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Inquest concludes nurse Amin Abdullah killed himself while suffering depression

An inquest into the death of an award-winning nurse has concluded that he "killed himself while the balance of his mind was disturbed”.

Posted on 08 February 2017

Amin Abdullah, 41 suffered mental health issues following a delayed disciplinary process and dismissal from his job with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

The inquest took place between the 6th and 8th February at Westminster Coroner’s Court, London. Amin died on 9 February 2016 after setting himself on fire in the grounds of Kensington Palace, London.

Amin was a registered nurse who, until shortly before his death, worked for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust at Charing Cross Hospital. He was described as a dedicated nurse who “lived for the job”.

He was awarded the Hannah Evans Clinical Excellence Award in 2014. The inquest heard how Amin had written a letter for a colleague to assist in her response to a complaint made by a patient.

He also signed a petition in support of the colleague, along with 16 other members of staff. This led to disciplinary proceedings being taken against Amin in September 2015.

Amin immediately admitted the steps he had taken to support his colleague when these were put to him and offered to resign. He was told not to resign and disciplinary proceedings were commenced.

Following this Amin heard nothing about the process for many weeks. It was not progressed and he was not told what the allegations were against him in terms of his conduct and how this breached his contract.

This caused Amin extreme distress, anxiety and he had difficulty sleeping Amin was dismissed from the trust on 21 December 2015.

He lodged an appeal against his dismissal in January 2016 and a hearing date was set for 11 February. He had also raised a formal grievance about the disciplinary process. On 27 January 2016 Amin voluntarily admitted himself to St Charles Mental Health Unit.

On the evening of 8 February Amin left the unit unescorted under an agreement to return by 8pm, however, according to reports he ignited himself in front of the Police in the early hours of 9 February.

Amin’s partner, Terry Skitmore, said following the verdict: “While I welcome the limited findings of the Coroner in relation to the Imperial trust, I did not feel that the conclusion sufficiently recognised the impact of the delay in the disciplinary process on Amin’s mental health. I lived with Amin and I firmly believe that the disciplinary process triggered Amin’s decline and the delays and lack of communication severely compounded this decline.

“I came into this process knowing that Amin took his own life. It has been saddening to learn that the mental health hospital caring for Amin had not followed their policies and I remain of the view that having stated his plan to set himself on fire, more should have been done to protect him.

“Amin had no history of mental health illness. The manner in which he was treated by Imperial turned him from a happy dedicated nurse to an urn of ashes. Inaccurate information was provided to the police and despite my allegations that both the process and the decision was unfair and caused Amin’s mental decline and subsequent death, Imperial have taken no substantive action to fully investigate these. I’ve had to investigate myself and my findings fell on deaf ears.”

Merry Varney, of law firm Leigh Day, who represented Terry Skitmore said: “Amin died while a voluntary inpatient in mental health care. He had come to this country, trained as a nurse, and was in a committed relationship with Terry.

“Terry has sought to raise concerns since Amin’s death that there was a very clear trigger for the decline of Amin’s mental health and that the acknowledged delay in the disciplinary process, together with lack of communication, exacerbated Amin’s mental health issues. He disputes the lawfulness of the disciplinary decision and feels the combination of the process and the substantive decision caused his loved one’s death.

“The Inquest process allows only for a narrow exploration of this very serious concern, as the Coroner’s focus is how Amin died and not why he died. Although the Inquest uncovered evidence that Imperial was fully aware that there were concerns about Amin’s mental health before the disciplinary hearing, there is no evidence these were effectively acted upon.

“We ask for Imperial to reconsider Terry’s request to hold a full independent investigation into the handling of the disciplinary process and its impact on Amin.”

Amin’s partner, Terry Skitmore, was represented at the inquest by Merry Varney of law firm Leigh Day and Caroline Cross of 1 Crown Office Row.