Calls to move from ‘apologies to action’ at failing health trust

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  • Fareham MP and Havant MP speak out at Commons debate about Southern Health
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CALLS were made for ‘far-reaching’ changes at a failing health trust during a Parliamentary debate.

Fareham MP Suella Fernandes led the 90-minute debate which highlighted serious blunders at Southern Health NHS Trust that have left scores of families angry and upset.

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health services across Hampshire, was recently inspected by the Care Quality Commission.

Inspectors found the trust had not put in place robust governance arrangements to investigate deaths of patients with mental health problems and learning disabilities.

In her speech, Ms Fernandes told the chamber: ‘My constituent Richard West is one those relatives.

‘His son David died in 2013 and he has been seeking answers from the trust ever since.

‘At times, the handling of his case has been very poor indeed. Mr West, a former detective and policeman, says that he was ignored and was even told by a representative of the trust that the deaths of patients in its care was like “an airline losing baggage”.’

She said other families had experienced similar ‘insensitive treatment’.

Calling for ‘lessons to be learned’, she added: ‘Time and again, in report after report, Southern Health has been criticised for its failures of management and leadership, and the effects that has had on its care.’

Ahead of the debate, Ms Fernandes met with patients and families affected by issues at Southern Health.

Ms Fernandes met with the Trust’s new interim chairman, Tim Smart, who took over from Mike Petter, who stood down in April.

She said: ‘He has been conducting an initial review of governance, and I am pleased to hear from him that he expects to make some announcements on his findings and proposals within the next month. I am sure I speak for many when I say that we will be looking for some far-reaching changes to recognise the gravity of the situation.’

Ms Fernandes said she was finding it ‘difficult to have confidence’ in the position of Southern’s chief executive Katrina Percy.

Havant MP Alan Mak also joined the debate and called on Southern Health to move from ‘apologies to action’ following the death of one his constituents, 30-year-old David Hinks, last year.

He added: ‘The trust has got a new leadership structure that have accepted the recommendations...so it’s now time to move from apologies to action. Better procedures, improved staff training, stronger communication with families, and learning from past mistakes are all needed.’