Solicitors acting on behalf of the family of a Wem schoolboy who died when he was struck by a train have confirmed they are investigating whether his death could have avoided by health officials.
Jeff Antwis, 14, was placed on life support at Royal Stoke Hospital on January 30, 2017, but it was withdrawn later the same day and he passed away a short time after.
His family believe the teenager, who attended Thomas Adams School in Wem, was failed by the Shropshire Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
Beth Harrison, of Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors, represented the family at an inquest at Shrewsbury’s Shirehall, where coroner John Ellery concluded Jeff’s death was suicide, and is also acting in relation to an alleged clinical negligence claim.
“This is a tragic case involving a vulnerable child who desperately needed help,” she said.
“He had his whole life ahead of him and we are investigating whether with an appropriate risk assessment and subsequent action his death could have been avoided.”
Jeff had a history of high functioning Aspergers syndrome, now also known as Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and was known to CAMHS.
It was heard at the inquest Jeff had, over a period of approximately four months, exhibited an escalating low mood and increasing levels of hopelessness.
He made five suicide attempts with increasing intent and escalating lethality and his mother raised concerns about her son to the family’s GP, who urgently referred him to CAMHS in January 2017.
In a post-inquest statement, the family said CAMHS did not recognise the urgency of the situation and the danger this boy posed to himself and take appropriate action. Instead, an appointment was given for over seven weeks’ time.
Jeff’s mother, Lorraine Antwis, called her son a ‘funny and unique’ boy.
She said: “We loved Jeff and we miss him. He was funny, talented and unique, kind and caring, and always brought sunshine and laughter with him.
“He just wanted everyone to be happy and we are devastated that he has gone.
“We would to thank family, friends, neighbours, teachers and community groups for their support and prayers in this difficult time.
“We would also like to thank the emergency services, including the MERIT team, and care given by Royal Stoke University Hospital’s A&E/PICU.”
South Staffordshire and Shropshire NHS Foundation Trust have since incorporated CAMHS and says it will addressing any concerns.
A spokesman said: “At the time of Jeff’s death, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services were being provided by Shropshire Community Trust.
“In May 2017, South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust assumed managerial control of Shropshire CAMHS Service which is now part of a wider 0-25 emotional health and wellbeing service.
“We will therefore be responding to, taking action to address the serious areas of concern identified by the coroner at the inquest. The Trust would like to express sincere condolences to Jeff’s family and friends.”
See full story in the Whitchurch Herald