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Inquest concludes into death of 29-year-old woman

A jury inquest into the death of a 29-year-old woman from Berkshire has criticised the actions of staff at Prospect Park Hospital in Reading and their response to her collapse on the ward.

Lauren O’Brien suffered a cardiorespiratory arrest, whilst at Prospect Park Hospital. During the 8-day inquest into her death, the Assistant Coroner, Ian Wade QC, heard evidence from Lauren’s father, hospital staff and experts.

The jury concluded that the response of staff to Lauren’s collapse was unsatisfactory. They found that staff had failed to recognise the emergency in a timely manner, failed to comply with procedures and quality standards and failed to ensure the availability of vital resuscitation equipment. The jury held that these factors could have made a more than minimal contribution to her chances of survival and did place her at undue risk of harm.

Lauren’s dad, Brendan O’Brien, described his daughter as courageous and as someone who struggled to fit in. Although not diagnosed, Brendan believes his daughter had autism. She was much-loved by her family.

Speaking after the inquest, Brendan O’Brien said: “Lauren was a unique and very special daughter. We will miss her every day and wish she was with us to share our memories and moments. Prospect Park Hospital’s catalogue of failures have deprived us of that chance. We have had to fight from the beginning to the end to achieve justice for Lauren and are yet to receive an apology from the Trust. This should not have happened if the Trust’s policies and procedures had simply been followed. Now our hope is that this does not happen to another vulnerable person in a Mental Health Institution and that the Trust are willing to make changes and learn from their mistakes.”

Nancy Collins and Sebastian Del Monte are civil liberties solicitors at London solicitors’ Hodge Jones & Allen representing Brendan O’Brien. Nancy Collins says: “Lauren was a young woman who was struggling with depression and experiencing a mental health crisis. Her family believed that whilst she was in hospital Lauren would receive the critical care that she needed to keep safe and get well. Lauren was terribly failed by those who should have protected her.”

The family were also represented by Kirsten Sjovoll of Matrix Chambers.