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The government is “profoundly shocked” by the findings of a report which said the NHS failed to investigate the unexpected deaths of more than 1,000 people, Jeremy Hunt has said.
The health secretary spoke to the Commons in the wake of an NHS England report into mental health patients at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.
He offered a “heartfelt apology” to families affected.
The deaths of patients since 2011 were not properly examined, the report said.
Mr Hunt described the findings of the report – which was commissioned by NHS England and carried out by Mazars, a large audit firm – as “totally unacceptable”.
Southern Health is one of the country’s largest mental health trusts, covering Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire and providing services to about 45,000 people.
The report looked at all deaths at the trust between April 2011 and March 2015. During that period, it found 10,306 people had died. Most of these deaths were expected. However, 1,454 were not.
Of those, 272 were treated as critical incidents, of which just 195 – 13% – were treated by the trust as a serious incident requiring investigation (SIRI).
Mr Hunt told the Commons there was an “urgent need” to improve the investigation and learning from the estimated 200 avoidable deaths that happen every week across the system.
He outlined a three-point plan to try and improve the situation. This included:
- From June 2016, bringing in “Ofsted style” ratings for all 209 Clinical Commissioning Group areas in England
- The University of Bristol has been asked to carry out a study into the mortality rates of people with learning disabilities in NHS care
- Mr Hunt reiterated his commitment to publish, from next year, the number of avoidable deaths by NHS trust
Labour’s shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander described the findings as “truly shocking revelations”.
‘Disregard and disinterest’
The report was ordered in 2013, after 18-year-old Connor Sparrowhawk drowned in a bath following an epileptic seizure while a patient at Southern Health hospital in Oxford.
An independent investigation said his death had been preventable, and an inquest jury found neglect by the trust had contributed to his death.
His mother, Sara Ryan, told BBC News earlier the behaviour of the trust was “barbaric”.
She said: “I can’t express how shocked we were, we had no idea at the level of disregard and disinterest that Southern Health were demonstrating towards a group of their patients.
“Scrutiny should be put on other trusts across the country to see if this is common practice, you know, it’s absolutely barbaric.”
Key findings from the report
- The trust could not demonstrate a comprehensive systematic approach to learning from deaths
- Despite the trust having comprehensive data on deaths, it failed to use it effectively
- Too few deaths among those with learning disabilities and over-65s with mental health problems were investigated, and some cases should have been investigated further
- In nearly two-thirds of investigations, there was no family involvemenT
Read More: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35061716
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