Health trust investigates ‘vindictive cow’ answerphone message left for grieving mother

Community health day planned to educate residents

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SOUTHERN Health NHS Trust is investigating an abusive answerphone message purportedly from a staff member which was left to a mother whose son died while under the mental health provider’s care.

Dr Sara Ryan led a campaign calling for changes in the way the trust operates since death of her son Connor Sparrowhawk, in 2013.

The 18-year-old, who had autism, drowned after suffering an epileptic fit in the bath in Oxford while under the care of the trust – which operates across Hampshire and other parts of the south.

An inquest found that neglect by the trust had contributed to the teenager’s death.

The abusive phone message was left last week as a damning report was published by health regulator the Care Quality Commission.

The message from a woman who claimed to be calling from the trust said: ‘It’s awful that you’ve lost him. But I don’t think you’re being very vindictive. You’re a vindictive cow.’

Dr Ryan said the call was horrific and has passed the details on to police.

The news comes just days after Fareham MP Suella Fernandes called for urgent action in the wake of the CQC’s damning report, which stated the trust is ‘continuing to put patients at risk’.

Southern Health failed to adopt safe bathing guidelines for two-and-a-half years after Connor’s death.

Ms Fernandes chaired a meeting last month with the trust’s Katrina Percy.

During the meeting, which was also attened by Havant MP Alan Mak, the Fareham MP said: ‘Time is running out for the trust to convince me it has the right leadership to make the changes required.’

Ms Fernandes added that after ‘two damning reports, serious changes in the leadership are now needed’.

In response to an urgent question in the House of Commons, Health Minister Alistair Burt said that ‘a balance between continuity and stability’ was needed to ‘ensure that what the Trust has promised is actually delivered’.

Southern Health NHS Trust said it had launched an investigation to discover whether or not the call was made by a member of its staff.

A spokeswoman said: ‘We have been made aware of the phone message through social media, and the content is deeply concerning. The Trust cannot condone such behaviour and we take matters like this extremely seriously.

‘We urge anyone with any information to get in contact with us so a full internal investigation can take place.’