Hospital worker denies charges over death of patient on mental health ward

A hospital worker has denied causing the death of a 22-year-old mental health patient after she gained access to plastic items used in 18 suicide attempts.

Alice Figueiredo died at Goodmayes Hospital, a mental health facility in Redbridge, north-east London, on July 7 2015.

It is alleged she had access to plastic items on the Hepworth Ward which had been used in 18 earlier suicide attempts.

Ward manager Benjamin Aninakwa is charged with her manslaughter by gross negligence.

A second charge alleges he failed to take reasonable care for the health and safety of patients on Hepworth Ward.

Frank Bruno Goodmayes Hospital
Alice Figueiredo died at Goodmayes Hospital (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

According to the charges, he failed to take reasonable steps to remove a “means of suicide” or provide an “adequate level of care and supervision” for Ms Figueiredo.

It is also claimed the defendant failed to remove plastic items from the ward capable of use for self-harm and that he failed to ensure incidents of self-harm were recorded, considered and addressed.

Aninakwa, 52, of St Francis Way, Grays, was a ward manager of Goodmayes Hospital at the time of the alleged offences.

On Friday, he pleaded not guilty to the two charges at the Old Bailey where he appeared alongside representatives of North East London NHS Foundation Trust.

The trust faces charges of corporate manslaughter and an offence of failing to ensure the health and safety of non-employees.

The manslaughter charge states that the trust caused the death of Ms Figueiredo by “gross breach of its duty of care”.

It is alleged the trust failed to remove plastic items from detained patients on an acute psychiatric ward, permitting them to be accessible to Ms Figueiredo on the ward where she was then detained.

It also allegedly failed to remove the items from use by her after being used to attempt suicide on 18 previous occasions.

These alleged attempted suicides were recorded on hospital notes and in other hospital records and discussed regularly at relevant hospital meetings, according to the indictment.

On behalf of the trust, defence barrister John Cooper KC entered not guilty pleas.

Judge Richard Marks KC confirmed a trial of nine weeks would start on October 2 at the Old Bailey.

Aninakwa remains on bail ahead of a preparatory hearing on June 25.

Five members of Ms Figueiredo’s family sat in court for the hearing.