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NHS ombudsman calls on trust chief to withdraw ‘not accurate’ remarks

The NHS ombudsman has told a health trust chief to withdraw “not accurate” remarks about him amid an alleged attempt to play down up to 1,000 avoidable patient deaths.

Rob Behrens wrote to Stuart Richardson, the head of the Norfolk and Suffolk mental health NHS trust, over remarks he made about him to Norfolk county council’s health scrutiny committee.

The councillors on the committee were questioning Richardson over claims reported by the BBC’s Newsnight programme that his trust had “watered down” a report into what are thought to be the avoidable deaths of up to 1,000 patients.

The changes between different versions of the document toned down criticism of the trust’s leadership, a move that drew criticism from Behrens and bereaved relatives.

For example, the auditors, Grant Thornton, removed references included in the first version to the trust’s governance being “poor, … weak [and] inadequate”, after discussions with trust bosses. The trust and Grant Thornton said the changes were part of a normal factchecking process.

Referring to the changes, Behrens had told Newsnight that “the differences in the texts at key points are so huge that this is not just a bureaucratic drafting issue”.

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Source: The Guardian, 5 October 2023


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