Failure to investigate the deaths of mental health and learning disabled patients.
Reports have been published this week identifying the numerous concerns arising from failures of recent investigations into the deaths of NHS patients. There are also concerns arising from the independence and quality of these investigations.
An ongoing investigation, namely the Mazars investigation, has also recently uncovered appalling failures to investigate deaths of mental health and learning disabled patients.
The CQC Annual Report, entitled ‘Monitoring the Mental Health Act in 2014/15’, confirmed that on 31st March 2015 there were 19,656 patients detained under the Mental Health Act. The act itself has been used almost 55,000 times this year, a 10% increase upon 2014. With these figures in mind, the findings of the report were deeply concerning. Firstly, it was swiftly identified that there were vast variations in the application of the relevant Codes of Practice depending on location of the patient. Such variations can impact on the recovery time of a patient and directly affect the length of each individual’s detention.
The Report also highlights the lack of an independent organisation investigating the death of a patient in healthcare settings. It has been recommended that the Department of Health considers establishing a new system for investigations in order to work towards providing a combined approach.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman also published a report this week entitled, ‘A Review into the Quality of NHS Complaints Investigations’. Again, a distinct variation was observed within trusts with regard to approaching the investigation of patient’s safety incidents. There was noted to be a lack of shared investigatory principles or national guidance.
Recommendations urge the Department of Health and NHS England to develop broad principles of investigation, clarifying accountability, and conducting quality NHS investigations on both a national and local scale.
At present, the full publication of the Mazars report is awaited. INQUEST and their members will continue their campaigns, calling for a new independent system for deaths in detention.
If you have lost a loved one, we understand that the following investigation and Inquest proceedings can be upsetting and difficult to navigate. Here at Southerns Solicitors, we can help to guide you through the process providing you and your family with the support that you require. Call a member of our experienced team for advice:-
To read more about the work of Inquest and their campaigns, please visit their website:-
Nicole Frances Bridgman