Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust report on deaths was watered down to “spare bosses”, according to the BBC

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In an article by the BBC on 29 August 2023, it appears that auditors Grant Thornton revealed how the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust (NSFT) had “lost track of patient’s deaths”. It also revealed that “language around governance failures was missing in the final report” but that the changes were due to fact-checking.

Campaigners have long been critical of the NSFT’s failures in reporting the actual number of deaths, saying that “they suspect the first report is a lot nearer to the truth”. Ms Aldridge, who lost her son Tim in 2014, has said that the final report takes responsibility away from the Trust by replacing words and watering down significant parts of information, which is inaccurate and fails to mention the “culture of fear” amongst some staff members.

A link to the 60-page report by Grant Thornton can be accessed and read in full: NSFT Report

It highlights that referrals to its children and young people’s services have almost doubled, and there are not enough staff to deal with demand; additionally, there have been some reports of staff being asked not to record every incident on patient safety records and that demand far exceeds the Trusts available capacity.

The NSFT Chief Executive, Stuart Richardson, is quoted as saying: “Over the last year, we have introduced safer ways of working and supported colleagues to raise concerns or ask questions so that we can address and help resolve them at the time” and that they have been “open and honest about the failings highlighted in the report and are committed to bringing about the improvements that our service users and staff deserve”.

Amanda Cavanagh, Associate in the Medical Negligence team at Ashtons Legal, comments: “As someone who represents Clients who have lost loved ones to suicide, words are cheap. It is a sad fact that nothing seems to change. Mental health issues are becoming more commonplace, especially in young people. The emphasis must be on more investment in qualified staff and safer places to treat these patients to stop these tragic deaths from occurring. But, if something terrible does happen, learn from your mistakes, don’t add insult to injury by attempting to manipulate the information, and have an open and honest dialogue with those families affected and the wider public; it is the only way forward”.

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