Under fire NHS bosses have hit back at calls for a public inquiry into mental health deaths - saying the process would hamper the ability to provide care.

But the response from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation has sparked fury among the campaigners wanting an investigation. 

This week, calls for a public inquiry into mental health deaths in the region have intensified, following the tragic deaths of a family of four in Costessey.

In the space of a few days, leading councillors in Norfolk have written to the government asking for the probe to be launched - while similar calls have also come from campaigners and MPs.

But in a joint statement, bosses from NSFT and the region's integrated care board (ICB) revealed they too have written to health secretary Victoria Atkins warning against the inquiry.

Eastern Daily Press: NSFT chief executive Caroline DonovanNSFT chief executive Caroline Donovan (Image: NSFT)

It reads: "Although we have deep sympathy for everyone who has lost a loved one, we know that unfortunately, any public inquiry into events covering a decade or more requires an enormous amount of time and energy from current leaders and staff, inevitably compromising the services provided today and the continuing efforts to improve them.

"We have asked the secretary of state to consider the pace, growing strength and focus of the partnership working between both ICBs and NSFT, led by its new chief executive officer Caroline Donovan, to deliver the changes needed in our mental health services, in partnership with service users, carers, bereaved families and our communities.

"There is a very firm commitment from all organisations and individuals to make these important and sustainable changes for the communities we serve.” 

The claim has sparked fury from campaigners who have been leading the calls for an inquiry for several years.

Eastern Daily Press: Labour county councillor Emma Corlett. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Former mental health nurse Emma Corlett said: "I am not surprised that the local health system does not want its actions, or lack of actions, under scrutiny of a statutory independent inquiry.

"There has been a total absence of any accountability for the scandalous levels of harm caused to date.

"Their response shows the lack of genuine awareness that they have of the day-to-day reality for people struggling to get a service and the front line staff struggling to provide care in a broken system."