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Mental health units 'heading for Mid Staffs scandal'

Britain's senior psychiatrist has warned that the mental health sector is heading towards its own Mid Staffs scandal, according to the Observer.

Professor Sue Bailey, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said she was concerned that mental services were approaching a "tipping point" with funding being cut despite a record 50,000 uses of the Mental Health Act to detain patients in hospital for assessment or treatment in 2012-13.

Mental health units 'are heading for a Mid Staffs scandal', warns senior psychiatrist Credit: PA

She said: "I do feel very strongly that if we keep always being the last in the line there will come a tipping point and we will end up with our own [scandal and subsequent inquiry].

"We are under increasing pressure. Carers will tell you that. Mental health practitioners who feel it is safe to talk about these things will tell you that – but whistleblowing is still not easy."

Midlands is most 'financially challenged' region

A study from Monitor, which regulates England's 147 foundation trusts, said 39 trusts are now in deficit, almost double the 21 in the same period last year and more than the 24 expected.

The combined financial hole of these trusts is £180 million - higher than the £168 million anticipated, with 60% of the deficit concentrated in five organisations. A further 17 trusts have "very small" deficits.

Mid Staffordshire hospital trust.
Midlands is most 'financially challenged' region. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

The Midlands is the most "financially challenged" region, with 14 of its 38 trusts being in deficit, including Peterborough, Mid Staffordshire, Sherwood Forest and Milton Keynes, the report said.

Overall, 40% (33) of acute trusts, 20% (one) of ambulance trusts, 11% (two) of specialist trusts and 7% (three) of mental health trusts are in deficit.

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Mid Staffs Trust pleads guilty to safety breaches

Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has pleaded guilty at Stafford Magistrates' Court today to safety breaches connected to the death of diabetic patient Gillian Astbury.

Mrs Astbury, 66, died in April 2007 after she was not given insulin while an in-patient at Stafford Hospital.

Gillian Astbury died after slipping into a diabetic coma at Stafford Hospital in 2007.

The Trust pleaded guilty through its barrister to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act by failing to properly manage and organise hospital services, including its systems for record-keeping, patient information and communication between staff members.

History of scandals at Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust

As health regulator Monitor announces that Mdid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust is to be put into administration, a look back at the scandals which have marred the Trust for years:

  • In 2009, a highly-critical report by the Healthcare Commission revealed a catalogue of failings at the trust and said "appalling standards" put patients at risk.
  • Between 400 and 1,200 more people died than would have been expected in a three-year period from 2005 to 2008, the Commission said.

Jeremy Hunt's mood music hints at Mid Staffs response

by - Former Science and Medical Editor

At the moment Jeremy Hunt is still considering his response to the Mid Staffordshire NHS report and I think we can read some mood music in to what he is saying today.

Take for example his phrase about 'box ticking' - everyone knows that at Mid Staffs the hospital authorities were preoccupied with meeting targets about waiting lists and hospital infections and took their eye off the ball.

Read: Health Secretary: 'Not bad is not good enough'.

The key phrase is 'hit the target and miss the point' and he has pinched that phrase from the boss of the NHS David Nicholson who you might remember is currently under very heavy attack - 25 MPs have now signed a motion calling for his resignation.

Read: NHS boss 'unaware' of failings.

I think staff working in the NHS are going to say hang on - you're currently asking us to save £20 billion from the NHS budgets by next year there's a massive reorganisation of the NHS.

The danger from the Health Secretary's point of view is that they may see his remarks about mediocrity and box ticking applying to them and they will not be very happy about it.

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Jeremy Hunt on the lessons of Mid Staffordshire

The Health Secretary is expected to say later that; "the lesson of Mid Staffs is surely that we need to understand why they fail in the first place - which means tackling mediocrity and low expectations before they turn into failure and tragedy.

Jeremy Hunt is expected to speak later about the lessons of Mid Staffordshire Hospital
Jeremy Hunt is expected to speak later about the lessons of Mid Staffordshire Hospital Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Click here for the latest on the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust.

"There are plenty of other hospitals where their staff friends and family scores are about the same today as they were in 2009.

"They're hitting their targets, they're not failing but, on the basis of this indicator anyway, they're standing still."

Calls for NHS boss to be sacked despite apology

The boss of the NHS in England apologised to the families of those who died at Mid-Staffs NHS Trust. Sir David Nicholson, a local manager at the time, said it was not his fault. The entire NHS had, in effect, taken its eye off the ball as it chased 'targets'.

He went on to say he was the man to put it right - and he was not for quitting. But, as ITV News medical editor Lawrence McGinty reports, some of the families still want him to go:

Read: NHS boss 'unaware' of failings.

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