Jeremy Hunt says he is shocked that a trust failed to investigate 1,000 deaths

Katrina Percy
Katrina Percy

A crisis-hit NHS Trust has failed to investigate the unexpected deaths of over 1,000 deaths since 2011. Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, said that the news was “shocking”. The Trust has admitted that “our reporting has not always been good enough” but criticised the auditing process.

The Southern Health NHS Trust has repeatedly failed to investigate deaths according to an audit requested by NHS England. There were 1,454 unexpected deaths and only 195 of these were investigated.

Katrina Percy has been the Chief Executive since 2011 when the Southern Health NHS Trust was founded. The report, which has not yet been published in full, was conducted by Mazars. The Trust issued a statement in response to the allegations:

“We would not usually comment on a leaked draft report. However, we want to avoid unnecessary anxiety amongst the people we support, their carers and families as their welfare is our priority.

There are serious concerns about the draft report’s interpretation of the evidence. We fully accept that our reporting processes following a patient death have not always been good enough. We have taken considerable measures to strengthen our investigation and learning from deaths including increased monitoring and scrutiny.

The review has not assessed the quality of care provided by the Trust. Instead it looked at the way in which the Trust recorded and investigated deaths of people with whom we had one or more contacts in the preceding 12 months. In almost all cases referred to in the report, the Trust was not the main provider of care.

We would stress the draft report contains no evidence of more deaths than expected in the last four years of people with mental health needs or learning disabilities for the size and age of the population we serve.

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”.