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Trust reviewing bed capacity after three patient deaths

A coroner has warned a trust in the West Midlands for the third time about bed shortages, after three patient deaths which he believes are linked.

In his report on the death in July of Philip Malone, area coroner for Birmingham and Solihull James Bennett told Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust that its psychiatric bed capacity “remains inadequate”.

Mr Malone – who was diagnosed with treatment-resistant schizophrenia in the 1980s and adult autism in May this year – died by suicide while awaiting an inpatient psychiatric bed at BSMHFT after a deterioration in his symptoms of anxiety, thought disorder, and hallucinations.

Clinicians decided on 28 June that Mr Malone should be detained under the Mental Health Act, but as no inpatient psychiatric bed was available, he remained in the supported accommodation. Mr Malone died on 3 July.

In a public report warning of the risks which may cause future deaths, issued last week, Mr Bennett said he had issued two previous “prevention of future death” reports which focused on a “chronic lack” of mental health resources in Birmingham and Solihull.

Mr Bennett said: “The issue of adequately funding psychiatric beds is local and national. Locally, BSMHFT requires its commissioners to provide the necessary funding.

“Whilst some action may have been taken it is insufficient to resolve the problem. It follows there is a genuine risk of future deaths directly connected to a shortage of psychiatric bed spaces in Birmingham and Solihull unless further action is taken.”

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Source: HSJ, 5 November 2023


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