The mental health trust for Sussex has defended the high number of serious incidents it recorded last year.
Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust had 262 serious incidents (SIs) in 2016-17, the second highest of all the 53 mental health trust in England and Wales, a report has found.
Only Nottinghamshire was higher with 303.
There is no specific definition of an SI but NHS England describes it as ‘adverse events, where the consequences to patients, families and carers, staff or organisations are so significant or the potential for leaning is so great, that a heightened level of response is justified.
“Serious Incidents include acts or omissions in care that result in: unexpected or avoidable death, unexpected or avoidable injury resulting in serious harm – including those where the injury required treatment to prevent death or serious harm, abuse...”
The Sussex Partnership Trust said NHS organisations define and report incidents differently, adding that it encourages staff and patients to say when things go wrong.
A spokesman said: “It’s useful to see how we compare with other NHS mental health trusts on serious incident reporting.
“But league tables like this don’t always tell the full story.
“The way individual NHS organisations define and report incidents differs according to local circumstances.
“We’ve had a real push over the last three years to encourage people to feel safe about saying when something has gone wrong, big or small.
“This isn’t about finding someone to blame. It’s about creating the kind of culture where we work together to continuously improve care and treatment for the patients, carers and local communities we serve.
“We’ve deliberately taken a broad view about what constitutes a serious incident. “We’ve done some work to refine this recently so we can really focus on the most important issues that will make the biggest different to the quality and safety and patient care.
“For an organisation of our size and complexity, we’d be worried to see ourselves right at the other end of the league table on incident reporting.
“Our staff do an incredibly difficult job in tough circumstances.
“Most of the time they get things right. When we don’t, we need to reflect, learn and support each other to change things. That’s what the NHS does at its best.”
Medical negligence lawyers Blackwater Law sent Freedom of Information requests to all 242 NHS trusts in England and Wales.
Its report found that more than 40,000 SIs took place in a two-year period from April 1 2015 to March 31, 2017, and 11,872 across the mental health trusts.
Jason Brady from Blackwater Law, said: “It was very worrying indeed to learn not only of the significant number of SIs being recorded by mental health trusts across the country, but also the severity of those types of SIs most commonly recorded.
“These findings should further fuel the debate surrounding the quality of mental health services being provided, particularly in cases concerning the most vulnerable, high-risk patients.”