Deaths Crisis: EDP: Deaths at mental health trust due to safety incidents rise by 75pc

Geraldine Scott of the Eastern Daily Press reports:

Serious safety incidents led to 35 deaths at the region’s mental health trust over a six month period, figures have revealed.

The data, which showed the number of “unintended or unexpected incidents that could have or did lead to harm” reported between October 2017 and March 2018, showed a rise from 20 deaths in the same period the previous year.

That’s a staggering increase of seventy-five per cent. Yes, 75 per cent.

We have longstanding and serious reservations about the way Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) reports unexpected deaths and to NRLS.

In its Annual Report & Accounts 2017-18, NSFT claimed unexpected deaths have fallen by twenty-five per cent from the previous year.

NSFT typically didn’t say that the number of unexpected deaths in 2017-18 is 54 per cent higher than in the trust’s first full year of operation in 2012-13.

How is it that the number of unexpected deaths of NSFT patients attributable to natural causes has fallen by 43 per cent in a single year, from 47 to 22? Are NSFT patients suddenly much healthier or has NSFT has been far more aggressive in removing deaths from natural causes earlier in the reporting process to reduce the headline number of unexpected deaths?

Data was also previously released for the region’s other health trusts and reported by this newspaper on November 2, but Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) initially disputed the figures.

NSFT has a long and shameful track record of denying its own shameful data.

Remember, this is the mental health trust which removed the number of unexpected deaths from its own Annual Report and Accounts when it became too embarrassingly high.

NSFT has now confirmed they were correct, however Dawn Collins, director of nursing, quality and patient safety, said there had been an increasing number of people referred to their services and figures now included those who died up to six months after discharge.

This excuse is nonsense. The trust has reported deaths ‘up to six months after discharge’ since at least 2012-13. Nothing has changed.

Dawn Collins told the EDP:

“Every loss of life has a significant impact on family, friends and the wider community. It is the trust’s objective to continue to develop services using a framework for investigation and learning.

We’ve had to fight NSFT every step of the way to force it to take patient deaths seriously.

One of the questions at the recent NSFT AGM was about the appalling way NSFT treats the bereaved.

Collins continues:

“The figures provide a snapshot of what is a dynamic system that is changing all the time. The data is intended to highlight overall trends and themes and come with a number of caveats.

So what? The ‘snapshot’ of the ‘dynamic system’ has increased by 75 per cent. The EDP is simply reporting the ‘overall trends and themes’.

It is NSFT’s statements to the press and reporting to NRLS that need to come with ‘caveats’.

Collins continues:

“Further analysis informs that a higher risk group is men aged 41 to 60 which is experienced nationally. This is a matter of focus for both the county and trust suicide prevention strategies.”

Again, so what does that have to do with this 75 per cent increase?

Kathy McLean, executive medical director at NHS Improvement, previously told the Health Service Journal (HSJ) that comparing safety incidents year-on-year could be “misleading”, and said it would be more useful to look at three years of data.

That’s why we’ve examined data since 2012-13 and the increase in deaths is sustained and shameful.

Kathy McLean needs to look at the data and the role of NHS Improvement and its so-called Improvement Director, Philippa Slinger, in NSFT’s repeated failure. NHS Improvement has serious questions to answer.

Click on the image below to read the story in full on the EDP website:





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