Suffolk police has confirmed it has received a letter from mental health campaigners calling for a criminal investigation into more than 8,000 deaths amongst Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust patients. 

The Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk have written to the counties' chief constables requesting they open investigations into 8,440 deaths of patients of the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) since 2020.

This comes after an independent report carried out by Grant Thornton found as many as 8,440 patients died unexpectedly over the course of just three years.

Campaigners want police to review cases where coroners have issued Prevention of Future Deaths notices and where other patients have died in similar circumstances.

East Anglian Daily Times: Campaigners in Ipswich in 2022 Campaigners in Ipswich in 2022 (Image: Newsquest)

Police have also been asked to assess whether the threshold has been reached for charges of corporate manslaughter against the senior managers and the trust board. 

A Suffolk Constabulary spokesperson said: "We have received the letter today and will be responding to it once we have had time to assess its contents and concerns."

The letter, addressed to the counties' chief constables, said: "There needs to be an individual case by case basis investigation to fully comprehend each death and how it has been caused.

"There must also be genuine considerations as to whether or not the evidence meets the threshold for any corporate manslaughter prosecutions against the NSFT Board." 

Mark Harrison, chair of the campaign, said: "This is the biggest deaths crisis in the history of the NHS and it is happening in the NHS Foundation Trust charged with providing mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk." 

East Anglian Daily Times: Caroline Donovan, the trust's new CEOCaroline Donovan, the trust's new CEO (Image: NSFT)

An NSFT spokesperson said the trust is working to make sure that all recommendations and actions from PFD reports are implemented, and added that Caroline Donovan, the trust's new CEO, is dedicated to making cultural changes. 

A spokesperson for NSFT offered condolences to the families and carers of people affected and said the trust's new CEO, Caroline Donovan, who joined in November and has background in improving patient care, is determined to create widescale change in the organisation. 

They said Ms Donovan has appointed an experienced patient safety advisor and launched a new programme called 'Listening into Action' which will enable staff, partners and service users and carers to work together to take action on areas that they feel need improvement.

In May, Suffolk police announced plans to implement the 'Right Care, Right Person' strategy, which will see officers scale back their attendance to calls regarding mental welfare. 

At the time, Assistant Chief Constable Eamonn Bridger said "protecting and keeping people safe" would remain the force's top priority.