The Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) is under increasing scrutiny and facing safety concerns, prompting calls for a public inquiry. The Norfolk Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee has written to the health secretary expressing worries about safety issues within the trust. NSFT, however, argues that a public inquiry would adversely affect current care and ongoing efforts to enhance services.
In response to the demand for a public inquiry, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has emphasized the importance of patient safety and care in mental health. They have pointed out that the Health Services Safety Investigations Body (HSSIB) is conducting a national investigation into mental health inpatient settings to identify and address any risks. Last year, an independent report revealed that NSFT had lost track of patient death figures, further raising concerns about the trust’s operations.
NSFT has voiced its opposition to a public inquiry, citing the negative impact it would have on current services. However, recent events have renewed scrutiny on the trust. The case of Bartlomiej Kuczynski, who tragically killed his two daughters and sister-in-law before taking his own life, has raised questions about the quality of care he received as an NSFT patient. Consequently, the trust has announced a serious incident review into his case.
Families and campaigners, including Natalie McLellan, who lost her daughter Rebecca while under the care of NSFT, are among those calling for a public inquiry. McLellan believes that a public inquiry is necessary to address the systemic problems within the trust and bring about meaningful change. She argues that the only people who can truly comprehend the impact of these issues are the affected families.
In response to the demands for a public inquiry, a spokesperson for NSFT and two NHS integrated care boards in Norfolk and Suffolk have expressed concerns about the scrutiny committee’s letter. While acknowledging the tragic loss of loved ones, they argue that a public inquiry spanning a decade or more would require significant time and effort from current leaders and staff, inevitably compromising the services provided today and ongoing improvement efforts. Instead, they urge the health secretary to consider the progress and collaboration between the parties involved in effecting the necessary changes in mental health services.
In summary, NSFT is facing mounting pressure and safety concerns, with calls for a public inquiry. Despite families and campaigners advocating for an external investigation to address systemic issues within the trust, NSFT argues that such an inquiry would compromise current care and improvement efforts. The DHSC has highlighted an ongoing national investigation into mental health inpatient settings. The debate surrounding a public inquiry continues to unfold, with the trust’s response and concerns from families and campaigners taking center stage.