Newmarket grandmother, 56, set herself on fire on mental health ward, inquest told
PUBLISHED: 16:39 06 November 2017 | UPDATED: 19:29 06 November 2017
A Suffolk grandmother with a history of burning herself was found engulfed in flames on a mental health ward after she set herself on fire with a cigarette lighter in her handbag, an inquest heard.
Cambridgeshire’s assistant coroner Belinda Cheney said it appeared Heather Loveridge’s handbag was not searched on admission to the Cavell Centre mental health unit in Peterborough, and was returned to her.
Mrs Loveridge, 56, of Newmarket, was found ablaze in her bedroom’s en-suite toilet within a day of being voluntarily admitted to the ward.
She died two days later on August 19, 2016 at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, which has a specialist burns unit.
The inquest heard staff were alerted when the fire alarm sounded shortly before 8am on August 17, 2016.
Ms Cheney said: “Staff investigated and found Mrs Loveridge had set fire to herself in the toilet of her bedroom and her hair and clothes were on fire.”
Mrs Loveridge, who had psychotic depression, was taken to hospital but did not recover from her injuries.
“It’s accepted that she used her cigarette lighter to set fire to herself,” said Ms Cheney.
Mrs Loveridge’s daughter, also called Heather Loveridge, told a jury inquest at Huntingdon Town Hall that her mother had set herself alight in a previous incident in February 2013.
Her mother was an inpatient at Fulbourn Hospital mental health facility near Cambridge when the incident happened and she suffered burns to her chest.
Miss Loveridge said she had asked for reassurance from the Cavell Centre that the same thing wouldn’t be allowed to happen again.
But she said the family later had a phone call “saying there had been an incident and mum had set fire to herself again”.
Miss Loveridge added: “She would have had in her handbag a lighter and cigarettes as she was a smoker.”
Dr Kris Owden, a registrar at the Cavell Centre, was asked by coroner Ms Cheney if people are allowed to have lighters on psychiatric wards. He replied: “No.”
The Cavell Centre is run by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.
The inquest, which is estimated to last three days, continues.