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Health Trust criticised for lack of response.

The mother of a man whose death sparked an inquiry into a health trust has criticised a lack of response after it was revealed that it failed to investigate hundreds of deaths.

The mother of Connor Sparrowhawk, 18, who drowned in a bath while in Southern Health's care, Sara Ryan, said its response following the report into Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust had been "like tumbleweed.”

Southern Health NHS Trust, which provides services to about 45,000 people across Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, has apologised for failings and said systems had improved.

The government's former national director for learning disabilities, Rob Greig, has also described the trust’s response as "profoundly disappointing.”

He said: "The lives of people with learning disabilities is not a sufficient priority for the government."

A report by audit firm Mazars, published in December, said the deaths of hundreds of mental health and learning-disability patients during four years were not properly examined, and blamed a "failure of leadership".

The report was after Connor’s death when he drowned in a bath following an epileptic seizure while a patient at Oxford's Slade House.

Ms Ryan said she assumed there would be "immediate action" over the findings. ''And we couldn't have been more wrong. Astonishingly, the response has been like tumbleweed.''

Mr Greig also questioned why trust chief executive, Katrina Percy, was still in place. ''If I were chief executive of a trust that had a major report accusing me of leadership failure I wouldn't have the audacity to still be there several months later.”

The trust has already said there will be no resignations, and Ms Percy maintains that her job is to oversee change into how the trust records and investigates patient deaths.

Throughout Connor's inquest the trust's legal fees were met by the NHS, but his family had no legal aid.

Ms Ryan said she was now considering crowdfunding to pay for a legal challenge.

A Department of Health spokesperson said work was already under way "to ensure lessons are learnt both by the trust and across the system.”

Deputy chief inspector of hospitals at regulator, the Care Quality Commission, Dr Paul Lelliott, said  it was due to publish its findings after an assessment of the trust.

He said: "Our inspection team assessed the trust's progress in improving how it investigates and responds to patient deaths. This includes considering how the trust engages with the families and carers of people who have been the subject of a 'notifiable safety incident."





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