The boss of Sussex's mental health services has apologised unreservedly for failings that led to the death of student Janet Muller

The Eastbourne student, 21, was found dead having been burned in the bootof a car after escpaing from Mill View hospital in Hove where she had been detained under the mental health act. 

Today - more than three years after Janet's death - the trustthat should have been caring for her has finally apologised to her family for failings in her care. 

Sam Allen, chief executive of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said: "Janet did not receive the care she should have from us.

"Words of apology from me cannot bring Janet back.

"I want to apologise unreservedly to Janet’s family. I have met with them and heard about the impact of their loss, as well as their experience of the criminal proceedings, Coroner’s inquest and civil proceedings that followed. I have apologised to them in person and agreed with them I would do so again in public.

"The awful events that happened after she absconded from our care will forever be borne by her family. I want to give my personal assurance that we have worked hard to address the shortcomings identified following Janet’s tragic, untimely death. Providing the best possible care is a continuous process of improvement. This is something we treat with the utmost seriousness.

"We did not recognise the extent of her desire to leave hospital, manage the risk of this happening or keep her clinical records up to date. We failed in our duty of care to Janet, for which I am truly sorry.

"Specifically, on the day before Janet died we did not keep her under close observation, even though she had already absconded before earlier that day. Following her return to the ward, we should have fully evaluated the risk of her trying to leave hospital again. We should then have made sure she was kept within eyesight of a member of staff at all times in order to support her and keep her safe.

"Clear and complete clinical records are a vital part of providing high quality care. However, Janet’s clinical records – including her care plan and risk assessment – were not kept up to date whilst she was under our care in hospital, even after she had absconded once."

"Meeting with Janet’s family reinforced to me the need to look long and hard at how we work with, listen to and support the families of people who use our services. It is so important we get this right and we will continue doing everything possible to achieve this." 

Read Janet's mother's exclusive account of the betrayal they suffered at the hands of mental health services and her grief after the loss of her daughter.