Charlotte Bevan death: Family pay tribute to new mother and baby – 'My beautiful daughter and granddaughter are now at peace'

NHS to investigate why baby and mother found dead in gorge were allowed to walk out of hospital

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The Independent Online

The family of a mother and newborn baby found dead after disappearing from a hospital two days previously have said the pair are "now at peace".

The body of Charlotte Bevan was discovered in a deep ravine on Wednesday night. Police officers located the body of her daughter soon after following "intensive" searches.

Ms Bevan, who suffered from mental health issues, was wearing hospital slippers while her daughter, Zaani Tiana, was wrapped in just a blanket when they left in cold weather.

Ms Bevan's mother Rachel Fortune, 59, paid tribute to her daughter and granddaughter in a statement issued through Avon and Somerset Police.

"My beautiful daughter and granddaughter are now at peace," she said.

"The family would like to thank all the friends of Pascal, Charlotte and Zaani, some of whom we have only met today.

"We would also like to say thank you for all the messages from everyone."

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CCTV footage of Charlotte Bevan leaving Bristol Maternity Hospital with her 4 day old daughter

Universities Hospitals Bristol Trust has said it has launched an investigation into the care mother and baby received.

A spokeswoman said the review would assess "if there was anything we could have done to prevent this tragic and unexplained death."

Charities have responded by urging women to be provided with support and assured it's “OK not to be OK” and be made aware of potential mental health issues during pregnancy, a post-natal depression charity has urged the day after a woman and her baby went missing and were later found dead in a gorge.

Advice for mothers from the Pre and Postnatal Depression Advice and Support Foundation (Pandas) comes after Charlotte Bevan, 30, left Bristol Maternity Hospital unannounced at around 9pm on Tuesday, with baby Zaani Tiana Bevan Malbrouck in her arms.

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Avon and Somerset Police during the search at Avon Gorge for missing mother Charlotte Bevan and her newborn baby girl Zaani Tiana Bevan Malbrouck

Ms Bevan’s body has since been found and identified, and a baby girl, who police believe is Zaani, was found nearby. Her boyfriend, Pascal Malbrouck, said Ms Bevan had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and depression, and believed she was sleep deprived since giving birth.

It is not yet clear whether the new mother had been diagnosed or treated for pre or post natal depression, or what treatment she had received while at Bristol Maternity Hospital.

Read more: Police release CCTV footage in appeal for Bristol mother
Police find woman's body in Avon Gorge

“Our thoughts go out to Charlotte Bevan family and friends at this difficult time, and would like to offer the support if they need to speak to anyone,” said Rachael Dobson Co-Founder and CEO of Pandas.

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Pascal Malbrouck the boyfriend of Charlotte Bevan

“All new mothers feel some degree of pressure in relation to the expectations of motherhood.

“After giving birth there is a shift in hormones which I would say increased mothers’ vulnerability. There is support available and everyone should be aware that ‘Its OK not to be OK’, and as a society we should feel able to talk about our struggles,” she added.

She went on to stress that all pregnant women must be made aware that they could potentially suffer from mental health issues, so both they and their loved ones can be vigilant of symptoms.

“There needs to be a shift into being proactive and not reactive in terms of care for any mental health, highlighting antenatal depression, postnatal depression, postpartum psychosis and other perinatal mental illnesses during pregnancy would make individuals and families aware of what to look out for,” she said.

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Charlotte Bevan, 30, who has gone missing with her new baby

Ms Dobson called Ms Bevan’s case “tragic and “preventable”.

“We acknowledge the care given within the NHS is the best that they can do given how stretched the services are however. This will be looked into by the trust.”

Mental health officials should help women with a history of mental illness to plan their post-natal care so they are aware of what treatment they may need and receive, said Ms Dobson, adding that this method in turn makes families aware of any precautionary measures.

Earlier this year, parenting charity the National Childbirth Trust warned there were “huge gaps” in support and care for the mental health of new mothers by the NHS England.

Research from 194 clinical commissioning groups showed that as few as 3 per cent of clinical commissioning groups had a peri-natal mental health strategy in place.

Of those CCGs with no strategy in place, 60 per cent said they had no plans to establish one, BBC News reported.

A spokeswoman from the University Hospital Bristol said that they were unable to make specific comments about Ms Bevan’s case due to on-going duty of confidentiality.

However, she added: “We are deeply saddened to hear the news of the death of Charlotte Bevan and offer our heartfelt condolences to her family.

“While it remains unclear as to how Charlotte died, we will be conducting a thorough review of the care Charlotte and her baby received to see if there was anything we could have done to prevent this tragic and unexplained death.

She added that the facility could not have stopped them from leaving, as access to the maternity wards at St Michael's Hospital is restricted but patients are able to release the doors from the inside to let themselves out.

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