EDP: Letter: Shocking Figures Reveal Impact of cuts on Mental Health Services

The EDP printed this letter from the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk on Saturday 18th June 2016:

Dear Editor

So, the Independent Inquiry into the deaths of patients under the care of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has concluded that the number of these deaths is no worse than the national average. They say this even though they admit that the data is not available to make proper comparisons. Our Campaign is really disappointed with the Inquiry Report as it tells us nothing as to how further deaths can be prevented.

The important and shocking fact is that the number of deaths is still rising: there were 88 deaths in 2012-2013, 157 deaths in 2014-2015, and in the first 3 months of this year there have been 45 deaths. These are shocking figures and in our view reveals the impact of £40 million cuts to local mental health services imposed in 2012.

The fact that NSFT spins the headline that they are no worse than the national average reveals at best a sense of fatalism about preventing suicides [, at worst a complacency]. In 2013 Adam Gretton of the EDP reported on a sudden rise in unexpected deaths of mental health patients (20 in 5 months). The Trust showed the same level of complacency then. Peter Jefferys, a non executive director of the Trust, was asked to conduct a review. To quote, he says “There has been a bit of a spike in the last 6 months and we sometimes get clusters where this happens.” And again from Roz Brooks, the then director of nursing in the Trust,  “..the prevalence of community deaths in Norfolk is in keeping with what is happening both regionally and nationally.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

It is clear that the Trust cannot provide a safe service with the current level of funding. They should be shouting this from the roof tops. In the meantime they should conduct a real inquiry so that we can identify where the serious fault lines are and give them some priority.

…on behalf of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk

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