Before HM Assistant Coroner Kirsten Heaven
Swansea Coroner’s Court, The Guildhall, Swansea SA1 4PE
Opens 4 December 2023, scheduled for two and a half weeks
Dr Nicholas Kim Harrison (Kim) tragically died on 9 April 2022 after succumbing to his injuries sustained a month previously. He had been assaulted by his son who was suffering a severe psychotic illness and had been formally detained under the Mental Health Act before absconding from Ward F Neath Port Talbot Hospital, less than an hour before the assault.
Kim was a renowned and respected consultant chest physician. He was instrumental to the provision of respiratory services at Morriston Hospital in Swansea, having worked closely with colleagues to set up its Respiratory Unit. He had only recently retired.
Over the two years prior to Kim’s death, he and his wife Jane had significant contact with Swansea Bay mental health services. They repeatedly raised concerns about their son’s presentation, his deteriorating mental health, the risks that he posed to himself and others, and sought advice and assistance for him. The family feels that their concerns and requests for assistance were not effectively addressed.
Jane hopes that, for the first time, the inquest will ensure that there is proper public scrutiny of the decision making of the mental health services in respect of their son’s care. She hopes that the coroner’s investigation will ascertain whether anything could have been done to prevent the death of her beloved husband and devoted father to their four sons.
Jane, Kim’s widow, said:
We miss Kim greatly. Over a year and a half after his death we hope that we will finally get answers. We are struggling to comprehend why it has taken the loss of Kim’s life for our son to finally receive the care that he so desperately needed. We are hopeful that the Coroner will help us get the answers our family need and that important lessons will be learned from this tragedy.
Julian Hendy, from the Hundred Families charity which has been supporting Dr Harrison’s family, said:
This is a very concerning case which raises many significant questions.
We are constantly told to reach out if we have concerns about someone’s deteriorating mental health. The Harrison family did that repeatedly, but nonetheless an innocent, talented, and much-loved man lost his life.
There are around 100 – 120 mental health related homicides in the United Kingdom every year. From our experience most are committed by seriously unwell people who have been unable, or unwilling, to access effective mental health care and treatment.
We trust the Coroner will lead a full, frank, and fearless investigation into the circumstances of Dr Harrison’s death so that robust action can be taken in respect of any failures that are identified to prevent any other family having to go through the awful trauma the Harrison family, like so many others, has had to endure.
The family are represented by Joanna Bennett and Elizabeth Cleaver of Bindmans LLP, and Bridget Dolan KC of Serjeants’ Inn Chambers.
Other Interested Persons represented are Swansea Bay University Health Board, Swansea County Council and South Wales Police.