‘Worrying’ Shortage Of Mental Health Deaths Reported To Coroners

Investigation Finds Many Patients May Have Been Denied Inquests


Oliver Wicks, Press Officer | 0114 274 4649

Leading lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are deeply concerned by a ‘worrying’ investigation that claims hundreds of patients who died while detained under the Mental Health Act may have been denied inquests.

The law firm works closely with many families who’ve lost a loved one due to mental health problems and believe that, however difficult it may be, understanding why and how a death occurred is the key to preventing further tragedies in the future. 

Data supplied to the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody show 1,115 deaths of people detained under the Mental Health Act between 2011 and 2014.

However, Official Ministry of Justice figures analysed by the Health Service Journal show that just 373 deaths were reported to coroners in England and Wales during that period.

If the data is accurate then this means 742 people died without there being any subsequent investigation into their death.

Health watchdogs are currently examining NHS investigations into the deaths of patients, amid concern that the deaths of those with learning disabilities have not been reviewed properly.

Tom Fletcher, an expert medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell is deeply concerned by the findings of the investigation.

We can help you to claim compensation for clinical negligence if a serious injury or fatality has occurred as a result of inadequate supervision and care. See our Mental Health Negligence Compensation page for more information.

Expert Opinion
“It’s worrying to see these findings and to have to consider the very real prospect that hundreds of mental health deaths have not been properly investigated.

“Through the job we do supporting families and survivors of mental health problems and charities that work to prevent tragedies, it is clear how important it is to understand what happened and to learn from it.

“There have been high-profile cases in recent years in which people in care and their families have been failed by the mental health service, often leading to severe injuries and in many cases, tragic fatalities.

“Whilst we welcome the on-going review into this by the Care Quality Commission, today’s reports raises serious questions as to whether vital inquests into deaths are not taking place and that is unacceptable.

“Not only do families deserve closure after the death of a loved one, it’s vital to understand exactly what happened to ensure that nothing could have been done to prevent a tragedy taking place and to try stop it reoccurring in the future.

“The appropriate resources and standards must be in place across the NHS to ensure that anyone who dies whilst being detained under the Mental Health Act is reported to a coroner, so a thorough investigation can then take place.”
Tom Fletcher, Associate

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