THERE has been a lot in the news recently about the crisis facing A&E departments.

But a tragic case on which we report today reminds us that casualty departments are not the only part of the health service under strain.

Three years ago Carsten Armstrong, a 26-year-old voluntary patient at Bootham Park Hospital, took his own life while on overnight leave. His death sparked a three-year legal fight by his mother, Elaine, to force the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust responsible for Carsten’s care to accept that mistakes had contributed to his death.

The case has now been settled out of court with the payment of an undisclosed sum in damages to Carsten’s family - a tacit recognition by the mental health trust that mistakes were made.

The Armstrongs’ lawyers said hospital staff had failed to act on Carsten’s refusal to take his medication the previous night, failed to conduct a re-risk assessment before he left hospital - and failed to realise he had lost his mobile phone so they could not contact him. The hospital also failed to act on a telephone call from one of Carsten’s friends concerned about him on the night of his death.

The Leeds and York Partnership no longer runs mental health services in York (though it runs them elsewhere) and Bootham Park Hospital is now closed. But this desperately sad case illustrates the extraordinary care that those dealing with vulnerable people like Carsten must take - and the huge responsibility placed upon them.

Clearly, something went badly wrong with Carsten’s care. A spokesperson for the Leeds and York Partnership said a thorough review of services had been carried out following his death, and a number of changes had been made.