MPs call for action over ‘serious incidents’ at mental health trust

Barking MP Margaret Hodge and Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas

Barking MP Margaret Hodge and Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas - Credit: Archant

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

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.

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.”

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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.

Barking MP Margaret Hodge said: “This is a very important investigation by the Barking and Dagenham Post.

“I will immediately take these findings and seek a meeting with the person responsible for this at the trust. If true, this is simply not good enough.

“Patients deserve better. I will continue to fight to ensure that residents in the borough receive the first-rate health service they expect.”