Findings from unexpected deaths inquiry at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust ‘will be shared publicly’

Hellesdon Hospital, the home of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Photo: Bill Smith

Hellesdon Hospital, the home of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2012

The region's mental health trust has confirmed the findings of an inquiry into the rise of unexpected deaths will be shared publicly.

Michael Scott, chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), said the trust was 'extremely keen' to assure people it is a transparent and open organisation.

His comments came after the announcement on Thursday of an independent inquiry into the rise in deaths over the last four years.

The deaths refer to patients who died unexpectedly while in the care of the trust, or within six months of discharge. In 2012/13 the trust reported 53 such deaths, but this figure rose to 139 last year.

The inquiry was welcomed by Dr Jon Higgins and his wife Ann, the parents of King's Lynn man Christopher Higgins, a trust patient who killed himself in 2013.

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They called on the inquiry to cover all deaths since 2013 and that it was 'fully independent of the NHS'.

NSFT said it has a candidate in mind to carry out the inquiry, but did not wish to identify them until a contract has been signed.

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A start date has also yet to be confirmed, but the trust wants the inquiry to be completed within three months from now.

Mr Scott said: 'Should any patient identifiable data be part of the investigation report, efforts would appropriately be made to anonymise those details.

'At this stage it is not known if this would even be an issue in this investigation, but we feel it important to be clear should this occur.'

'There are possibly people who will find these types of reports worrying and they may have even been deterred from seeking the help that we offer and they need. We would like to assure people that our services are safe and urge that they should continue to access our support.'

The trust, which will record a deficit of £9.4m in 2015/16, has yet to say how much the inquiry will cost.

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