THE GRIEVING parents of a young woman who killed herself at Beachy Head have paid tribute to their daughter after her inquest and revealed they still have unanswered questions about her mental health treatment.

Peter and Pat Lambert described veterinary nurse Nikki Lambert, 33, who fell from Beachy Head last October, as “a dedicated family person who always put family first”.

They welcomed a comment at the inquest on July 5 by East Sussex Coroner Alan Craze that a decision by mental health care professionals at Mill View Hospital in Hove, for people with mental health problems, not to detain her as “wrong”. Mr Craze recorded a conclusion of suicide.

Twelve hours after being assessed by three experts, Nikki left the facility when it was concluded she was not under a mental disorder that required sectioning. Later the same day, she died at Beachy Head.

“At the end of the day, what we wonder is how come within 12 hours of being believed to be vulnerable and at risk and after a recommendation that when the police found her that she was detained and thoroughly assessed, she was deemed OK to be discharged 12 and a half hours later?” said Mr Lambert.

“I will always hold the three people at Mill View responsible for sending Nikki to her death for taking the wrong decision. If they had made the correct decision, she could still be here. They made a decision they thought was right but it was wrong.

“They didn’t listen to us, the people who knew Nikki best. It felt as though we were hitting our heads against a brick wall.”

He added: “It has all been a great strain.”

A statement by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Mill View Hospital, reads: “Our thoughts are with Miss Lambert’s family at this very sad time and we offer our sincere condolences.

“Our clinical staff make difficult and complex decisions about the most appropriate care for patients every day. As disclosed at the inquest, the last time Miss Lambert was assessed by two doctors and an Approved Mental Health professional, it was agreed that it was not appropriate to detain her in hospital.

“In accordance with our standard procedures, we have carried out a serious incident investigation following this tragic accident. We have a Trust Wide care panel which is made up of clinicians from across our services who meet together to discuss complex cases.

“Following the investigation, we have set up an additional local complex care panel which allows clinicians to meet more frequently as a multi-disciplinary team with senior colleagues to discuss individual cases at a local level.”

Mrs Lambert described her daughter, who worked at the RSPCA’s Mallydams Wood centre at Fairlight, as a “bright and hard-working” person who had always loved animals. A former pupil at Seaford Head Community College, she had trained in animal care at Plumpton College and moved to St Leonards in 2009, where she kept a menagerie of pets, including an 8ft long boa constrictor, two cats, a springer spaniel, five guinea pigs, two skinny guinea pigs and fish.

Nikki was “just a normal person” who was “friendly and happy” and saving up for a house, said Mr Lambert, until she began to suffer heart problems at the age of 28.

Already battling with a pituitary problem, she underwent 22 heart operations and had pacemakers fitted six times. It was after the sixth pacemaker was fitted that thing began to go wrong.

“For four years, she was in and out of hospital and during all that she was doing well,” said Mr Lambert. “But after her last heart operation in April 2016, she went in to hospital fine and came out a different woman. Her personality had changed. She was obviously depressed and ill.”

In December 2016, she blacked out as she was driving her car and crashed. “Physically she walked away from it OK, but they revoked her driving licence and she was virtually confined to her flat,” said Mrs Lambert. “A week later, she had a bad spell of depression and between April and October, she was up and down.”

On October 9, 11 days before her death, Nikki joined her family for a meal to celebrate her father’s birthday. “There was no indication of anything wrong - we didn’t know,” said Mr Lambert. “She said she had lost two stone in weight and she seemed quite happy. We thought she was recovering but she wasn’t. She seemed to to be able to convince people she was OK.”

A tearful Mrs Lambert said she knew something was wrong when she and her husband returned home after a few days away on October 18 and she texted Nikki to let her know they were back.

“We usually exchanged jokey texts but this time she didn’t,” she recalled. “She didn’t reply for a while and then when she did, she just texted ‘Glad you’re home safe. Take care.’ I rang her and she said she wasn’t very happy at the moment and that she was walking. She asked me what would I do with her dog if she died.”

On October 19, Nikki took an overdose of paracetamol and then refused treatment at A&E. She disappeared the following day, when the police - who the Lamberts describe as “brilliant” - were alerted and she was tracked by her mobile phone to Worthing and taken to Mill View Hospital.

At an assessment for sectioning by the three experts it was concluded that she did not require sectioning. Her family said that at this stage they phoned Mill View during the night to convince them to detain their daughter for her own safety, But Nikki left Mill View the following morning and her body was found at Beachy Head later that day.

Mr and Mrs Lambert, who also have two sons, Stuart and Simon, and four grandchildren, said in a statement at the inquest: “No-one seemed to listen to us, that she was in distress. We told professionals she was not OK, but they wouldn’t listen.”

Mr Lambert told The Argus: “I want something to happen. They always say lessons have been learnt - until the next time.”

And Mrs Lambert added: “A 40-minute assessment is not long enough to know someone. It is family and friends who know the person. Nothing can change what has happened but I would like to think lessons have been learnt and that their priorities change so they know the person better.

“We never got an apology. It would mean something, wouldn’t it?”