Too Little, Too Late: NHS Says Sorry For Avoidable Deaths


A report done into the deaths at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust has led to an official apology - but is this it?

Apologies for NHS deaths too late

After the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told Parliament that the failure to investigate more than 1000 unexpected deaths was "profoundly shocking", could the Trust have done more?

Following the death of an 18 year old patient at Southern Health in Oxford who drowned in the bath after an epileptic seizure, the investigation found that his death was preventable and that the neglect by the Trust had contributed to his death.

Understandably, this is no comfort to the young man's family, or to other victims, whose deaths could have been avoided.

Mental Health Issues

The Trust in question is one of the largest mental health trusts, providing a service to over 45,000 people. The investigation looked at the deaths at the Trust between April 2011 and March 2015; it found 10,306 had died expectedly but 1,454 were unexpected deaths.

In nearly two thirds of investigations, family members were not involved. This highlights the clear failure to learn from the comprehensive data available. Deaths involving those with learning disabilities and over the age of 65 with mental health issues should have been investigated further or should have been investigated in the first place.

What's Going To Change?

Jeremy Hunt has announced that there is an urgent need to improve investigations and learning from the estimated 200 avoidable deaths in the NHS per week. The following measures to be implemented were announced:

  • From June 2016 there will be an Ofsted type rating for all 209 Clinical Commissioning Groups in England
  • The University of Bristol is to carry out a study into the mortality rates of people in NHS Care with learning disabilities
  • The numbers regarding avoidable deaths by the NHS are to be published.

Can Simpson Millar Help You?

The report is indeed shocking and difficult to comprehend. The level of indifference to a vulnerable group of people does not inspire confidence; it actually raises more concern.

Is this the tip of the iceberg? Is there a culture of complacency?

Simpson Millar often acts for families wanting justice and reassurance that the same thing will not happen to another family. If you know of anyone who is not satisfied with the answers they have been given following a tragedy it is worthwhile seeking legal help.

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