Too Many Deaths: Public Inquiry Now!

Following our meeting with MPs and the Minister for Mental Health (Gillian Keegan) we are keeping up the pressure for action at NSFT. Politicians are focussed on a leadership contest and we need them focussed on mental health failings in our counties.

In the last two weeks we have come across more tragic deaths that are mental health related. There are so many we cannot keep up.

Channel 4 covered the story yesterday. You can view it here: https://www.channel4.com/news/bereaved-families-demand-that-failing-mental-health-trust-is-disbanded

More and more members are joining us and asking what they can do to help our campaign.

This is what you can do:

  1. Support us in our call for a statutory public inquiry to establish how many people have died and why. And for the government to disband the incompetent leadership and put NSFT into special administration.
  2. Save the date for our march in Norwich – Saturday October 8th. If we can manage the practicalities we will march in Ipswich too.
  3. Write to your MP and articulate your concerns and ask them to support the actions we are calling for. There is a template letter you can use below. If you have written to them before, write again. If they did not attend the meeting hosted by Clive Lewis on 5th July, ask them why not. If they have not replied to you, or their reply is not acceptable, let us know and we will put pressure on them via social media.
  4. Follow us on social media. Like and share our posts. Join in the public debates and tag in NSFT.
  5. Let us know about poor or unsafe practice you or someone you care about is experiencing. Also let us know about any deaths because unlike NSFT, we do value every life lost and we are trying to record them all.
  6. Consider sharing your story with the media. We never betray our sources and we can put you in touch with trusted journalists who can protect your anonymity if needed.

TEMPLATE LETTER: Copy, paste, and amend. The pieces in [] can be deleted.If you need a ‘word’ version please email us.

Dear [Name of MP]

RE: Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

I am a constituent of yours and am a [service user, family member of a service user, carer, bereaved family member, staff member however you wish to introduce yourself].

[BRIEFLY ADD HERE either your general concerns about mental health services or, better still, your personal experience.]

[IF YOUR MP attended the meeting hosted by Clive Lewis on 5th July, met with you, or replied to an earlier letter from you, then thank them and ASK THEM what they intend to do.]

I am sure that you were as frustrated and dismayed as I was by yet another CQC judgement of Inadequate. Despite 8 years of close attention and monitoring services are even more unsafe than they were. Too many people have died as a result of the failings in mental health services.

I hope that you will add your support to calls for a statutory independent inquiry. Unless there is a genuine understanding of how and why the whole system has failed so spectacularly and that all deaths are properly acknowledged, how can lessons be genuinely learned?

I am supporting the call by campaigners for the government to disband the leadership and governance teams at NSFT and place the trust into some form of special administration. It is more than 3 months since the CQC issued their enforcement notice giving NSFT 6 months to rectify unsafe practice. To the best of my knowledge, nothing has improved.

Our concerns are not limited to the lack of leadership at NSFT. We believe that there are significant gaps in legislation that it is within your power to address. The NHS is allowed to investigate itself following a death on a mental health ward or in the community. This is in stark contrast to deaths in police custody or following recent police contact and death in prison.

There are also major failings in the coroner process. There is no ‘join up’ between Coroner services in two counties. Both the Suffolk and Norfolk Coroner has issued Prevention of Future Deaths notices to NSFT that cover similar themes. There appears to be no external oversight of PFDs issued to the same organisation by different bodies, which is a missed opportunity for learning and intervention.

When a coroner issues a Prevention of Future Deaths notice NSFT has a set number of days to respond with a plan. There is then no external follow-up. The Trust is simply left to implement its own plan despite the failings that led to the PFD in the first place suggesting that they have limited ability to make safety improvements.

It is outrageous that NSFT has been allowed to effectively “mark its own homework” on investigating deaths and implementing changes in response to PFDs. We believe that these gaps in legislation have directly led to further harm, and for this unsafe situation to drift on for ten years.

Once you have heard stories from myself and others, including examples of how unsafe things continue to be right now, we also hope that you will agree to set up a meeting following the summer recess with the Minister for Health, the Minister for Mental Health, and the Minister for Justice.

I understand that as my MP, you have joined or at least been invited to briefings following the CQC report attended by NSFT, the CQC and NHSE&I. I do not feel that my voice has been heard and in order for you to exercise your responsibilities towards me, you need to listen to my concerns. I would welcome the opportunity for a 1:1 meeting with you to discuss my these.

Please forward my email to Gillian Keegan (the Minister for Mental Health who attended the meeting with our regions MPs) and ask her to support calls for special administration and a statutory public inquiry. Swift action is needed if more deaths are to be prevented.

I look forward to a prompt reply.

[include address and postcode as they won’t respond unless they can check you are a constituent]

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