The Eastern Daily Press reports:
The boss of Norfolk and Suffolk’s mental health trust has insisted the service is safe after “deeply distressing” data showing the highest number of “unexpected deaths” in the country,
Michael Scott, chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust, said it would be a tragedy if people were being scared away from seeking help as a result of the statistics.
Indeed it would be. However, what we are talking about is an increase of more than five times the national average in the number of unexpected deaths of people who had already sought help and were supposed to be receiving care from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT). It is ‘deeply distressing’ but it isn’t ‘safe’.
Figures show that there were 72 unexpected deaths in Norfolk and Suffolk between April and September last year, higher than any other trust in the country.
Mr Scott said that being a ‘high reporter’ represented a culture of openness where staff felt they could raise issues and therefore quickly put matters right.
Except, after the cuts and chaos of the radical redesign, bed closures and the loss of one third of NSFT’s doctors and twelve per cent of its nurses, the numbers of deaths continues to rise. Let’s not forget that NSFT refused to publish its own report into unexpected deaths. How is that a ‘culture of openness’?
A spokesman for the Campaign to Save NHS Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk, which was set up just over two years ago, said it had alerted regulators to the statistics.
“NSFT claimed its increase in unexpected deaths was in line with the national average when it was more than five times higher. “We said NSFT was in denial. Today’s figures show we were right,” he said.
He also said the issue had been raised with former mental health minister Norman Lamb when he was in power.
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