NHS trust that treated Valdo Calocane to be subject of special review | Nottingham

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A troubled NHS trust that treated Valdo Calocane for paranoid schizophrenia before he killed three people in Nottingham last year is to be the subject of a special review.

Ministers said the review into Nottinghamshire Healthcare foundation trust would help provide answers to the families of Barnaby Webber, Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Ian Coates, who were killed by Calocane last June.

Calocane had been suffering from extreme mental illness for years before his violent rampage. His plea of manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility was accepted by prosecutors last week. He had been in out of the trust’s Highbury hospital due to his mental health problems, and also in the care of a community team.

The health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, downgraded the trust to “requires improvement” after an inspection in November 2022. It will conduct the review, and has been asked to present its findings in March. The CQC’s investigation will be run in tandem with an independent mental health homicide review ordered by NHS England.

In December, more than 30 staff were suspended from Highbury hospital over serious allegations including mistreating patients and falsifying records, the Independent revealed last week.

These allegations are being dealt with separately, according to a press statement by the Department of Health and Social Care. It said: “Investigations continue at Highbury hospital in the light of separate recent staff suspensions and a rapid improvement plan is under way, overseen by a new oversight board established to ensure appropriate action is being taken.”

The trust also runs Rampton high-security hospital, which was rated as inadequate by the CQC this month. It had not treated Calocane before the killings.

Calocane first came into contact with mental health services in May 2020 when he went to A&E believing he was having a heart attack, Nottingham crown court heard.

In the subsequent years leading to his deadly rampage, he was repeatedly sectioned to Highbury hospital over a number of incidents, and frequently refused to take medication.

In September 2021 his apartment was search after he evaded contact with his community mental health team. Eight months’ worth of unused medication was found and his behaviour was hostile. He also assaulted a police officer while being transported to Highbury hospital.

After being released in October 2021, he missed mental health appointments and often appeared confrontational. He was sectioned again in January 2022 after an altercation with his flatmate. It was later found that Calocane first started buying weapons in 2022 as voices were telling him to harm others, psychiatrists said.

In May 2022 he travelled to London and attempted to hand himself in to MI5, which he believed was controlling him.

For almost a year before his deadly attack he was unmedicated and out of touch with psychiatric services.

During the CQC’s inspection in November 2022, it singled out various services as requiring improvement, including the psychiatric intensive care unit and rehabilitation mental health wards. The inspectors did not review mental health crisis services and community-based mental health services for adults as both had been rated “good” in May 2019. Inspectors also praised the commitment of staff to improvement.

The health secretary, Victoria Atkins, said: “It is crucial that our mental health services ensure both the care of patients and the safety of the public.

“I hope the review provides the families and public with some much-needed answers, and that it helps the trust to improve the standard of mental health care in Nottinghamshire.”

Chris Dzikiti, the CQC’s director of mental health, said: “We will conduct a rapid review into mental health services in Nottingham to understand whether there are any practical actions which can be taken to improve the quality of services and ensure people receive safe and effective care. We will begin this work immediately, aiming to report to the secretary of state before the end of March.”

The trust has been approached for comment. In a previous comment to the Independent, it said: “Nottinghamshire Healthcare is committed to ensuring we provide the very best and safest care we possibly can for our patients … As investigations into these allegations are ongoing we are unable to comment further.”