A man tragically took his own life after a mental health relapse, prompting a coroner to warn of a shortage of psychiatric beds in Surrey hospitals.

Jonathan Harris, 52, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, died by suicide on June 27, 2022. 

If an inpatient psychiatric hospital bed had been available just days earlier, Mr Harris would not have died, the coroner ruled.

Coroner Anna Crawford judged that action should be taken to prevent future deaths.

Bed shortages for mental health patients nationwide has been an ongoing issue for NHS trusts.

Many patients are forced to move up to 60 miles away from home to receive treatment because there are few beds in their area.

There is also a national shortage of suitably qualified psychiatrists.

Following a lengthy psychiatric inpatient stay in Camberley in November 2021, Mr Harris was under the care of Surrey Heath Community Mental Health Recovery Service, which is part of Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

However, his mental health deteriorated and on June 24 it the MHT decided that he required an assessment under the Mental Health Act.

No inpatient bed was available and therefore the assessment did not take place.

The coroner said: “Mr Harris would not have taken his own life had he remained well and the relapse of his paranoid schizophrenia materially contributed to his death.

“Mr Harris would not have died had an inpatient psychiatric hospital bed been available on either June 24, 25 or 26, 2022.

“The court also heard that there is an ongoing shortage of available inpatient psychiatric beds in Surrey and that this is in the context of a national shortage of inpatient psychiatric beds.

“The court is concerned that both of these matters present a risk of future deaths.”

A report has been issued to NHS England.