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MPs demand action over deaths and injuries at Havering mental health trust

PUBLISHED: 12:00 29 January 2016

Havering's MPs Dame Angela Watkinson (left), Jon Cruddas (top right) and Andrew Rosindell (bottom right) have called for action to prevent 'serious incidents' in the future

Havering's MPs Dame Angela Watkinson (left), Jon Cruddas (top right) and Andrew Rosindell (bottom right) have called for action to prevent 'serious incidents' in the future

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MPs have called for urgent action as new figures show Havering’s mental health trust had the highest number of “serious incidents” in patient care in the country last year.

MPs have called for urgent action as new figures show Havering’s mental health trust had the highest number of “serious incidents” in patient care in the country last year.

All three MPs have backed the Recorder’s mental health campaign as NHS statistics reveal there were 1,611 investigations into care, including avoidable deaths, serious harm, injury or abuse, at NELFT NHS Foundation Trust in the past three years.

Serious incidents at the trust have more than doubled since 2012 and include 143 unexpected deaths and 59 deaths through suicide or suspected suicide.

NELFT has robustly challenged the figures saying they “do not correlate” with data it provided to NHS England and it is in contact over the disparity.

Only four trusts in the country had more than 1,000 such reports and it has raised fears that mental health provision locally is over-stretched.

Romford MP Andrew Rosindell said: “These findings are shocking and, as an east London MP, do not make for happy reading.

“I am glad the statistics have come to light so action can now be taken to ensure the better provision of healthcare for sufferers of mental health conditions.”

NELFT’s figures show there were 762 serious incidents in the past three years, but even this is the fifth highest in England.

Chief executive John Brouder said: “NELFT actively encourages staff to report incidents so we can learn as part of our continuous drive to improve. It is this improvement which has quite rightly led to NELFT being recognised as one of the highest performing and most innovative trusts in the country.

“The figures also reflect that NELFT is one of the biggest providers, serving a population of 2.8m people, with mental and community health services.

“Many of the other trusts we are compared to only serve a fraction of that number.”

The trust said serious incidents include falls and pressure ulcers and that unexplained deaths could include “someone dying of a heart attack in one of our community facilities”.

NHS trusts decide locally whether a serious incident investigation should be launched and report findings to NHS England. Nationally the numbers among mental health trusts have soared by 34 per cent in the past three years.

It comes after the launch of Recorder’s Mind Your Mental Health campaign to fight for increased access to mental health services, fairer funding and equality with physical health care.

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas said: “Mental health is often the area least discussed when we talk about general health or NHS issues – this has to change.

“These figures really do tell us that it has to become an absolute for politicians, health professionals and policy makers in our area – and that is why the Recorder’s campaign is vital.”

REACTION FROM MPs

Andrew Rosindell, MP for Romford, said: “I support the campaign to raise awareness about mental health and remove stigma from those affected by it, and I will press the government to reduce the number of serious incidents. I have also written to the chief executive of NELFT to express my concerns on this matter.”

Jon Cruddas, MP for Dagenham and Rainham, said: “These statistics are very worrying but I am not totally surprised. Many of the cases are my constituents and I would point to a number of reasons.

“Councils pushed by budget cuts are redrawing their eligibility criteria and this is pushing people away from council support and these people are redirected towards NELFT.

“Social services are closing centres countrywide, again placing more pressure onto NELFT.

“Queen’s Hospital continues to face huge challenges in terms of the amount of people it has to service and finally I would point to the growing problem of people being unable to get a doctors appointment for weeks on end which again pushes people with urgent mental health needs towards NELFT.”

Dame Angela Watkinson, MP for Hornchurch and Upminster, said: “This is very concerning. I shall be having urgent discussions with the chief executive to establish the facts and the steps being taken to avoid any similar incidents occurring in the future. One in four experience a mental health problem during their lifetime and it is right that mental and physical health treatment now has equal status within the NHS.”

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