Husband: I keep expecting her to walk through the door

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The husband of a woman who died after setting herself alight outside Whiston Hospital says he believes his wife did NOT intent to commit suicide.

Charlotte Woodward had been discharged from the hospital's mental health unit just hours before her horrific death.

The 29-year-old was admitted to hospital on Tuesday afternoon (September 11)after concerns were raised about her health. She had been battling bulimia for several years and was severely dehydrated.

Doctors asked for her to kept in overnight to monitor her condition and the following day a decision was taken to admit her to the Sherdley Unit, a ward for people suffering from mental health problems.

However, last Thursday afternoon (September 13) she was discharged and phoned her husband to ask to be collected from the unit.

Two hours later she doused herself in petrol outside the unit and set fire to herself. She was rushed to the hospital's burns unit but never recovered consciousness and died on Sunday.

Her husband Ian Woodward, 56, said: "I want to say a big thank you to the people who went to my wife's aid. I think in a situation like that you have to make a split second decision and those people ran to her aid. They did not think of their own safety.

"There is always a member of the public who will jump in to help.

"I'm told one gentleman burnt his fingers and hair trying to help. I have not met any of them but I would like to so that I can thank them in person."

The couple, from Borron Road, Newton-le-Willows, had been together for 11 years and married for eight.

Mr Woodward said: "I think it was an accident. Why would anyone put themselves at that sort of risk. I think she was trying to tell people she need further help. She had made previous attempts on her own life and was well known to the Five Borough Partnership."

Mrs Woodward had suffering from a number of mental health problems throughout her life, including severe depression. An inquest into her death was opened on Friday (September 21) and hospital bosses have launched an internal inquiry.

Despite being discharged at around 4pm, Mrs Woodward told her husband not to collect her from the Sherdley Unit until after 6pm because she needed to pick up medication. Shortly before 5pm, Mr Woodward received a phone call from hospital staff telling him of an 'incident'.

"They didn't tell me what had happened - they just said there had been an incident. Naturally, I went down straight away," said Mr Woodward.

"When I got there the area had been cordoned off and the police and ambulance service were there. I went inside and they explained to me what had happened and then I went see her. I was told right away that in cases like this survival rates were very low and to expect the worse."

Mr Woodward, who has two children and four grandchildren from a previous marriage, added: "I have moments of weakness where I can get really upset but I am coping. Like anyone who loses their wife or husband I keep expecting her to walk through the door at any time.

"She had spells of being really well and there have been times when she was really bad. She had suffered from mental health problems since she was 16. But every time she was taken into hospital it was always for her own safety, never to protect anyone else - she would never hurt anyone.

"As far as I am aware after she was discharged she was left to her own devices. That is what they are looking into. It is only after the event that people are starting to question their own judgement."