Ipswich paramedic who begged for help was abandoned by failing mental health trust, mum says


The mother of a trainee paramedic who took her own life has joined the growing calls for a public inquiry into the mental health trust she says “let her daughter down” in her hour of need.

Rebecca McLellan was 24 when she died at her flat in Ipswich in November.

Her mother Natalie McLellan said her daughter “couldn’t cope with the devil on her shoulder that was bipolar disorder” and had repeatedly asked for help.

When Rebecca tried to access that support from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), she was instead met with a “complete lack of empathy” from the mental health team who should have been caring for her – and was even turned away from a unit in Ipswich when she begged to be seen three months before her death.

The trust insisted it was making improvements and was working with the family as it investigated.

Rebecca’s mum, Natalie, said her daughter was let down by her mental health team. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Mrs McLellan told ITV News Anglia: “They said there was no-one for her to see that day. She even offered to drive anywhere in Norfolk or Suffolk to see somebody that day.

“They said there was nobody available and they’d get someone to phone her. She said: ‘I’m not going to leave’.

“They threatened to call the police if she didn’t get out. She should have had that help.”

Rebecca’s funeral was attended by nearly 500 people and her colleagues from the East of England Ambulance Service gave her coffin a guard of honour.

Her mother described her as a “beautiful soul who spent her whole life helping people”, but when she needed help herself, it was not forthcoming.

Rebecca loved helping people and worked for the East of England Ambulance Service. Credit: Family photo

After being referred by her GP for specialist support from the trust, she was given a care co-ordinator but he went on leave.

When she emailed on a number of occasions to ask who would be stepping in for him while he was away, she got no response back.

In a statement, a spokesperson for NSFT said it was investigating her death and “working with Rebecca’s family”.

“Learning from this investigation will help inform improvements, improve safety and quality and reduce the opportunity for incidents like this to happen again,” the statement read.

NSFT, which has been rated “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission four times in the last eight years, recently launched a review after it emerged a man who was found dead in Costessey near Norwich, alongside his two daughters and sister-in-law, was one of its patients.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Mental Health Trust has resisted calls for a public inquiry. Credit: ITV News Anglia

It has led to renewed calls for a major external investigation into the unexpected deaths of patients under the trust’s care.

However, the trust has since written to the government and argued that an inquiry would “compromise services” and undermine “continuing efforts to improve.”

Campaigners have vowed to keep fighting though so that other families do not have to go through the same heartache.

“These young people are dying without help and it has got to stop. We need a public inquiry into what is happening here. Until the government listen, nothing is going to change,” said Mrs McLellan

“This is a system that’s failing and it can’t be left without an answer. Rebecca’s death has broken us as a family.

“On paper she had it all. She was a happy-go-lucky, popular person – all she needed was help to manage her condition. If she can’t get help, what chance does anybody have?”

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