A hospital has been criticised for “poor staff communication” after the death of a patient.

Lisa Cummings, 30, a schizophrenic, was found dead with a ligature around her neck at The Dene, a private medium secure hospital at Goddards Green, near Burgess Hill, nearly five years ago.

Miss Cummings, from London, who had been a patient at the hospital since 2001, was found by staff on June 7 2004.

She had been alone in her room, which she had locked, for about 15 minutes following a previous room inspection.

When staff unlocked the door they found her lying on the floor with a ligature made from the cord of her pyjama bottoms tied around her neck.

A post-mortem concluded the cause of death was self-strangulation. The lack of marks on her neck suggested she died of vasovagal inhibition, in which pressure on a certain part of the neck leads to almost instant death.

An inquest held shortly after she died recorded an open verdict.

But during the hearing Miss Cumming's mother Kathleen Corr made an emotional outburst blaming the hospital. She said: "Why wasn't something done? I can't take it. She would be alive if it wasn't for the hospital."

The verdict was quashed after Miss Cumming's family took legal action demanding a fresh inquiry.

The second inquest was held over seven days at Haywards Heath town hall over the last few months and this time a jury heard the evidence.

At the end of the hearing, the jury concluded Miss Cummings did not intend to take her own life and criticised procedures at the hospital, which specialises in treating women with mental health disorders.

The jury provided a narrative verdict which said: "While hospital policies covering recording of incidents and staff communication exist, not all clinical staff were sufficiently aware of the policies to ensure they were correctly adhered to."

The jury stated on the day she died Miss Cummings had been in a low mood and had made threats to kill herself.

A senior member of staff felt her risk of harm was sufficiently high that the door to her room was "locked off" to ensure she was not alone. But staff who came on duty later that day were unaware of the concerns and the door was unlocked without correct authorisation.

The jury stated: "The lack of a policy around locking doors is seen as a failing."

The jury's verdict stated that a combination of deficient recording in clinical records, lack of handover and poor verbal communication between staff meant that not all staff were aware of all the incidents relating to Miss Cummings that had raised concern that day.

The jury stated: "This in turn meant an accurate assessment of Lisa's risk of harm was not made."

The jury was told that the hospital reviewed its policies and procedures following Miss Cummings death.