Statement from Suffolk User Forum, 14 February 2024 – Ellie Woolnough

Ellie Ocean Woolnough

All of SUF’s members, friends, partners and contacts will probably have seen the media coverage over the last three weeks and perhaps reports of the Coroner’s verdict on Tuesday this week (13 February) of Ellie’s tragic death.

Such an awful but too familiar story of personal struggle, missed opportunities, failures by NSFT and the sad consequence for Ellie, her family, friends and those who knew her. And importantly also, yet again, for everybody’s confidence in our local mental health services when they are most needed.

Many of you will know also that Ellie was James Woolnough’s (and Lisa’s) much loved daughter and that James is our so valued SUF staff member, known to so many of you as our Peer Mental Health Advocate. Our hearts go out to him, Lisa, their son and Ellie’s partner.

Through their grief they have conducted themselves over the months with such persistence and dignity to understand what actually happened. They were acclaimed publicly by the Coroner for their focus as they needed to prepare for, and live through again in the last three weeks, what so many other families have also experienced.

These events emphasise again why SUF has been, and will always be, so robustly challenging to NSFT about its lack of, on a reliable basis, appropriate or timely care and support to us in Suffolk in so many different ways – not just in crisis or life-threatening situations, but in delays, lack of empathy, lack of communication, failure to listen and ‘link things up’, inconsistency and unreliability. Despair and anxiety is the result. We deserve better. And all the time we hear NSFT is ‘improving’ or ‘promises to learn and improve’. SUF endeavours year after year to support them in this. But we need to believe it from your evidence.

All of this explains also why SUF always works so hard to maintain a positive but robust feedback line for service users to NSFT, and in our partner relationship with both the local (SNEE) NHS Integrated Care Board and Suffolk County Council, via the new Mental Health Collaborative, as well as with other voluntary sector and service user/carer organisations. We give regular researched, informed, ‘Making Our Voice Count’ feedback about your actual experiences of the services.

There is little from Ellie’s death which NSFT should not have learned previously, from previous deaths, previous prevention of future deaths notices and from our continuous feedback. We understand the frustration, loss of confidence and anger that many now experience, fearful as to whether you or your loved ones, friends or family are receiving the right care, at the right time and from the right person.

SUF is here for you, to listen, to give voice, to work in partnership and to do our best to speak up for your interests.

Jayne Stevens, James Woolnough & Louise Biddiscombe on behalf of SUF Staff.

Guenever Pachent on behalf of SUF Trustees.

To find out more about Ellie and her Inquest please click on the following links:

Day 1 

Inquest opens into death of Ellen Woolnough from Ipswich –Inquest opens into death of Ellen Woolnough from Ipswich | Ipswich Star

Day 2 

Ipswich coroner raises ‘deep concerns’ after Ellen Woolnough death – Ipswich coroner raises ‘deep concerns’ after Ellen Woolnough death – BBC News

Parents question NSFT nurse in inquest for Ipswich woman – Parents question NSFT nurse in inquest for Ipswich woman | Ipswich Star

Day 3 

NSFT criticised in inquest for Ipswich woman Ellen Woolnough – NSFT criticised in inquest for Ipswich woman Ellen Woolnough | Ipswich Star

Inquest of Ipswich woman, 27, leaves coroner ‘flabbergasted’ – Inquest of Ipswich woman, 27, leaves coroner ‘flabbergasted’ | Ipswich Star

Day 4  

NHS trust’s processes ‘inadequate’ says Ipswich coroner – NHS trust’s processes ‘inadequate’ says Ipswich coroner – BBC News

Inquest concludes for Ellen Woolnough, 27 and from Ipswich – Inquest concludes for Ellen Woolnough, 27 and from Ipswich | Ipswich Star