Firm that oversaw Jimmy Savile inquiries will conduct £50,000 review of unexpected deaths at mental health trust

Michael Scott, chief executive of the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust. Photo : Steve Adams

Michael Scott, chief executive of the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

An organisation that oversaw investigations into abuses committed by Jimmy Savile will carry out an independent inquiry into the number of unexpected deaths at our region's mental health trust.

The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) announced the review last month after it emerged it had the highest number of unexpected deaths in the country.

And if current trends continue, 2015-16 is likely to see it record its highest ever number of unexpected deaths, which refers to patients who die unexpectedly while in its care, or within six months of discharge.

Chief executive Michael Scott said the NSFT is a 'high reporter' of unexpected deaths and serious incidents, but said it also demonstrated 'low levels of harm to our patients'.

He said the review would be as in-depth and robust as possible, and added: 'Any urgent concerns or emerging issues would, of course, be immediately fed back to the board and operational leads, and actions put in place immediately.'

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The review will be carried out by Verita, which describes itself as 'the leading independent consultancy for regulated organisations in the UK'.

As well as its Savile work, it last year carried out an investigation after doctor Myles Bradbury was jailed for a string of sexual offences at Addenbrooke's Hospital.

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The NSFT has budgeted up to £50,000 for the review, which it said was not being diverted from frontline services.

The review will be split into two phases. The first, due to be ready by the end of May, will include:

• Comparing NSFT's rates of unexpected deaths with national trends;

• Reviewing the trust's internal investigation process to see if it rigorous enough for lessons to be learned, and families and carers are given the chance to contribute; and

• Identifying potential themes and priorities for action and effective systems for monitoring and sharing learning.

The second phase, due to be ready in the summer, will include:

• Examining NSFT's suicide prevention strategy;

• Looking at how it has progressed with the national requirements for mortality review; and

• A review of its governance around investigating deaths.

The trust has said the figures about having the highest number of unexpected deaths in England were unverified and not adjusted, and said NHS England issued a warning about the context in which it was being used.

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