‘More should have been done to help my son...’

The emergency services at Pleasure Beach station after Scott Burke was struck by a train.
The emergency services at Pleasure Beach station after Scott Burke was struck by a train.
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The father of a man who died when he was hit by a train today said mental health services did not do enough to help his son.

Scott Burke had a history of threatening to take his own life and had taken overdoses in the past, an inquest was told.

But when he told social workers he had thought about taking his life on the railway line at Blackpool following a visit to A&E for an overdose, concerns were not passed to his psychiatrist.

Speaking at an inquest at Blackpool Coroner’s Court, psychiatrist Dr Prince Ikwuagwu said his staff’s concerns were put onto an electronic system, but it was normal practice for him to have been made aware straight away.

He added: “I was not aware of that. If I had been I would have asked [his care co-ordinator] to book him in for an appointment with me either that day or within the week so I could fully assess what was going on.

“It should have been brought to my attention as soon as possible. It’s difficult to know what I would have done if I’d known.”

Mr Burke’s father, John, asked the doctor whether his team could have done any more to help his son.

Dr Ikwuagwu said: “We could have.”

The court heard the team could have referred Mr Burke, 33, to the Crisis team for additional help or have him admitted into hospital.

Dr Ikwuagwu said: “Normally we would make a referral to the Crisis team if a patient is not taking their medication or they are finding it difficult to tolerate. In the case of Mr Burke, even though he was expressing suicidal thoughts he was making plans for the future and was looking forward to it.

“This showed us we were able to work with him in the community.”

Hairdresser Mr Burke, of Princess Street, Blackpool, was seen walking along the railway line near to Blackpool Pleasure Beach station on May 22 shortly before 2.40pm.

Despite efforts by a police officer to call him away from the scene, he was struck by a train which was on its way to Squires Gate.

The inquest heard National Rail was improving its radio system which alerts drivers to dangers on the line, though such improvements wouldn’t have changed the outcome for Mr Burke.

Recording a verdict of suicide, Blackpool and Fylde coroner Alan Wilson said: “This is a very sad case involving someone with persistent mental health problems.

“I have no alternative but to conclude that Scott Burke took his own life.”

Speaking after Wednesday’s hearing, Mr Burke snr said: “Mental health services have let my son down – they could have done more and they’ve admitted that now.”