A MENTAL health trust has refused to give any details about the “unexpected deaths” of four patients under its care.

South Essex Partnership NHS Trust, which is responsible for mental health care across the area and runs hospitals such as Runwell and Rochford, is investigating the four deaths which happened between September 8 to November 15 this year and were described as serious incidents.

However, it refused to say when and what happened, give even brief details about the deaths or confirm if inquests would take place.

A trust spokesman said: “We are unable to confirm any other potentially patient identifiable information. We would not discuss the specifics of any case due to patient confidentiality or whilst investigations are active. “Inquests are determined by the coroner's office and as such fall outside the remit of the trust for comment.”

All serious incidents within the NHS have to be reported to the local Primary Care Trust and strategic health authority which will monitor and review the internal investigations.

Unexpected deaths can include fatalities during surgery, where the diagnosis is unsure or even accidents and suicides.

The four deaths were revealed in a report to the board of directors of NHS South Essex.

There were also two other serious incidents during the period involving patient records and identification. The trust also recorded 55 serious pressure ulcers.