England

Former Southern Health boss Katrina Percy quits

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Katrina Percy
Image caption Katrina Percy's new post did not previously exist, was not advertised and she was the sole candidate

The former head of troubled Southern Health NHS trust, who was controversially moved to a new post, has quit following months of pressure.

Katrina Percy first stepped down in August, but was given a new advisory role specifically created for her.

The Trust's board said public feedback had led it to decide it was "no longer possible for her to continue".

Ms Percy, who will leave with a £190,000 payout, said she felt "great sadness" but agreed with the decision.

The public response, she said, had caused her to reflect and decide to "leave the trust with immediate effect and seek other opportunities".

On the subject of Ms Percy's settlement, NHS Improvement said: "We know that this won't please some who think she ought to have received no payment at all.

"In situations like this, a perfect deal is not possible.

"But the strong legal advice we have received is that to do anything else would have a much greater cost to the public purse and, as a consequence, would go against good management of public money."

'Public concern'

A Southern Health spokesman said it was looking to pass on her duties, which involved giving strategic advice to GPs, "sooner rather than later".

The "important work" could be shared among several of the trust's GPs, he suggested.

Ms Percy had stepped down from her previous role as chief of Southern Health amid "media attention" after the trust failed to investigate hundreds of deaths.

Despite resigning as CEO after months of pressure, Ms Percy was controversially retained as an advisor on her existing pay and benefits package of nearly £250,000 a year.

The interim chairman of the trust admitted to BBC News at the time no other candidates had been considered, but said it was a "finite role for a 12-month period". He resigned his post three weeks later.

Image copyright JusticeforLB
Image caption Connor Sparrowhawk, 18, who died at Slade House, had epilepsy and experienced seizures

Southern Health's board said it had "received correspondence from the public, patients and families expressing their concerns".

"Both the Trust and NHS Improvement believe it is no longer possible for Katrina to continue in her new advisory role," it said.

"Katrina shares this view and we have worked with NHS Improvement to come to a settlement where she will leave Southern Health with immediate effect, to pursue other opportunities."

Ms Percy faced months of criticism for the way her trust failed to investigate patient deaths when she was chief executive.

In June, the trust accepted responsibility for the death of 18-year-old Connor Sparrowhawk, who drowned in a bath at Slade House in Oxford.

Deborah Coles, director of Inquest, which has supported Connor Sparrowhawk's family, said the resignation "should mark the end of Southern Health's denial of responsibility for systemic failings and the start of vital work to protect the lives of the people in its care".

But campaign group Justice for LB - LB was Connor's nickname, and stands for Laughing Boy - called the settlement "utterly disgraceful".

"We listened to feedback, reflected, decided she wasn't employable and rewarded her with quarter of a million," it tweeted.

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

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