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‘You seem to be a board that’s in denial’ - number of deaths rise at Norfolk and Suffolk mental health trust

PUBLISHED: 07:46 25 September 2015 | UPDATED: 08:30 25 September 2015

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

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

Archant

An internal investigation has been launched into mental health services in Suffolk and Norfolk after the number of patient deaths increased from 95 to 130 in a year.

Hellesdon Hospital, headquarters of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Picture: James BassHellesdon Hospital, headquarters of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Picture: James Bass

It means that the average number of deaths, including in accidents and suicides by people known to professionals to be living with a mental health disorder, has risen from four per month in 2013/14 to six per month in 2014/15.

Death by natural causes and those related to drugs and alcohol are not included in the figure.

The figures were revealed in a report put to the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) board of directors yesterday.

It also showed that the number of serious incidents, which include the number of deaths, had risen from 172 to 228 in the same period.

Jane Sayer, director of nursing, quality and patient safety for the trust, told the board: “We know that from 2013 we are seeing far more people than we were seeing previously. We are not comparing apples with apples.

“Over a five-year period there are no significant trends in the number of suicides when we look at that by the rate of referral.”

A spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk said the rise in deaths followed a cut to the trust’s budget and a reorganisation of its services in 2013, which saw the number of beds and staff numbers reduced.

He called on the board to make the all of the data used to compile the figures public.

“The data appears to show a rise in the monthly suicide rate to approaching almost seven,” he said.

“That appears to be a very rapid rise. You seem to be a board that’s in denial.”

Board chairman Gary Page said: “We need to look at these incidents relative to the number of people that are using our services. That’s the analysis that’s being done.

“Everyone should wait to see that analysis before they start to draw their own conclusions. Everyone has a responsibility to wait to see the results before they start scaring people with only half the information.”

Trust chief executive Michael Scott said: “The fact of the matter is that 75pc of all suicides never have any contact with mental-health services.

“They are not people known to us.”

Do you have a story about mental health? Contact our health correspondent by emailing nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk


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