Lauren Bridges: Mum hopes inquest after Priory Hospital Cheadle Royal death will provide "vital answers"

The 20-year-old was one of three people to die at the Stockport mental health unit.
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The mum of a young woman who was among three people to die in the same scandal-hit psychiatric hospital last year hopes to find “vital answers” at her inquest.

Lindsey Bridges, 44, called Lauren Bridges, 20, her “best friend” and hoped to “honour her memory” by finding out about her death at the Priory Hospital Cheadle Royal.

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The straight A-student had been admitted eight times to mental health units before going to the privately run hospital, in Stockport in July 2021.

Lauren Bridges with her mum Lindsey Bridges and stepdad James HintonLauren Bridges with her mum Lindsey Bridges and stepdad James Hinton
Lauren Bridges with her mum Lindsey Bridges and stepdad James Hinton

But seven months later, Lindsey got a heartbreaking phone call in the middle of the night to tell her that her daughter had been found unresponsive. Lauren's family rushed six hours to be by her bedside, but by the next day, on February 25, 2022, a clinical decision was made to withdraw her life support.

Her death came just a month before mental health blogger Beth Matthews, 26 passed away after swallowing a poisonous substance at the same hospital. And fellow patient Deseree Fitzpatrick, 30, died there in January 2021, when she choked on her own vomit after being given medication that sedated her gag reflex.

In May this year, the Care Quality Commission watchdog rated the care offered at Priory Hospital Cheadle Royal “inadequate” in a damning report.

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Speaking about her daughter, Lindsey, from Bournemouth, said she hoped the upsetting five weeks inquest would shed light on her tragic death.

She said: “Lauren showed everyone who knew her how to be a better person. She was the kindest, most caring, considerate human being I’m sure I’ll ever meet. She gave so much joy and love to everyone that knew her and made me the proudest parent. Lauren wasn’t just my daughter - she was my best friend and she was beautiful inside and out.

Lauren Bridges with her grandparents William and Elizabeth BridgesLauren Bridges with her grandparents William and Elizabeth Bridges
Lauren Bridges with her grandparents William and Elizabeth Bridges

“It’s difficult to find the words to describe what these last few months and trying to come to terms with Lauren’s death has been like. The pain that has been left in our lives is unbearable. I’d do anything to have Lauren back in our lives but sadly I know that’s not possible. I know the inquest is going to be incredibly upsetting, but I owe it to Lauren to honour her memory by at least establishing the answers as to why she died.”

Lauren had two younger brothers Bobby, 11, and Alfie, who died aged two in 2010, and she was referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services aged 15.

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After passing her GCSEs, Lauren started studying A Levels and aspired to be a doctor or a paediatric nurse. But she was first admitted to a psychiatric unit in October 2018, on a voluntary basis just as she was about to turn 17. Over the coming years, she was admitted to units a further seven times. Her ninth admission was to Cheadle Royal in July 2021.

Lauren BridgesLauren Bridges
Lauren Bridges

Lindsey said: “Lauren was a straight-A student and wanted to use her life to help others. We talked about her going to university and her fulfilling her dreams. She was really excited about this. We were looking at courses and I’d manage to get her an education healthcare plan that would support her through university.

“As soon as I saw the phone ring in the middle of the night I just knew something had happened to Lauren. Those hours travelling to be with her and then in hospital will stay with me forever. Having to make the decision that her life support should be withdrawn is the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do and is something I’ll never get over.”

Following Lauren’s death, Lindsey instructed specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care and support her through an inquest. An inquest scheduled for two weeks examining the circumstances surrounding Lauren’s death got underway in February this year. But the hearing was stopped after two days and the jury discharged. A new inquest was then listed to allow more time for all of the evidence to be heard. The full inquest is now due to start at Stockport Coroner’s Court on Monday and is expected to last up to five weeks.

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Alexander Terry, a specialist public law and human rights lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Coming to terms with Lauren’s tragic death and the circumstances surrounding it has been so painful for Lindsey and the rest of her family.

“While the adjournment was regrettable, Lauren’s family accepted it was necessary to ensure a thorough and fearless investigation into the circumstances of Lauren’s death was held before a conclusion reached. Understandably the family continue to be profoundly affected by Lauren’s death which happened in such tragic circumstances and have many questions about the events that unfolded. Their focus is now on this upcoming inquest which they hope will provide them with the answers they deserve."

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