Grieving mum's distress as mental health hospital loses daughter's clothes after her death

Leisa Towle (L) pictured with her daughter Sophie, who died aged 22 on May 27, both smiling and sitting down in selfie taken by Sophie
-Credit: (Image: Supplied)

The grieving mum of a mental health patient who died while in the care of Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust has been told that staff may have thrown her daughter's clothes away thinking they were rubbish. Leisa Towle's daughter Sophie died from natural causes on May 27 while a patient at Sherwood Oaks Hospital in Mansfield.

The previous day, she had contacted her mother to tell her that her clothes had been lost - not for the first time. And two weeks after her death, the clothes - which Leisa says were part of Sophie's personality - have still not been located.

She said: "It's not good enough. I think they've potentially been thrown away which is obviously very distressing. She'd bought lots of new clothes recently, some with sarcastic slogans on and some with inspirational quotes on. I feel let down. There are things in those bags that could be memories for us."

Sophie, from Mapperley, had been admitted to Sherwood Oaks Hospital in May 2023. Mrs Towle spoke to Nottinghamshire Live about the distress Sophie had experienced when she found out she was being moved back there from a Doncaster hospital, due to the traumatic experiences she'd previously had.

Sophie's mum says the problems with belongings began from the first time she was admitted to Sherwood Oaks. Mrs Towle says that her bags were not delivered to her for three days, despite Mrs Towle having contacted staff herself to tell them where they had been left - in a cupboard near the entrance to the hospital.

She resorted to driving up there herself when she still hadn't been given them after three days, to order staff to check the cupboard and take them out for her. Then, when Sophie was taken off one-to-one treatment on Tuesday, May 14, her clothes were taken off her to prevent her using them to self-harm, and put into storage.

Mrs Towle went to visit her daughter on Saturday, May 18 and saw that Sophie's clothes were stained and had blood on them. She saw her again on Monday, May 20, and Sophie was in the same clothes, at which point she told her mother that the hospital had misplaced her others.

A few days later, Sophie told her mother that the clothes had been located. But on the day Sophie died, she sent her mum a message to tell her that the clothes had been lost again, along with snacks and games they had taken from her.

It was the last contact they had. When Mrs Towle travelled up to the hospital from her home in Mapperley to collect Sophie's belongings a week later on Monday, June 4, she was told the clothes still had not been found.

The hospital told her that they would be contacting staff who were on leave at the time but were responsible for Sophie's clothes to ask if they had any idea where they had gone. She was told they would also be checking CCTV footage to trace them.

Then, the hospital found a bag which they asked Mrs Towle to come and check, to identify if any were Sophie's belongings. None were.

Mrs Towle says the hospital has now offered to buy replacement clothes. She has accepted the offer, but says she'd rather have the ones that Sophie bought and wore.

Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust has been contacted for comment.