England

Southern Health chairman Tim Smart resigns after criticism

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Media captionTim Smart said no other candidates were considered for the post

The chairman of a troubled NHS trust criticised for allowing its under-fire chief executive to move to another post on the same pay has resigned.

Last month Katrina Percy stepped down as head of Southern Health over "media attention" after it failed to investigate hundreds of deaths.

Interim chairman Tim Smart was criticised after it emerged a £240,000 a year post was "created for her".

The trust said he stepped down for "personal reasons".

In a statement the trust said: "Since his appointment in May this year, Tim has made a considerable contribution to the trust, driving through changes necessary to improve our services."

'Finite role'

Earlier this month it was revealed Ms Percy had already been doing the work involved in her new job as "part of her portfolio as chief executive" since March 2015.

The role involves giving strategic advice to GPs "joining-up" with the wider NHS. Mr Smart clarified it was a "finite role for a 12-month period".

Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb MP called on Ms Percy to do "the decent thing" and leave the trust.

He said: "There's an impression of a sense of entitlement to an enormous salary for a job that wasn't deemed necessary until a few weeks ago.

"We owe it to all of the families who have suffered poor treatment at the hands of the leadership of this trust to accept that there needs to be accountability."

Image caption Katrina Percy's new post did not previously exist, was not advertised and she was the sole candidate

John Green, a former public governor for Southern Health, said: "I can't imagine why anyone would pay that kind of money to anybody to provide advice.

"It isn't right... [it's about] finding jobs for people that have been loyal to them."

Problems at the trust came to light when 18-year-old Connor Sparrowhawk drowned in a bath at a care facility in Oxford.

An inquest found neglect contributed to his death at Slade House in Oxford in 2013.

A report commissioned by NHS England, published in December 2015, discovered that only 272 of the 722 deaths in the trust over the previous four years were investigated.

In June, Southern Health accepted responsibility for Connor's death and offered his family £80,000 compensation.

His mother Sara Ryan said it was "totally scandalous and shameful" that Ms Percy would keep the same salary in her new role.


Southern Health Timeline

July 2013 - Connor Sparrowhawk, 18, drowns after an epileptic seizure at Oxford unit Slade House. An inquest later rules neglect contributed to his death

11 December 2015 - The BBC reveals details of a leaked Mazars report which highlights a "failure of leadership". Jeremy Hunt says he is "profoundly shocked"

17 December 2015 - The report is officially published and shows out of 722 unexpected deaths over four years, only 272 were properly investigated

6 April 2016 - The Care Quality Commission (CQC) issues a warning notice to significantly improve protection for mental health patients

29 April 2016 - A full CQC inspection report is published, which says the trust is continuing to put patients at risk

30 June 2016 - Following a review of the management team competencies, it is announced that Katrina Percy is to keep her job

29 July 2016 - The BBC reports that the trust has paid millions of pounds in contracts to companies owned by previous associates of Ms Percy

30 August 2016 - Ms Percy announces she is standing down

7 September 2016 - Mr Smart tells the BBC a new £240,000-a-year role was created for Mr Percy and not advertised

19 September 2016 - The trust announces Mr Smart is also standing down


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