A MENTAL health patient was found strangled to death in her hospital bed with an item of clothing tied around her neck, an inquest was told.

Julie Francis, who had been sectioned at the Meadowbank Unit, a mental health facility on the site of the Salford Royal Hospital, had a history of self-harm and suicide attempts and died during a 15-minute window between checks by nurses.

The cause of her death, on April 23, 2012, was found to be pressure to the neck.

Miss Francis had earlier said she was depressed and could hear voices telling her what a "bad person".

She also would not allow nurses to examine her neck, saying it infringed her human rights.

Pathologist Dr Philip Lumb, who conducted Miss Francis's post-mortem, found no evidence of third-party involvement.

Miss Francis, aged 42, from Little Hulton, had been a mental health patient at the hospital for about 18 months.

There had been three other incidents in the month before her death involving ligatures tied round her neck.

On March 23, she was found with blue lips with a ligature round her neck, before being discovered in the same state in the toilet on April 1. There was another incident the next day.

Nurses reported that Miss Francis appeared to be asleep, and that her chest was rising, when they checked her at 6.45pmon the night of her death.

A plan was in place at the time of her death to reduce the risk of self-harming by checking on Miss Francis every 15 minutes.

When they returned at 7pm, her duvet was pulled up around her neck and when it was removed, they found the item of clothing round her neck.

She entered cardiac arrest and was declared dead at 7.40pm after 20 minutes of resuscitation attempts.

Dr Lumb said that the 15-minute period was enough time for someone to die from pressure to the neck.

He said people could lose consciousness 10 seconds after a ligature was applied and die within three to five minutes.

Dr Lumb added: "The only thing I cannot assess is how long it took to apply the clothing around her neck.

"I found no evidence of restraint or physical assault, and no evidence of third-party involvement."

A statement from Babatune Momoh, a nursing assistant on the ward, was read to the court.

She said Miss Francis had complained that the regular checks on her neck, stipulated after a risk assessment had been carried out, infringed her human rights when she had conducted a check.

Miss Francis reiterated this later when she was having a cigarette in the garden, although she did later consent to her neck being checked.

The hearing, expected to last until Wednesday at Bolton Coroner's Court, continues.