Government ministers have said they will revive meetings with MPs and bosses from the region's mental health trust amid concerns over care in Norfolk and Suffolk.

The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health care in the region, has struggled with poor performance for several years, although, last year, watchdogs upgraded its rating from 'inadequate' to 'requires improvement'.

An independent audit, last year, found more than 8,440 'unexpected deaths' among its patients in the space of three years.

Those are defined as where a patient has "not been identified as critically ill or death is not expected" but who has died within six months of being in the trust's care.

It will include suicides, cases where an inquest could not reach a ruling of suicide, and other deaths - but also those where a person has unexpectedly died by causes such as heart attack, stroke and accidents.

Eastern Daily Press: Mid Norfolk MP George FreemanMid Norfolk MP George Freeman (Image: Archant 2018)

In the House of Commons on Tuesday, George Freeman, Conservative MP for Mid Norfolk, highlighted that audit to health minister Marie Caulfield.

He said there was an "epidemic of silent suffering" because of undiagnosed and untreated mental health conditions in rural areas, while the Norfolk and Suffolk trust had "long struggled" with management problems.

He asked the minister: "Will she agree to meet me, other Norfolk and Suffolk MPs, and those affected to look at what is really going on here and make sure that we turn that trust into a beacon of the best mental health services, rather than the worst?"

Eastern Daily Press: Health minister Maria CaufieldHealth minister Maria Caufield (Image: UK Parliament)

Ms Caulfield revealed regular meetings with MPs, the mental health trust, the Care Quality Commission and NHS England had been held previously, but had ceased.

She said: "That trust did appear to finally be turning things around. However, I am concerned to hear the points [Mr Freeman] has raised.

"I am very happy to restart those meetings and will ask my office to arrange them as quickly as possible."

Eastern Daily Press: The issue of Norfolk and Suffolk's mental health services was raised in ParliamentThe issue of Norfolk and Suffolk's mental health services was raised in Parliament (Image: Press Association)

Caroline Donovan was appointed interim chief executive at the trust in October, when she said she was keen to build on improvements.