COMMUNITY leaders are demanding answers after it was revealed the NHS failed to investigate the unexpected deaths of more than 1,000 people.
An investigation found that a ‘failure of leadership’ at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust meant the deaths of mental health and learning-disability patients were not properly examined.
The trust runs mental health and learning disabilities services in south-east Hampshire.
The report, commissioned by NHS England and carried out by auditor Mazars, looked at more than 10,000 deaths at the trust between April 2011 and March 2015, of which 1,454 were unexpected.
The draft report, which was leaked to the BBC, found just 195 – 13 per cent – were treated as a ‘serious incident requiring investigation’ and the likelihood of an unexpected death being investigated depended hugely on the type of patient.
The deaths of adults with mental health problems were the most likely to be investigated, with 30 per cent of cases examined.
But the figure fell to just one per cent for patients with learning disabilities and 0.3 per cent among over-65s with mental health problems, the BBC reported.
The report found investigations were of a poor quality and often extremely late, while there were repeated criticisms from coroners about the timeliness and usefulness of reports provided for inquests by Southern Health.
Havant MP Alan Mak said he would be meeting the chief executive of Southern Health and said ‘lessons need to be learned’.
Leigh Park councillor Liz Fairhurst, who oversees adult services in Hampshire, said: ‘I have not seen the report, but it sounds concerning.’
Denmead councillor Patricia Stallard, who oversees health in Hampshire, told The News: ‘I will expect to have follow-up discussions with Southern Health and will seek reassurances that all possible measures have been put in place to address the issues.’
A statement from Southern Health said: ‘The board has fully accepted that the quality of processes for investigating and reporting a patient death, whilst improving, needed to be better.
‘They had not always been up to the high standards our patients, their families and carers deserve.
‘However we have already made substantial improvements in this area over a sustained period of time.’
The improvements include ‘strengthening the executive oversight of the quality of investigations’ and setting up a ‘new central investigation team’.
The statement added: ‘When the final report is published by NHS England we will review the recommendations and make any further changes necessary to ensure the processes through which we report, investigate and learn from deaths are of the highest possible standard.’
An NHS England spokesman said: ‘We commissioned an independent report because it was clear there are significant concerns.’