This article was published on December 11th, 2015
An investigation looking into all deaths at the Southern Health Trust between April 2011 and March 2015, commissioned by NHS England, has revealed some damning results.
The independent audit has revealed that the NHS Trust failed to adequately investigate the unexpected deaths of more than 1,000 patients and, in particular, deaths of people with mental health issues or learning-disability.
The Southern Health Trust is one of the biggest mental health trusts, providing care to approximately 45,000 people predominantly in the counties of Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
The report found that of the 10,306 people that died within the time period, most were expected, but 1,454 were unexpected and needed further investigation. 272 of these were treated as critical incidents or SIRI’s (serious incident requiring investigation) which needed urgent attention, of which just 195 – 13% – were looked into.
The report also flagged that an investigation was more likely to happen for mental health patients than say patients with learning difficulties. Figures found that 30% of mental health cases were investigated compared with 1% of learning difficulty patients and 0.3% for over 65’s with mental health problems.
The commission report criticised the Trust, not only for the lack of proper investigations but also the quality of the ones they did carry out. Coroners complained about lateness and quality of reports provided by the Trust and there was only a minimal involvement with the families of the deceased.
An NHS England spokesman commented: “We commissioned an independent report because it was clear that there are significant concerns.
“We are determined that, for the sake of past, present and future patients and their families, all the issues should be forensically examined and any lessons clearly identified and acted upon.”
“The final full independent report will be published as soon as possible, and all the agencies involved stand ready to take appropriate action.”
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