Mental Health campaigners have welcomed the commissioning of an investigation into the increase in the number of unexpected deaths of patients suffering from mental health problems in The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. In the year 2012-13 there were 61 deaths and in 2014-15 the number had risen to 129. This is higher than other UK mental health trusts.
Following a Freedom of Information request by the Liberal Democrats the figures were released earlier this week. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) placed the trust in special measures last year when it described the service as “not safe”. Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk, Norman Lamb, who was former coalition health minister, stated that the investigation “raise really serious concerns”. He pointed out that the “dramatic rise in unexpected deaths and suicides” comes at a time “when real terms funding has gone down”.
Chief executive of the trust, Michael Scott, said: “Commissioning an investigation by an independent organisation shows how committed our board is into seeking clarity about what has caused this rise”. He went on to say that the investigation was about reassuring “those who find the figures alarming”.
Campaign to Save Mental Health Services representative Anne Humphreys stated that her organisation had been pushing for an investigation for more than two years. She said: “we need an inquiry that is thorough and its recommendations fully implemented to prevent deaths and suffering for bereaved families”.
Results from the investigation should be published in around three months.