Norwich South Labour MP Clive Lewis has responded to Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) announcement that they will launch an ‘independent investigation’ into unexpected deaths & suicides within its mental health services.
“We must never forget the real human tragedy of these unexpected deaths of people using mental health services. Locally over 200 people have died - leaving thousands of their families and friends in Norfolk and Suffolk left to pick up the pieces and mourn their lost loved ones. For many of those who had raised concerns about their relatives’ treatment and campaigned for better mental health services before their deaths, their grief and anger must truly be unbearable.”
Clive has called on any independent investigation to not let government pass the buck on the national mental health emergency they’ve created. He said:
“Of course, local NHS management should be held to account when they get things wrong as NSFT has so often in the last few years. But the reality is that we are in the midst of national emergency in mental health made in Downing Street. The number of mental health patients dying unexpectedly each year in NHS care in the whole of England has risen 21% over the last three years from 1,412 to 1,713.
National Tory and Lib Dem decisions have had disastrous consequences locally. NSFT has had to make cuts of £40million, is now in the red by £11million and there are still £36million of cuts to come. Since the Tories came to power in 2010, local mental health services now have 32% fewer doctors and 12% fewer nurses.
The Tories have been in power for almost six years now and have done nothing to remedy the scandalous unfairness in the way mental health is funded. If NSFT was funded on the same basis as a hospital like the Norwich & Norfolk - where increased demand means more money to meet that demand - local mental health services would be £70million better off annually.”
Commenting on the medical recruitment crisis which is hitting users of local mental health services so badly, Clive said:
“All services in our NHS - from mental health through out of hours to local GP surgeries - are struggling to get enough vital medical staff to meet increasing demand. Whether there are enough doctors and nurses is clearly the responsibility of any competent government. But instead of getting to grips with this recruitment crisis, this government have made it worse.
Health Education England - which is responsible for NHS workforce numbers and training, has already had to slash its running costs by 20%. And doctor and nurse recruitment and training was hit again as recently as last November. The Spending Review’s 25% cuts to the Department of Health budget will also means big future cuts to key health bodies like Health Education England. This means a further squeeze on recruitment, education and training of health professionals - at the very same time as demand for these professionals is soaring.”