A mental health trust which reported 13 of its patients likely died due to failings in their care has said none of the deaths were caused by staff errors.
Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust exonerated its clinicians after the deaths came to light in a Quality Account report published by the trust this week.
The defence of its doctors and nurses came in a statement released after it was reported that of 37 patient deaths investigated by the trust, 13 were ‘assessed as to be more likely than not to have been due to problems in the care provided to the patient’.
The trust has said between 2016 and 2018 it treated 35,000 patients and conducted 37 investigations into a total of 292 patient deaths.
In a statement released before its board meets today, a spokesperson said: “The death of a patient is always a tragic event. We take all incidents seriously and conduct a thorough investigation ensuring that all actions identified are fully implemented through our embedding lessons process.
“National guidance requires us to use a specific form of words in our Quality Account when reporting deaths that require an investigation e.g. deaths that are not from natural causes.
“None of these cases were found to be due to acts/omissions of care by individual members of staff and therefore, we can confirm that no disciplinary action has been taken as a result.”
The statement did not say the exact causes of the deaths or what changes the trust had made to its procedures since its investigations.
But it did state: “The 13 deaths (over a 2 year period) referenced within the trust’s Quality Account are cases that relate to unexpected deaths or suicides.
“In these particular cases, our investigations identified areas for improvement, such as changes to processes and strengthening working relationships with other agencies.”
It added its suicide rate is lower than the national average and the lowest in the West Midlands region.
In response to a separate statement in its Quality Account of 53 ‘serious incidents’ during 2017 to 2018, it explained: “A serious incident is an event where there is potential for learning to support improvements to quality of care, patient experience or patient safety.
“These may include incidents which directly involve patients or service delivery. An example where no harm has occurred, but where a serious incident was reported can include things such as a faulty fire panel leading to the closure of a ward.”
The trust board will meet at 12.30pm at Bushey Fields Hospital, Dudley – one of three hospitals it operates and which include Bloxwich and Dorothy Pattison Hospitals in Walsall.
Source : BirminghamMail