A recent Freedom of Information Request by the BBC’s Panorama has shown that unexpected mental health deaths have increased by 50% in the last three years; why is more not being done about this national outrage? 

Out of the mental health trusts who responded to the FOI request, it was reported that 3,160 mentally ill people unexpectedly died in 2015-2016.  The government continue to promise further funding for mental health, however recent reports seem to suggest that these promises are largely empty.

An NHS trust was put into special measures after poor standards of mental health care were uncovered by the Care Quality Commission; funding for mental health has been being cut by almost half.  Yet more and more people are requiring mental health input.  It is shocking that more is not being done to protect some of our society’s most vulnerable citizens. 

One family represented by Broudie Jackson Canter were told by a jury that inadequacies at Broadoak Unit, run by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, led to the death of their loved one.  Although it is hoped that recommendations made by the Coroner in this inquest will prevent similar deaths in the future, it should not take deaths to trigger much-needed improvements to mental health services.  Sadly, there have been further deaths of Mersey Care patients since this jury’s critical finding.  These deaths are still under investigation and any failings attributed to the trust are yet to be established.

Not only are many vulnerable patients left without the care and support they desperately need, but families are being left without answers following the death of their loved one.

Last year, the Care Quality Commission released a damning report into how patient deaths are investigated in England and Wales.  One interviewee reported that they were “drip fed information” about their loved one’s death by one trust and that this had had “toxic, damaging, compounding” effect on them.  The report was certainly right to recommend immediate improvements to the way in which deaths are investigated by trusts as a matter of national priority. 

Without thorough, honest and collaborative reports which welcome the input of family members, and an overhaul of funding for mental health, how can we expect to prevent more people from dying unnecessarily?

Our expert team of Mental Health, Inquest, and Actions Against Police solicitors can help ensure that the most vulnerable in society receive the proper legal advice they need, and those who are at fault for a possible death are brought to account. If you have been affected by any of the points raised you can contact one of our team by calling 0333 321 4580 or by emailing enquiries@jacksoncanter.co.uk.