Suicide, knife threats and alleged killing – rise in Sunderland mental health incidents

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SERIOUS cases being investigated by mental health service leaders in Sunderland have increased, new figures reveal.

Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust recorded 10 serious incidents on Wearside from April to June this year, compared to seven over the same period in 2012.

Across the North East there was a rise of 62 per cent.

The statistics have been published in a safety report to the trust’s board of directors.

Recorded incidents included patients killing themselves while on day release and a nurse being threatened with a 12-inch knife.

Other situations reported were a patient carrying out an alleged killing, patient confidentiality being breached and a scenario where a member of staff was briefly held hostage in a therapy room by a suicidal patient.

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust said taking on additional services over the past 12 months had most probably been the cause of the increase.

A spokesman added: “Mental Health Trusts across England and Wales use different approaches to the reporting of serious incidents.

“We have always had an open approach to incident reporting and this is illustrated by the publication of our recent safety report.

“Unlike some organisations, it is our policy to report all deaths of patients in contact with our services, including those which later prove to be due to natural causes or by accident.
“Over the past year the trust has taken on additional services including the treatment of people with drug and alcohol problems, which has been reflected in this year’s statistics.

“We are concerned about the number of incidents for this quarter but have seen no links between these incidents other than the fact that a number of them involve people with illnesses relating to drug and alcohol misuse.

“We cannot comment on individual investigations, but each incident is investigated thoroughly and if there are lessons to be learnt, these are implemented thoroughly.”

Trevor Johnson, lead for Unison Health in the North East, said: “Reporting has got much better since Mid Staffordshire and so we are learning from every incident.

“All the members of staff are working flat out and beyond in often extremely difficult circumstances.

“Of course we would like to see more staff, but at the same time as demand on services is increasing, the trust is being asked to make savings.”