An internal investigation has been launched into mental health services in Suffolk and Norfolk after the number of patient deaths increased from 95 to 130 in a year.
It means that the average number of deaths, including in accidents and suicides by people known to professionals to be living with a mental health disorder, has risen from four per month in 2013/14 to six per month in 2014/15.
Death by natural causes and those related to drugs and alcohol are not included in the figure.
The figures were revealed in a report put to the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) board of directors yesterday.
It also showed that the number of serious incidents, which include the number of deaths, had risen from 172 to 228 in the same period.
A spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk said the rise in deaths followed a cut to the trust’s budget and a reorganisation of its services in 2013, which saw the number of beds and staff numbers reduced.
He called on the board to make the all of the data used to compile the figures public.
“The data appears to show a rise in the monthly suicide rate to approaching almost seven,” he said.
“That appears to be a very rapid rise. You seem to be a board that’s in denial.”
We have submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the information that NSFT refuses to release voluntarily.
NSFT said it did not hold data on the Access and Assessment Team when we asked for it under the FOIA. It later transpired NSFT did have the information.
NSFT took part in a sham consultation about whether wards which NSFT had already closed should be closed.
NSFT said it would not close beds until it was shown that the beds were no longer needed. But NSFT has repeatedly closed beds while people were still in out of area beds.
NSFT and the commissioners told the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee of Norfolk County Council in January 2014 that the use of out of area beds would end before May 2014. In fact, the crisis became even worse and NSFT has continued to send people in crisis out of area and close beds. Now, it is often impossible to find even private out of area beds costing £552 per night.
NSFT spent thousands of pounds of NHS funds with expensive lawyers in a futile attempt to stop us telling the truth.
NSFT greatly increased its expenditure on Comms and PR whilst cutting mental health services.
The Chair of NSFT claimed in a train crash interview on BBC Radio Suffolk that no beds were being closed in Suffolk and that he ‘didn’t recognise’ the pledge to stop the use of out of area beds. Until listeners texted BBC Radio Suffolk to point out that what Gary Page was saying was untrue.
NSFT refused to release the Alexander Report into the collapse of community services. In the end, it was leaked after Clive Lewis MP raised the matter with the Prime Minister in the House of Commons.
NSFT promised that the acute beds at Carlton Court would not close until new but fewer beds were built at Northgate Hospital. NSFT closed Waveney Acute Services last week. The new beds at the Northgate Hospital will not be available until November. Michael Scott refused to apologise for breaking his promise at this Board of Directors meeting – despite ‘keeping promises’ being one of the expensively-acquired new ‘values’ of the Trust.
Click on the image below to read Ellis Barker’s story in full on the EDP website: