Nearly 100 people have been failed by mental health services in South West Yorkshire over the last three years despite strict seven-day follow up procedures.
Information provided by the South West Yorkshire Partnership revealed that in the last three years the trust, which covers mental health services to Barnsley, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield, failed to follow up with 97 patients.
NHS guidelines state that adult mental health patients released from inpatient services require a mandatory check-up within seven days.
The NHS website states: “This is an important safety measure, showing the link between inpatient and community teams, as the immediate period after discharge is a time of significant suicide and self harm risk.”
NHS guidelines add that all service users are given, at the point of discharge, an allocated date for their seven-day follow-up in line with the Department of Health and Monitor requirements and its policy reflects that unchecked patients remain at high risk of suicide.
Carol Harris, Director of Operations at South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We always put people first and in the centre, ensuring our service users receive proportionate and suitable care and aftercare.
“Each person is different and we work closely with our service users and their carers to make sure that any care meets their needs and is both timely and appropriate for them.
“We have followed 97.2% of people up with 72hrs/7 days over the last 3 years. Where we have not been able to see people this has been due to a range of factors including clinical reasons, personal choice on the part of the service user, repeated attempts by our services at contact without success, and inability to trace the person’s whereabouts within the 72hr/7 day timescale.”
The data did show that the number of patients that failed to receive a check in has decreased slightly across the three years, but there were still 23 patients recorded between January and December last year having not received a check up within the mandatory time frame.
In December 2016 it was revealed that Yorkshire had the highest suicide rates for the whole of the country and research by the charity Mind, in a survey of 850 patients, found that those who were not followed up were twice as likely to attempt to take their own lives and a third more likely to harm themselves.