Mother of trans boy who died in mental health unit calls for public inquiry

The mother of a transgender boy who died after self-harming in a mental health unit is calling for a public inquiry into his care.

Charlie Millers, 17, from Stretford, Greater Manchester, died from a brain injury five days after being found unconscious on the Junction 17 wing at Prestwich Hospital in December 2020.

An inquest at Rochdale Coroners' Court found there were multi-agency failings leading up to his death and that he didn't intend to end his life.

The inquest jury found that a lack of one-to-one nursing care and the decision not to place Charlie on constant observations at the ward probably contributed to his death.

His mother, Sam Millers, had repeatedly called for more support to keep him safe.

She told Sky News: "All these failings, it upsets me that I'll never get the opportunity to say I'm sorry. He was at risk of death and as his mum, I said I didn't think he'd be here for Christmas."

Charlie was a talented artist who loved football and animals, but he struggled with his mental health from an early age.

He had been diagnosed with ADHD and was severely bullied after publicly identifying as a boy from the age of 12.

The court heard Charlie was receiving support from Trafford Council children's services as he was in a cycle of self-harm and suicide attempts. He was admitted to Junction 17 due to a deterioration in his mental health.

Charlie was the third young person to die at the hospital in less than a year.

His mother said: "Three deaths in nine months due to the same observation failings is really concerning and we are going to push for a public inquiry."

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The senior coroner at the inquest, Joanne Kearsley, also said she was concerned and told jurors she would write to the Department for Health and Social Care to seek recommendations to prevent future deaths.

In the months before he died, Charlie had been admitted three times to the unit, which is run by Greater Manchester Mental Health (GMMH) NHS Foundation Trust.

GMMH said: "A wide range of actions have already been taken to improve inpatient mental health services both in response to Charlie's death, and as part of our wider improvement plan."

Meanwhile, Trafford Council said: "We are actively working with our safeguarding partnership to enhance our practice when young people are in crisis to improve their care."

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK