College responds to Southern Health Foundation Trust Report

Statement / comment
03 January 2018

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has reflected on the Mazars report on the Southern Health Foundation Trust, which was published yesterday.

The College is aware that since the tragic death of Connor Sparrowhawk in 2013 the Trust has made a number of improvements such as strengthening the investigation process and the accompanying learning, as well as full involvement of families in the investigation process. The CQC as well as the College Quality Improvement processes have recently reported many areas of excellent care across the Trust.

The NHS England commissioned report confirms that there is no evidence of increased deaths of people with Learning Disability at Southern Trust compared to elsewhere, but guards against complacency. It also suggests that there may be a general culture that is more reluctant to investigate unexplained deaths in people with learning disability specifically.

Not enough is being done to narrow the unacceptable gap that exists between the life expectancy of the general population and that for all people with serious mental illness and people with a learning disability across the country. Access to services needs to improve as does the level of staff awareness and skills at meeting health needs.

Professor Sir Simon Wessely, President of The Royal College of Psychiatrists said:

“We will continue working to improve the physical health and the life expectancy of people with learning disability and with a Serious Mental Illness. We are already working on this with other Royal Colleges, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Health Education England, but accept that more needs to be done. We hope to have discussions with the CQC, NHS Improvement and NHS England as well as the Department of Health on accelerating the pace of change.”

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