A sudden spike in the number of mental health patients dying unexpectedly in NHS care has prompted calls for a wide-ranging investigation into “threadbare” services that are “struggling to cope”.
New NHS figures show that the number of deaths annually among mental health patients in England has risen 21% over the last three years from 1,412 to 1,713.
The number of those killing themselves or trying to do so has also increased, by 26% from 595 in 2012-13 to 751 in 2014-15. It covers both those being treated as inpatients for serious mental health problems and also those who are being cared for while still living at home.
Figures obtained by Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat MP, show that the overall number of “serious incidents” – involving unexpected or avoidable deaths, serious harm, injury and abuse – has climbed 34% to 8,139 a year. They have become so common that one trust, North East London foundation trust, had a total of 633 last year – almost two a day.
Lamb, the mental health minister in the coalition until last May, made the comparison with the Mid Staffordshire scandal in which patients died as a result of poor care.
Full story in The Guardian 26 January 2016