Mental health chief hits back at Leicester coroner’s claims
The head of mental health services in Leicestershire has hit back at a coroner’s claims his organisation failed to put in place measures to safeguard patients.
John Short said it was a “shame” coroner Catherine Mason had not asked Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust to provide evidence of the action it had taken to address concerns over patient care before she criticised it last week.
During the inquest into the death of patient Michael Coltman, Leicester City Coroner Mrs Mason said “institutional complacency” at the trust had resulted in a “catalogue of failures” that had contributed to Mr Coltman’s death.
Mr Coltman hanged himself at the Bradgate mental health unit, at Glenfield Hospital, in January.
The coroner said the trust had pledged “previously and repeatedly” to put measures in place to address concerns over patient care, but “policies and audits” were “meaningless if they did not make any difference”.
Yesterday, Mr Short, the trust’s chief executive, told a board meeting: “I disagree very strongly with the coroner’s verdict and the issue of failure.
“The coroner made an allegation that the trust was institutionally complacent. I formally refute this.
“We have carried out a considerable amount of work in the last 12 months. It is a shame the coroner didn’t formally ask the trust to produce evidence in relation to the accusations. We would have been able to confirm what we have done and asked for two external reviews.”
He said the trust had asked a leading mental health expert, Professor Louis Appleby, to review all recent suicides of patients under its care, and the chief nursing officer from another trust had been asked to review two incidents that happened last month. Details of those incidents were not given at the meeting.
Mr Short said a private meeting of trust directors was being held yesterday afternoon to “test that there was no complacency”, and to discuss future actions.
The results of the meeting will be debated in public next month .
Trust chairman Professor David Chiddick said: “There is no complacency and we are utterly committed to addressing issues that arise.”
Mental health patient Andy Murtha, of Enderby, told directors at the meeting: “Every month I listen to this board in a way patting itself on the back. I hear declarations like ‘an excellent grading after an external audit’. But still the suicides linked to the trust mount.
“After every death I read ‘we have introduced changes’, but still another death and yet another.
“My question is for the whole board – how are we, the public, the families, the carers, the voluntary sector and the service users like me, supposed to have faith that you are doing enough to protect us in our hour of need?”
Mr Coltman hanged himself with his bed sheets. His inquest heard a breakdown in communication between staff on the Bosworth ward had led to staff giving him his sheets back the day after he had tried to use them as a ligature.