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NHS mental health death reviews announced

Posted in: Medical Negligence Wrongful & Accidental Death 

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has recently announced that a review is to be carried out of the way deaths are investigated throughout the NHS. This follows the publication of a report by one of the country’s biggest mental health trusts, the Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. The report uncovered a “lack of leadership, focus and sufficient time spent” investigating deaths. Mr Hunt has decided to roll out a new review system across the entire NHS, determined that lessons will be learned from the report.

The report of Southern Health, which covers Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, followed the death of an 18-year-old boy in 2013. Connor Sparrowhawk drowned in a bath following an epileptic seizure while he was a patient at Southern Health hospital in Oxford. It was revealed that his death could easily have been prevented had the trust’s health workers not neglected his care needs.

“no effective action was taken”

The report was leaked to the BBC last week and showed that there were over 10,000 deaths within the trust between 2011 and 2015. Despite the fact that not all deaths required an investigation, a worrying 272 were investigated of the 722 reported unexpected deaths. It was also found that of the investigations that were made, many were of a “poor” quality and showed that “no effective action was taken”.

In a statement to Parliament, Mr Hunt wrote: “I am determined that we learn the lessons of this report, and use it to help build a culture in which failings in care form the basis for learning for organisations and for the system as a whole.

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