A mental health trust in Norfolk and Suffolk, facing safety concerns, is resisting calls for a public inquiry, asserting that such an investigation could compromise the current provision of care. The chairman of the Norfolk Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee recently urged the health secretary to initiate a public inquiry due to enduring safety concerns at the Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT). In response, the trust wrote to the government, emphasizing that an inquiry would negatively impact existing services and hamper ongoing improvement efforts.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) spokesperson highlighted the paramount importance of ensuring the safety and care of mental health patients. They revealed that the Health Services Safety Investigations Body (HSSIB) is already conducting a national investigation into mental health inpatient settings to identify and address risks.
NSFT faced scrutiny last year when an independent report by audit firm Grant Thornton disclosed that the trust had lost track of figures for patient deaths. The trust argues that initiating a public inquiry would adversely affect the current services it provides. The renewed scrutiny comes after Bartlomiej Kuczynski, a former patient of NSFT, was involved in a tragic incident where he is believed to have killed his two daughters and sister-in-law before taking his own life. NSFT has announced a serious incident review into Kuczynski’s care.
While families and campaigners support calls for a public inquiry, NSFT and two NHS integrated care boards covering Norfolk and Suffolk expressed their concerns about the potential impact on current services and the ongoing efforts to improve them. They have written to the health secretary, urging consideration of the collaborative and strengthened partnership working between the integrated care boards and NSFT in making necessary changes to mental health services.