'Proper services could have saved Thomas'
Published 17/09/2013 | 17:03
A FERNS woman claims that her brother, who took his own life almost two months ago, could still be alive today if he had been able to get proper supports and services from the health system.
'Some people need immediate intervention, that help is not there, said Colette Nolan.
Her brother, Thomas Nolan, from Cherryorchard, was found dead in a blazing car on Oulart Hill, on July 25, after he had made a despairing call to a clinic in Dublin to try to get some help, 'another answering machine to which he will never receive a call back,' she said.
Colette, speaking on behalf of the family, said that 10 days earlier and following his first attempt to take his life by an overdose, he had been sent home with another patient's medication.
'We were all totally appalled with this. How in the name of God could a man who had taken an overdose be sent home with another man's meds?
'Thomas, for almost two weeks, cried out for hospital intervention which he knew himself he needed but never got. The HSE, the system failed him.
Colette has now written to Deputies Paul Kehoe, Liam Twomey and John Browne, and Minister Brendan Howlin demanding answers and action before there is a repeat of the tragedy that befell her family.
'If the services had been there Thomas could still be alive,' she told this newspaper.
Colette said Thomas, who had been suffering from depression for some time, first tried to take his own life on July 15
She said he was transferred from his GP's surgery in Enniscorthy, to Wexford General Hospital where he was treated for an overdose.
He was put on a fluid drip and left in the corridor for almost seven hours before being transferred into A and E.
'During Thomas's times in the corridor he was very disoriented and got off his trolley several times and on to other vacant trolleys and lost track of his own and other patients got on to his,' said Colette, adding that medication he was already on was left beneath his own trolley. She said the following day he was assessed by a psychiatric team and was released.
While Thomas had told the team he wouln't end his own life, he was in a very agitated state.
Colette said the following week, his family sought help from counsellors, but to no avail.
'Most of the time we got answering machines to which we never got a return call.'
She said that on the weekend of July 19, Thomas again showed more suicidal tendencies.
He was brought to his GP who arranged for an appoinment with a counsellor on July 24 which he attended. That lunchtime he attended 'It's Good to Talk' counselling service in Wexford.
'The counsellor kept Thomas in his office for hours and was not happy, he seemed to be able to see that Thomas was not able to cope and called an ambulance to bring Thomas to Wexford General yet again, he then rang his GP and asked for a letter of referral to the psychiatric service at Waterford.
Colette said she was informed in Wexford General Hospital that her brother had said he wouldn't harm himself.
'I said he said that the last time. I did everything except get on bended knee and asked for him to be placed in a bed in the psychiatric unit at Waterford Regional Hospital to which I was told there were no beds,' she said.
'Thomas was again sent home where he lived with our 79-year-old mam who was also at her wits end and in disbelief at the treatment of someone in such despair,' said Colette.
The following day and after having his hair cut and taking his mam out shopping, he said he was going out for a drive and a walk.
'Thomas never returned home.
'He went to Oulart Hill where his body was found a short time later in a burnt out car,' said Colette.
She said that HSE cutbacks such as the closure of St. Senan's had made things far worse than they were previously in providing emergency care for people like Thomas.
'He was in a dark place and there was nowhere he could be admitted and medically cared for until get could get through it
'He needed to be helped to get him back on an even keel, ' she said.
The HSE said it was not policy to comment on individual cases, but said access was available to mental health services seven days a week.
'It is also the case that beds are available at all times for those assessed as requiring inpatient treatment, which is available at acute units in Waterford and in Newcastle Hospital.'
It's understood the HSE would be open to discussing the circumstances surrounding Thomas's case with his family.