England

Southern Health claims all deaths now investigated

Southern Health
Image caption The trust has apologised for previous failings and said systems had improved

An under-fire health trust criticised for not investigating the "unexpected deaths" of patients says it is now reviewing all fatalities.

A review of Southern Health NHS Trust found it only investigated 37% of deaths over a four-year period.

Problems came to light in 2013 when a man at a care facility in Oxford drowned in a bath having had an epileptic fit.

The trust said all deaths since December have now been reviewed.

According to a new report conducted by the trust, all 259 deaths since then were reviewed by a clinical panel which decided whether a full investigation was required.

'Quality concerns'

The report said: "We have made extensive changes to the way we record and investigate deaths of any patient who use services."

NHS Improvement - the new body in charge of monitoring the quality of trusts - has taken regulatory action against Southern Health and will continue assessing the trust for some time.

Image caption Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Katrina Percy has faced repeated calls to resign after critical reports have said there were "longstanding risks to patients"

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.

There were further calls for resignations among the trust's leadership at a meeting of Oxfordshire County Council's .

Committee member Laura Price said a change of culture was needed and asked why a change of leadership at Southern Health had not "seriously been put on the table".

Medical director of Southern Health, Lesley Stevens told the meeting there had been an "enormous amount of pressure and scrutiny" around the leadership of the organisation.

"We know what we need to do here. We've got a lot of external scrutiny, we're providing a lot of assurance around the improvement on safety of our services. We want to get on and deliver it."

The council and Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group had previously decided not to renew Southern Health's contract to provide services for people with learning disabilities due to "quality and performance concerns".

In 2013, 18-year-old Connor Sparrowhawk died at Slade House in Oxford when he drowned in a bath after suffering an epileptic fit.

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

The trust currently provides services to residents in Buckinghamshire, Dorset, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire.

The "continuing concerns" over the governance of the trust will be debated in parliament, after Southern Health's chief executive Katrina Percy addressed MPs at the Hampshire All-Party Parliamentary Group on Tuesday.

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