Woman found decomposing following catalog of care failures

A 37-year-old woman from east London was found decomposing after mental health services failed to check on her for weeks, an inquest has heard.

Sophia Yurferev was found by police at her home in Hornchurch on November 16, 2021, more than a month after her death.

The inquest into his death revealed that the mental health trust responsible for his care, the North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT), did not issue any welfare checks during this period.

However, the coroner said it was not possible to say whether earlier follow-up or attendance at his home by healthcare workers would have prevented his death.

According to a summary of the investigation, released by his family lawyers, Hodge, Jones & Allen, the trust did not check on Yurferev for a month, despite her not showing up for an appointment to receive antipsychotic treatment on October 12.

Lawyers for her family said: “Efforts were made to contact Sophia between November 8 and 15; however, they failed. The inquest heard that no concerns were raised by NELFT between October 12, 2021 and the time of Sophia’s death, due to “Covid-related staffing shortages” within the trust.

Yurferev moved from Siberia to the UK in 1998 with his mother, Maria Stockdale, and two siblings. When she was 19 her mental health deteriorated and in 2010 she was admitted to Newham Hospital under the Mental Health Act.

Between 2011 and 2016, she reportedly struggled with her mental health, experiencing multiple “psychotic episodes”.

Lawyers for her family said: “During this period, little help was offered to Sophia and her mother. In May 2016, Sophia had reached an all-time low. Realizing that she needed help, she continually asked for help via hospital admission, but her plea was ignored.

She was finally admitted to Goodmayes Hospital at the end of 2016, but was discharged without a “clear plan for follow-up”.

At the end of 2019, Yurferev stopped taking his medication and his health began to deteriorate. Following this, she was taken into care by Community Mental Health Services in Havering and given a prescription for the antipsychotic drug flupentixol decanoate to be given twice a week.

The trust had recorded her last attendance on October 12, but did not report her missing to police until November 12.

In a statement, Yurferev’s mother, Maria Stockdale, said: “I have no words to express how devastated I am, not only by the loss of my daughter but by the way she died. She was supposed to be taken care of by professionals and failed many times. If she had received the care and support she needed, I believe she would be alive today.

Solicitor working on Sophia’s case, Nina Ali, medical negligence partner at Hodge, Jones & Allen, said: ‘This is yet another tragic case of mental health professionals failing in their duty to protect our most vulnerable members of society. It was clear that Ms Yuferev needed professional help, but she received very little support throughout her treatment. We are saddened by the conclusion which, thanks to the state of Sophia’s body when it was discovered, resulted in only limited answers for the family. Nevertheless, we still hope that this will serve as a lesson to all mental health care services.

A NELFT spokesperson said: “We would like to extend our sincere condolences to Sophia’s family and loved ones. We have worked with the family to provide ongoing support and access to family liaison.

“As per our trust’s serious incident process, we have undertaken a review of the care provided and are implementing learning as a result of this review.”