inpatient at The Priory and that she had taken an overdose of (the substance) that she had bought on the internet.’ She said in her opinion Beth suffered a cardiac arrest due to ‘poisoning’ from the substance.
Following a post-mortem, pathologist Dr Andrew Yates said he believed her cause of death was 1A) Methemoglobinemia caused by 1B) ‘poisoning’ of the substance.
Dave Baxter, a specialist in ‘hazardous materials’ at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) said in a statement he attended the Fern Unit at The Priory on the evening of March 21 and tested the remnants of the substance, but said ‘no specialist clean up was required’.
The family are represented by Stephen Jones with Maya Ravindran acting on behalf of The Priory and Pravin Fernando representing the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. The inquest, expected to conclude next week, continues.
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Source: Manchester Evening News, 9th January 2023