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Maidstone psychiatric nurse Christine Watts allowed to return to work after contributing to Peter Franklin's suicide

A psychiatric nurse whose actions contributed to a grandfather's suicide has been allowed to return to work.

Peter Franklin, of Riverside Park, East Farleigh, fell to his death from a motorway bridge in August 2013 after being turned away from Maidstone Hospital’s A&E five times, and was at one point threatened with arrest.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has now found Christine Watts, while working as part of Kent & Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust’s (KMPT) Crisis team, failed to assess Mr Franklin – on one occasion phoning his daughter to pick him up instead; inform an A&E nurse he required an assessment and posed a suicide risk; and did not enter the referral on to a computer.

Peter Franklin, who died after falling from a bridge onto the M20
Peter Franklin, who died after falling from a bridge onto the M20

It also found systematic failings within KMPT led to his death.

An inquest in 2014 heard the father-of-four’s daughter had been told he would be arrested if he returned to the hospital.

Hours later the agitated 67-year-old died of multiple injuries after throwing himself from the bridge at junction 5 (Aylesford) of the M20.

The NMC found Mrs Watts’ actions had contributed towards his death, but accepted she believed she was acting in his best interests.

She was handed a two-year conditions of practice order, which includes confining her work to KMPT, writing a reflective piece and sending the NMC reports from her line manager.

Father of four and grandfather Peter Franklin
Father of four and grandfather Peter Franklin

Martyn Griffiths, NMC panel chairman, said: “Your omission to stress the imminent threat of [Mr Franklin] committing suicide did contribute to his death because had he not been left alone, it is more likely than not, that he would not have been able to jump off the bridge.

“There were many factors that contributed towards his death, and the panel simply could not quantify how much you contributed towards it.

“The crisis team were busy that night, and you were the only registered nurse on duty, and you believed you were acting in the best interests of the patient.

“You were not the sole contributor towards his death, there were systematic failings within the trust. A conditions of practice order is the appropriate and proportionate sanction.”

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