Opinion Former Article

Rethink Calls for Urgent National Action to Prevent Another Taylor Tragedy


Spokesperson for Taylor family says they are "vindicated but destroyed"

Mental health charity Rethink today (December 14) called for national action to prevent the catalogue of failings that led to Garry Taylor killing his friend.

An independent inquiry into the death of Colin Johnson in January 2004 in Sunderland found:

· That the treatment of My Taylor and his family was "wholly unacceptable."
· The death of Mr Johnson was "in all probability" avoidable if the management of Garry Taylor's treatment had been "carried out in the manner and to the standards which the patient, his family and members of the wider community were entitled to expect."

The devastating report came after over 83 appeals from the family for help had been turned down. Rethink has been working closely with the family of Garry Taylor.

The official report went on to note that:

· The quality and scope of Garry Taylor's treatment were poor and there was a failure to follow an appropriate or robust care programme, which ought to have provided a framework for managing his care.

· Risk assessment and management was inadequate and there was poor communication and record keeping.
· There was only partial compliance with statutory obligations and other national guidance for mental health care.

· Communications between mental health services and Garry Taylor's family were not good enough and the family was not involved or supported adequately.

Valerie Minns, spokesperson for the Taylor family and a Rethink Trustee said: "The Taylor family are grateful to the inquiry for its thoroughness, depth and breadth. "They hope people, especially the victim's family, will now understand that they did their very best to help Garry with no help from the services who should have provided it.

"They strongly feel that the responsibility for the death lies with the agencies responsible for Garry's care. They still cannot understand why no one took any notice of what they were saying.

"They know of other families in Sunderland who have been dismissed in a similar way - the services must understand that they have to take notice of families who are begging for help and act on the information they are given.

"Although they feel vindicated by this report, it doesn't alter the fact that two families have been destroyed by these events."

Rethink Director of Public Affairs Paul Corry said: "This is a damning indictment of mental health services in Sunderland which must immediately lead to action to raise standards.

"Garry Taylor's family tried time and again to get help but were shunned at every turn. Mental health services across the country must learn to listen to people with direct experience.

"Homicides involving people using mental health services are thankfully very rare, but one avoidable death is obviously one too many.

"Rethink will not be alone in wanting to work with local mental health services to bring in the improvements recommended in this report. We know that where mental health services are at their best, they are planned and delivered through a partnership between statutory services and the voluntary sector that has people with direct experience at its heart."



The Taylor family contacted Sunderland Rethink shortly after the tragedy and Rethink has acted as advocates for the Taylors with Valerie Minns, a Rethink trustee, working particularly closely with them.

For further information please contact Liam Curran on 020 7330 9112 or Paul Corry on 020 7330 9110 (office) 07775 585178 (mobile) or Jane Harris on 07734 150039 (mobile)

About Rethink

Rethink, the leading national mental health membership charity, works to help everyone affected by severe mental illness recover a better quality of life. We aim to provide hope and empowerment through effective services and support to all those who need us and campaign for change through greater awareness and understanding.

For further information on the charity and its work, visit: www.rethink.org or call 0845 456 0455.

The Mental Health Shop was created by two leading mental health charities, Rethink and Mental Health Media, and features an array of books, leaflets, DVD's and videos on a range of mental health topics including recovery, treatment and discrimination. This unprecedented collaboration now allows for a 'one stop shop' combining a range of mental health publications and products.Visit www.mentalhealthshop.org

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