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Deaths at mental health trust due to safety incidents rise by 75pc

Hellesdon Hospital. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Hellesdon Hospital. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Serious safety incidents led to 35 deaths at the region’s mental health trust over a six month period, figures have revealed.

The data, which showed the number of “unintended or unexpected incidents that could have or did lead to harm” reported between October 2017 and March 2018, showed a rise from 20 deaths in the same period the previous year.

This was despite the overall number of incidents reported falling from 5,146 to 4,787 in the same time frame and the majority of incidents (77pc) resulting in no harm.

Data was also previously released for the region’s other health trusts and reported by this newspaper on November 2, but Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) initially disputed the figures.

NSFT has now confirmed they were correct, however Dawn Collins, director of nursing, quality and patient safety, said there had been an increasing number of people referred to their services and figures now included those who died up to six months after discharge.

Dawn Collins. Photo: Norfolk and Suffolk NHS FTDawn Collins. Photo: Norfolk and Suffolk NHS FT

At the same time the trust’s latest annual report said unexpected deaths dropped by around 25pc between 2016/17 and 2017/18 - from 184 to 137.

Ms Collins said: “Every loss of life has a significant impact on family, friends and the wider community. It is the trust’s objective to continue to develop services using a framework for investigation and learning.

“The figures provide a snapshot of what is a dynamic system that is changing all the time. The data is intended to highlight overall trends and themes and come with a number of caveats.

“Further analysis informs that a higher risk group is men aged 41 to 60 which is experienced nationally. This is a matter of focus for both the county and trust suicide prevention strategies.”

Kathy McLean, executive medical director at NHS Improvement, previously told the Health Service Journal (HSJ) that comparing safety incidents year-on-year could be “misleading”, and said it would be more useful to look at three years of data.

However, in the regulator’s own report it compared the year-on-year statistics. The report said: “Increases in the number of incidents reported reflects improved reporting culture and should not be interpreted as a decrease in the safety of the NHS.”

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