“Misguided and Dangerous”

It was announced on Wednesday 17 July that the NHS has decided to stop funding the automatic investigation of all killings by mental health patients.

This announcement took many people totally by surprise, and in the case of families bereaved by mental health homicide, shock and horror.  Making Families Count member and founder of the influential charity Hundred Families, Julian Hendy is quoted in the Guardian article which blew the lid on this astounding decision by NHS England.  You can read the article in full here:

Cuts to study of killings by mental health patients ‘put people at risk’

In response to this NHS England decision Majorie Wallace, CEO of Sane, wrote the following letter to the Guardian: We must learn from mental health tragedies

Here at Making Families Count, we asked our colleague Julian Hendy for a quote to include in this blog and he has sent us the following words:

The decision to stop funding research on homicides by people with mental illness is both misguided and dangerous.
We know that much fatal knife crime, domestic violence, and assaults on children, amongst others, often has a mental health component, which is poorly understood or addressed. The failure to investigate effectively and draw national conclusions is not only wrong, and short-sighted but also it causes deep offence to the families bereaved by such killings, none of whom were even consulted in the decision.

At the recent Patient Safety Congress (see last week’s blog) so many of the presentations and workshops were around the concept of a “just and learning culture in the NHS”. Now, with this announcement, that utterly laudable goal has moved just a little bit further away. If you aren’t sure why this matters or why this new decision is so shocking, imagine you have lost someone very dear to you by mental health homicide. Then imagine you find out no-one is going to look at the case in-depth to find out why, how and what has caused it. No-one is going to look at whether it could have been prevented and whether it is part of a greater pattern of homicides in your area, at your Trust or in the UK – a preventable gap which needs to be closed before there’s another tragic loss and another family devastated. The is so far away from Making Families Count training message of the unmistakable benefits of positive family engagement.

As Majorie Wallace says, NHS England decision may save money in the short term, but in the long term it’s like “throwing away the black box after a plane crash”.

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