A vulnerable young woman died in a mental health unit after two nurses skipped six observation checks as they were too busy playing on their phones, a court heard.
Lauren Ellis, 22, was found dead at the Oberlands mental health centre in Guersney on October 12 2017 despite being recognised as a high suicide risk, a jury was told.
Two mental health nurses, Rory McDermott, 32, and Naomi Prestidge, 30, are being tried for manslaughter by gross negligence after allegedly failing to check on her for 90 minutes.
They both deny the charges at the island’s Royal Court.
The 22-year-old, who had a history of self-harming and suffered from emotionally unstable personality disorder, was supposed to be checked every 15 minutes.
However the nurses failed to conduct the final six checks on Miss Ellis before she died, the court was told.
The last check was made at 1am and Miss Ellis’ body was discovered at 2.42am.
The trial was told they had been caught on camera with their feet up, browsing the internet for holidays and playing music on their phones instead of carrying out the scheduled checks.
This included carrying out searches for the Hard Rock Cafe in Tenerife in the staff room.
Within minutes of the patient’s body being found, the defendants panicked and were caught on camera falsifying reports, the court heard.
Both were arrested on December 7 2017.
NURSES MISSED CHECKS
Miss Ellis’s mother had spoken to McDermott just before midnight to express concern over her daughter’s state of mind, having just spent an hour on the phone with her.
In response to her warning she told the court he said: “Not to worry; we’ll keep a close eye on her.”
He failed to pass on the message to Prestidge, the shift coordinator that night, the court heard.
Crown Advocate Chris Dunford said the standard of care after 1am had “fallen off a cliff”.
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The court heard how Miss Ellis had been diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder.
She was admitted to the Crevichon ward at the Oberlands Centre the day before her death as her recent self-harm had escalated to contain suicidal urges.
Miss Ellis had required hospital treatment because of her self-harming five times in the six days prior to her death – two of them on the day before she died.
A post-mortem examination later concluded she died as a result of ligature strangulation.
The trial continues.