England

Families demand resignations over Southern Health NHS Trust deaths

Board meeting
Image caption The board reiterated its position that there would be no resignations

Board members at an under-fire NHS trust say there will be no resignations despite concerns over the lack of investigation into hundreds of deaths.

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust held an emergency board meeting after an inquiry found it had failed to investigate hundreds of deaths.

Families attended the meeting and called for chief executive Katrina Percy to resign.

The trust has apologised for failings and said systems have improved.

Chair of the trust Mike Petter said at the meeting no-one would resign over the issues.

Southern Health covers Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire and provides services to about 45,000 people.

The NHS England report, published last month, found the trust had failed to investigate hundreds of deaths over a four-year period.

Image caption Campaigners attended the trust's board meeting.

But its critics have blamed a lack of leadership and demands have grown for the chief executive Katrina Percy to resign.

Last month Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt described the trust's failings as "totally and utterly unacceptable".

Missed opportunities

About 50 people attended the meeting to confront Ms Percy and the rest of the board.

They were led by Sara Ryan, the mother of Connor Sparrowhawk, an 18-year-old with learning disabilities who drowned in a bath in Oxford in 2013 while under the care of Southern Health.

They want the leadership of the trust to resign or be sacked by regulators.

Tom Ryan, Mr Sparrowhawk's 16-year-old brother, said at the meeting: "I think it's outrageous that you haven't properly actually apologised to my family, or even acknowledged the fact of what my mum has done, and you should be proud of her for pointing out your flaws so that you can at least improve them, because without her, you'd be useless."

Mr Percy said in response: "We are all, myself personally and all of us, incredibly sorry that the actions and the care allowed Connor to die.

"We can't imagine the pain for you losing a brother, for your mum losing a son, and for the rest of your family.

"We completely understand that Connor's death was preventable.

"Connor should not have been in a bath with epilepsy, and we absolutely agree with that, and we are just so sorry that we didn't prevent his death."

Image caption Demands have grown for the trust's chief executive Katrina Percy to resign

The official inquiry covered a period from April 2011 to June 2015.

It found that many deaths were not investigated, and the quality of the investigations that were carried out were described as poor and much delayed.

The trust was said to have missed opportunities to learn from deaths and to have suffered from a lack of transparency.

BBC News has learned that a former director at the trust has a role at NHS England looking after patient safety.

Dr Martyn Diaper was medical director (quality) at the trust for a year from July 2014.

During the same time, he held two posts at NHS England - head of patient safety (primary care) and chairman of national patient safety expert group for primary care. He retains both posts.

NHS England said it continued to have confidence in Dr Diaper and said his actions had improved systems at the trust, which was recognised in the official report.

In a statement to BBC News, Dr Diaper said: "As a result of my efforts, rapid and significant improvements were made in the way the trust looked at failures in care."

Image copyright Sara Ryan
Image caption Connor Sparrowhawk, who died at Oxford's Slade House, had epilepsy and experienced seizures

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