Almost 60% of preventable NHS deaths occur in mental health setting
NHS Patient Safety data has revealed that 2,182 deaths occurred across the NHS as a result of patient safety incidents in the six month period between March and September 2018.
Of these deaths, 59% (1286) occurred due to preventable incidents within mental health trusts. Across the NHS there are an average of 55.4 patient safety incidents per 1,000 bed days in mental health trusts as opposed to just 44.5 in a hospital setting. Furthermore, these incidents are eight times more likely to result in the death of a patient.
Over recent years there have been a number of inpatient bed closures across the mental health sector. Many services are being stretched to breaking point as a result of budget cuts and there not being enough inpatient beds to support the needs of their service users. Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust remains the only mental health trust in the UK to be placed in special measures and just last year announced that a further 36 beds would be closed across the region. It has recently been reported that as a result of this, around 50 patients requiring inpatient admission are being cared for by neighbouring Trusts and are sometimes being moved hundreds of miles away from their families and support networks.
Chartered Legal Executive Mark White from Ashtons Legal comments that: “Mental Health services in this country have been chronically underfunded for a number of years and service users are finding it increasingly difficult to access the services they need. Although conversations around mental health have improved in the last couple of years, this has not led to any discernible improvement in the quality of care provided to some of the most vulnerable patients within the NHS. Mental health needs to be recognised as being just as important as physical health and it is unacceptable that these patients are being exposed to a higher risk of death as a result of an under-resourced health system.”
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