GMP reopen investigation into boy’s death as GMMH hospital records may have been edited AFTER tragedy

An inquest into the death of a teenager being treated at a mental health unit in Prestwich has been delayed for police to carry out further investigations – after it emerged hospital records may have been edited after his death. 

Charlie Millers, 17, died five days after he was found unresponsive in his room at Prestwich Hospital on December 2, 2020. Within the same nine months, two other patients being treated at the hospital also died. 

The youngster’s inquest was due to begin at Rochdale Coroner’s Court on Monday (January 30), but the hearing was adjourned after GMP requested further time to review the initial police investigation into his death.

Senior Coroner Joanne Kearsley told the court that questions had been raised about whether some hospital documents ‘might have been altered’ since Charlie’s death. 

Detective Superintendent Lewis Hughes requested for the hearing to be delayed so that GMP could reopen the investigation. He added that some members of staff working for the hospital trust may have to be interviewed under caution as part of their enquiries. 

He told the court: “I was contacted by the coroner and asked to review the initial investigation into Charlie’s death. Having reviewed our documents there are a number of issues that I believe require further investigation. 

“We may even have to interview certain members of staff under caution. Some entries may have been edited which may have an innocent explanation but that requires further investigation.” 

In addition to the people who were there on the day of Charlie’s death, the police will also look at the role of more senior management on the ward. 

Adjourning the inquest, Ms Kearsley said she was ‘not satisfied’ with the initial investigation carried out by Greater Manchester Police. She also called for the force to “collaborate” with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) about their findings, and whether a subsequent CQC investigation is needed. 

“I am acutely aware not only for Charlie’s family but also the witnesses, that this is not what anyone would have wanted,” she said. “I know it has been a long time preparing for this. We will do the inquest but we will do it right.”

Charlie’s family lawyer told the court that they were ‘extremely dissatisfied’ but are “reassured” by the level of scrutiny that has gone into his case.

It’s the second time the teenager’s inquest has been delayed after Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH), who run the hospital, were ordered to commission an ‘external report’ about Charlie’s death, as well as the deaths of 18-year-old Rowan Thompson and Ania Sohail, 21. 

The full inquiry into Charlie’s death should have started in February last year in front of a jury, but was pushed back until January 30. It’s likely his inquest will now not take place until the end of this year after GMP warned their investigation could take up to six months. 

A watchdog previously said it was “very concerned” about the safety of people using the services at GMMH after a damning report by inspectors found there was not always enough nursing staff and that bank or agencies workers used at the site did not always have enough training.

The trust was placed into the ‘equivalent of special measures’ in November last year. Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH) is now under the highest level of NHS England intervention. 

Following the adjournment, Sam Millers, Charlie’s mother, said: “We have waited over two years to get answers over Charlie’s death and yet still new and important evidence is being unearthed causing further delays to the process.

“As Charlie’s mum is it very difficult to get to this stage and face the prospect of another long delay. Greater Manchester Police need to take this issue very seriously to ensure we get justice and accountability for Charlie, and that other young people are kept safe.”

Jodie Anderson, Senior Caseworker at INQUEST, who represent the family, said: “This family have waited years for answers, and now face yet more delay as deeply concerning evidence has come to light. We hope this investigation will enable a full and thorough examination of the care Charlie received and will progress with urgency.”

Full story here

Source: Manchester Evening News, 30th January 2023

Published by CHARM Greater Manchester

CHARM, the Community for Holistic, Accessible, Rights Based Mental Health was launched by The Organic Recovery Learning Community in September 2020.

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