Parents pay tribute to ‘caring’ teenager Eloise, treated 70 miles from home
Father calls for more mental health beds in the capital after death of Finsbury Park teenager
20 July, 2018 — By Emily Finch
‘Funny, courageous and loyal’ Eloise Land
A FAMILY mourning the death of a “lovely and intelligent” teenager have called for more specialist mental health services in north London after their daughter was sent for hospital treatment 70 miles away.
The teenager’s father Adam Land, from Finsbury Park, paid tribute to his daughter Eloise this week and said: “She was very caring, she put in a lot of effort to being supportive to other people who were struggling. She told them, ‘you can make it, you can do this’.”
He added: “She really cared about other people and even when she was going through a difficult time herself, she would always make time for others. She was also very strong on ideas, funny, courageous and loyal.”
Eloise was treated in Oxford for nine months after being told there was no bed available near her home in Finsbury Park, a move that her father said left her feeling “dislocated” from family and friends.
An inquest was opened at St Pancras Coroner’s Court into Eloise’s death after she took her own life in April following a three-year battle with mental illness.
Mr Land said that his family were incredibly grateful to family and friends for their support, both in person and through the tribute page created in their daughter’s memory. Eloise’s friends at her former school, Hornsey School for Girls in Crouch End, featured a piece from her GCSE collection in their final art show last month. The piece shows a sketched face looking towards the right hand side to symbolise Eloise’s hope for the future.
“She was working incredibly hard to get well. She threw herself into all the treatment she could get. She really fought to get better,” said Mr Land.
Eloise’s GCSE artwork
Eloise was a star pupil and achieved mostly A*s and As in her GCSEs despite having to take her exams in a specialist mental health unit. She had spent nine months being treated in Oxford after doctors at the Whittington Hospital said she required round-the-clock inpatient care three years ago.
Mr Land praised the kindness and commitment of NHS staff who worked tirelessly to help his daughter but added “it wasn’t good enough” that she wasn’t treated near their home.
He said: “It’s appalling. She was a young person, just 15 at the time, and she was ripped away from her family and her home. In practical terms it meant she couldn’t come home for the weekend or for a day trip. She was dislocated from her family and friends. It was incredibly hard for us and who knows how hard it was for her.”
Eloise was later moved for treatment at another unit in Edgware.
Mr Land also criticised the lack of care in Islington for teenagers suffering a mental health crisis outside of ordinary working hours who were not receiving inpatient treatment locally.
He said that during the periods Eloise was staying at home, the only support available at weekends or evenings would be the local accident and emergency department.
“There was nothing else available. It meant we couldn’t bring Eloise home for the weekend from Oxford because there was no support locally. I’m sure it’s to do with funding. There was such a gap,” he said.
He also added that the planned change in care for Eloise once she reached 18 years old was a “source of worry”, adding: “There’s a very sharp transition from youth to adult treatment. It doesn’t make any sense because when you wake up on your 18th birthday you aren’t really different from what you were the day before.
“She died when she was 17 so it’s not something we experienced directly but it was very much on our mind and hers.”
Mr Land said his family was “trying to rebuild” after Eloise’s death and added: “The memory of Eloise is at the heart of everything we do.”
A spokeswoman for NHS England said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Eloise at this very difficult time.
“Providing the most appropriate treatment for a young person who requires inpatient mental health care is at the centre of all clinical decisions in what are often very complex cases.
“There is a rigorous assessment and thorough search of local beds before a young person is referred to a service outside of London, and the patient’s clinical needs are at the centre of the decision to provide services. A decision is always based on a patient’s need to ensure they receive the most appropriate clinical support in an environment that is suitable for a young person.”
The NHS promised last year to provide between 150 and 180 more beds for youngsters in specialised mental health units to reduce travel distances to match demand.
• Tributes can be left to Eloise at www.eloise-land.muchloved.com Anyone struggling or affected by this story can call the Samaritans for free on 116 123 for confidential support.