A MAJOR investigation into the quality of care provided to self-harmers by a local health trust is being launched today (Tuesday).

The Healthcare Commission, a watchdog which checks on standards, has started the investigation after allegations were made about the West london Mental Health NHS Trust.

Investigators will look at the period from April 2005 to the present day to see how the trust responded to safety incidents over that period, particularly focussed on self-harmers and the systems in place to stop them hurting themselves again.

The investigation comes after impromptu visits to some of the 32 sites run by the trust across Ealing, Hounslow and Hammersmith and Fulham, by officers on February 13.

Particular focus is being put on how many incidents have occurred, how they were dealt with and how these "near misses" were investigated.

Nigel Ellis, the commission's head of investigations, said: "Clearly, there are particularly challenging safety issues that have to be managed at mental health trusts.

"It is crucial that every trust monitors and manages risks in order to protect the safety of patients. This investigation will look into how this is done at West London Mental Health NHS Trust.

"We are not saying the services provided by the trust are unsafe. If we believed they were unsafe we would take immediate action. But we have a duty to patients to be certain that all necessary systems are in place to manage risks.

"We are pleased to have the full co-operation of the trust in our work and will report back fully and publicly in due course, making recommendations to improve services if necessary."

Service users, their families and staff members will all be interviewed as part of the investigation and people who think they might be able to contribute to the investigation can telephone 0845 601 3012.