Fareham MP says lessons must be learnt after Southern Health CEO resigns

Katrina Percy, who has resigned as chief executive of Southern Health
Katrina Percy, who has resigned as chief executive of Southern Health

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LESSONS must be learnt and vulnerable patients must not be failed in future.

Fareham MP Suella Fernandes has issued the challenge following the resignation of Southern Health chief executive Katrina Percy.

I hope the resignation of Katrina Percy demarcates a new chapter for Southern Health

Suella Fernandes

Ms Percy stepped down yesterday after previously resisting huge pressure to resign following a damning report into the trust, which said it had failed to investigate the deaths of hundreds of patients.

Ms Fernandes has chaired meetings on Southern and its failings after the Mazars report and an inspection by the Care Quality Commission, which rated the trust as requires improvement.

She said: ‘This is an issue that has directly affected my constituents in Fareham, and I and other Hampshire MPs have had people raise concerns about the preventable deaths of family members.

‘Every one of these deaths is a personal tragedy for the family and friends concerned, who have lost a father, mother, sister, brother or a close friend, and it is important that this loss is remembered.

‘Lessons must be learnt and vulnerable patients must not be failed in future.

‘The trust needs to do far more to reassure the public that failings are taken seriously and lead to real change.

‘I hope the resignation of Katrina Percy demarcates a new chapter for Southern Health, and urgent action is taken to improve its governance arrangements under new leadership.

‘It’s vital that the confidence of people across the south is restored, and we must urge the public to be supportive at this time.’

Ms Percy was chief executive of the trust for nine years and following her resignation will provide strategic advice to GP leaders in the area.

She said in a statement that ‘the effect the ongoing personal media attention has had on staff and patients’ had made her role untenable.

She added: ‘I have been humbled by the overwhelming support from staff and other colleagues.

‘I know, and understand, that many will say I should have stepped down sooner given the very public concerns which have been raised in the past months. I stayed on as I firmly believed it was my responsibility to oversee the necessary improvements and to continue the ground-breaking work we have begun with GPs to transform care for our patients.’

Campaigner Geoff Hill, who has been raising the profile of some of Southern Health’s failings, said Ms Percy stepping down will not improve the trust.

‘I do not think a change in the chief executive role will change the trust,’ he said.

‘Other people also need to step down for there to be any difference.

‘For Ms Percy to blame the media is ridiculous. If you have failed in leadership and governance and there are uninvestigated deaths, then you should be in the spotlight.’

Southern Health interim chairman Tim Smart said Julie Dawes, who joined the trust in May as director of nursing and quality, will take on the interim chief executive officer role. He added: ‘Katrina has shown great resilience, devoting herself to the patients and staff of Southern Health. I wish her every success in her future endeavours.’