Brighton and Hove health chiefs are due to express their concern today about the treatment of mentally ill patients in the city.
The issue is flagged up in a report to the board of NHS Brighton and Hove – the primary care trust (PCT) that commissions health services for patients.
The concerns relate to treatment provided by the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust which provides specialist mental health, substance misuse and learning disability services.
The report, which can be read here, says that 17 patients died unexpectedly in the community last year, with another dying in January. Five patients absconded. One tried to commit suicide and two incidents of assault were reported.
The report points out that patients were being treated more quickly although Sussex Partnership was still assessing too many patients over the phone instead of face to face.
It cites a patient survey by the Care Quality Commission which found that Sussex Partnership ranked poorly – in the bottom 20 per cent compared with similar trusts – in a number of areas.
The watchdog said that the trust did not make it into the top 20 per cent in any areas.
The trust’s psychiatrists were also ranked in the bottom 20 per cent.
The report says: “This is a longstanding ranking of SPFT by patients where psychiatrists have comparatively poor ratings in other national surveys.”
It goes on to say: “These ratings are of significant concern because research is clear that the quality of the relationship between therapist and patient is the most important factor in recovery.”
NHS Brighton and Hove – the PCT – pays Sussex Partnership more than £40 million for its services in the city.
The PCT board is due to meet at 1pm today at Hove Town Hall.