A coroner has raised concerns over the level of funding in mental health services following the death of a patient in the East Midlands.
Assistant coroner for Nottinghamshire Heidi Connor has written a report warning that the NHS, particularly mental health services, “are having to spread resources ever more thinly”, following an inquest in to the death of Kate Dolby.
While the inquest found multiple breakdowns in communication between providers, Ms Connor said the “most significant” factor in Ms Dolby’s death was “the workload and waiting list”.
Ms Dolby was found dead on 9 October 2016 after suffering from “toxicity” of the drug propranolol, which is used to treat anxiety.
Prior to her death, she was referred to the early intervention in psychosis team run by Nottinghamshire Healthcare Foundation Trust, but there were delays to her receiving treatment.
Following Ms Dolby’s death, the trust put in a request to Nottingham City clinical commissioning group to fund six more nurses and one full time consultant to work in its EIP team.
The CCG agreed to fund three care coordinators, an administrator and the equivalent of 0.4 clinicians to support the EIP team.
The coroner said: “As with so many matters like this, a central issue is funding. The NHS and, I think it is fair to say, mental health services in particular are having to spread resources ever more thinly…
“I remain concerned, particularly about funding further medics, in this [EIP] team, and have chosen to formalise these concerns in a regulation 28 [preventing future deaths] report.
“There were undoubtedly failings and communication breakdowns contributing to the delay in Kate’s case. However, I find the most significant factor was the workload and waiting list.”
Dawn Smith, chief officer of Nottingham City CCG, said: “We have provided the trust with an additional £284,000 funding package to meet national standards for early intervention in psychosis services and note the clear improvements they have made in reducing waiting times for patients.
“The trust is now consistently achieving the national target of seeing more than 50 per cent of patients within two weeks, while improvements to staffing have reduced the case load size for care coordinators.
“However, we are mindful that EIP services are subject to a national assessment and will continue to review funding with the trust in light of future recommendations from NHS England as well as local demand from patients.”
Coroner’s report; CCG statement