Child deaths in mental health facilities
In early April, INQUEST published research into the deaths of children receiving in-patient mental health care. The research, which is based on Parliamentary Questions and 245 Freedom of Information Act requests between 2010 and 2014, exposes a fundamental lack of transparency and central oversight regarding the deaths of children in mental health facilities.
The findings highlight that there is no single body which is responsible for recording the deaths of children who died as mental health inpatients. This information is not made public by any one body or government department and is not collated or analysed.
The research finds that at least nine children have died whilst receiving inpatient psychiatric care between 2010 and 2014. However, the true number of deaths during this period is likely to be higher as many bodies refused to provide data or stated they did not hold the information. Currently 47% of in-patient child and adolescent mental health services are run by private providers who refused to answer FOIs on the grounds that the FOI Act does not apply to them. Where deaths have occurred there is no system in place requiring independent investigation, with the majority of deaths being investigated by the same institution where the death occurred.
Concerns raised by INQUEST’s research findings chime with concerns raised by CRAE’s See it, Say it, Change it report from children in England to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Children in the report highlighted a lack of sufficient safeguarding measures in privately run units which led to vulnerable children being placed at risk of harm, including suicide. A BBC Panorama shown in April told the story of Sara Green, a child who died in a mental health setting. The programme uses evidence gathered by Inquest to show the poor care Sara received from CAMHS which contributed to her death.
You can read more about the INQUEST's research here
You can watch the Panorama programme here