Unexpected mental health deaths up 50% in three years

The number of unexpected patient deaths reported by England’s mental health trusts has risen by almost 50% in three years, figures suggest.

The findings, for the BBC’s Panorama programme, are based on FOI results from half of mental health trusts.

Unexpected deaths include death by suicide, neglect and misadventure.

The Department of Health said the increase was “expected” because of changes to the way deaths were recorded and investigated.

Raising the issue at Commons’ health questions on Tuesday, former shadow health minister Luciana Berger said she was “ashamed to live in a country” where the number of unexpected deaths among mental health patients had risen in recent years.

She said: “That is not a reflection of a country that cares equally about mental health as it does about physical health.”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said there was “a huge to do to improve mental health care”, but said more money had been made available, and more patients were being seen. “I think we are one of the best in the world,” he said.

Unexpected deaths

Thirty-three mental health trusts – which provide most mental health care – out of a total of 57 in England responded to the Panorama Freedom of Information request.

In 2012-13, the trusts reported a total of 2,067 unexpected deaths.

By 2015-16 that had risen to 3,160.

The increase comes at a time of decreased funding for mental health trusts, which provide the bulk of mental health care in England.

Exclusive new analysis for Panorama from the think tank, the Health Foundation, indicates that mental health trusts in England have had their funding cut by £150m over the past four years, compared with a rise in national spending on health of £8bn.

Read more here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-38852420?S

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