Medical Negligence Lawyers At Irwin Mitchell Call For Urgent Improvements
Specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are calling for urgent improvements in mental health services after the first inquiry of its kind was launched to investigate the deaths of 1500 people under the care of Essex NHS Trusts.
The patients are said to have died in ‘unexpected, unexplained or self-inflicted’ circumstances between 2000 and 2020, reports The Guardian. The cases include children and young people, as well as adults.
It has been reported that the deaths occurred following a serious deterioration in the mental health of patients, and they died during their time as a mental health facility inpatient or within three months of discharge. It’s also stated that the NHS Trusts under investigation had previously received complaints over poor care.
Leading the inquiry is former national clinical director of mental health care at NHS England, Dr Geraldine Strathdee. She said some of the evidence collected included “unacceptable examples of dispassionate behaviours that families believe contributed to the death of their loved ones” and major changes were needed.
Dr Strathdee is looking into 21 key areas of care including trusts’ management of patients’ risk of self-harm and suicide, use of restraint and drug management.
So far, three recurring failings have been identified at the former North Essex and South Essex mental health trusts, and at Essex Partnership University NHS Trust which was formed in 2017 through the merging of the previous aforementioned Trusts. These are – serious concerns over patients’ physical, mental and sexual safety while on a ward, including claims of sexual harassment and assault; big differences in the quality of care provided to patients, “both in staff attitudes and in the use of effective treatments”; and patients and their families being given a lack of information about their treatment, expected length of stay and recovery chances.
The number of deaths has been called “a national scandal” by Inquest, a charity which investigates deaths in residential mental health care.
Expert Opinion“The inquiry findings to date are shocking and upsetting, and clearly outline the need for urgent improvements within the mental health services provided by the now merged Essex NHS Trust.
The fact that 1,500 patient deaths, across 20 years, are being investigated highlights the enormous scale of the problem, which has been referred to as a national scandal.
There are concerns over the safety of patients as well as reports that patients and their loved ones are not being given the information they should be regarding their care. This is nothing short of unacceptable, particularly given that most of the patients were highly vulnerable at the time. .
People with mental health illnesses are some of society’s most vulnerable people and it’s vital that they and their families receive the best possible care and support at all times.
As the inquiry continues, where failings have been identified, we urge that lessons are learned to improve patient safety.”
Anita Jewitt - Partner
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