An NHS trust that provides mental health services in St Helens is being closely monitored due to delays in issuing reports on suicides.
North West Boroughs Healthcare Foundation Trust provides community and inpatient mental health services across Halton, Knowsley, St Helens, Warrington, Wigan and Bolton.
A new report from St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) says there has been an increase in the number of suicides in St Helens in which the victims were known to mental health services.
The report says the CCG and Public Health are “concerned” by this and are seeking assurances from North West Boroughs that any learning lessons can be actioned to “minimise the risk”.
Currently, North West Boroughs is under “enhanced surveillance”, a process designed to improve the quality of services, due to its Serious Incident (SI) process and management.
The decision was a collective response from all commissioners in the Cheshire and Merseyside Collaborative Commissioning Forum.
Serious incidents are events in health and social care where the potential for learning is so great or the consequences to patients, families and carers, staff or organisations so significant, that they warrant using additional resources to mount a comprehensive response.
Investigations into serious incidents are conducted for the purposes of learning to prevent the likelihood of similar incidents happening again.
Lisa Ellis, the CCG’s chief nurse, told the governing body that North West Boroughs is “really poor” at getting serious incident reports out on time.
Ms Ellis said the current reporting model, which is led by Knowsley CCG, was “not helping”.
She said the issue is affecting St Helens patients, but added that the matter is a “process issue”.
The report says it is also awaiting a thematic review and an updated suicide prevention strategy from North West Boroughs.
Gail Briers, chief nurse and deputy chief executive at North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Suicide prevention is a priority for our trust, and we have developed a trust-wide suicide prevention strategy for 2019-2022, which is overseen by our suicide prevention steering group with representatives from each of our boroughs.
“We have completed a comprehensive review of how we investigate and learn from serious incidents and are working with our partners including St Helens and Knowsley Clinical Commissioning Groups to develop a robust plan to prevent incidents of suicide in the borough.”