MPs demand action at Southern Health over patient deaths

Havant MP Alan Mak wants action from Southern Health
Havant MP Alan Mak wants action from Southern Health

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ACTION needs to be taken to restore faith in a beleaguered health trust that failed to investigate deaths.

That is the message from MPs who met with Southern Health bosses over failures to investigate deaths of more than 1,000 people with learning or mental health disabilities.

he Hampshire MPs group where I am vice-chairman will continue to hold Southern Health’s feet to the fire until we get the improvements patients deserve

Alan Mak MP

It comes as health regulator Monitor launched an action plan last month which will include spot checks by the Care Quality Commission.

Fareham MP Suella Fernandes, who chaired the meeting with Southern Health chief executive Katrina Percy and medical director Dr Lesley Stevens in attendance.

She said concerned constituents do not want to be fobbed off.

‘Despite having committed to implement the recommendations in the report, the senior directors are still disputing some of its findings, and were critical of much of the media coverage surrounding it,’ she said.

‘Nevertheless, many people are understandably worried by what has come to light, and the trust needs to do more than it has done so far to reassure them that they are taking this matter seriously.

She added: ‘Whilst she (Ms Percy) assured me that changes have already been made at a senior level, I still have concerns about whether this will be enough to satisfy people who rely on these services.

‘It is the overall failure of governance that many will continue to find disturbing.’

Southern was highly criticised after a leaked report by accountancy firm Mazars exposed the failings.

The trust fully accepted all the recommendations of the Mazars report.

Havant MP Alan Mak, who was at the meeting yesterday, has said he wants the health trust to move from apologising to taking action.

‘Patients’ faith in Southern Health needs to be restored fully and quickly,’ he said.

‘The trust has accepted the Mazars report’s recommendations in full, 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.’

Mr Mak added: ‘The Hampshire MPs group where I am vice-chairman will continue to hold Southern Health’s feet to the fire until we get the improvements patients deserve.’

He wants to visit the trust to make sure the trust has implemented changes.

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage was also at the Hampshire All-Parliamentary Group.

‘We want to avoid preventable deaths altogether but where deaths do happen and there’s a necessity for an inquiry or investigation that people should be kept informed at every stage,’ she said.

Ms Fernandes added: ‘There’s a huge human tragedy at the centre of this. I want to see changes made.’

The report published by NHS England found the trust had failed to properly investigate hundreds of deaths over a four-year period.

It found the trust failed to engage properly with families, particularly important when the individuals had a learning disability and/or mental illness and may have been less able to speak up for themselves.

In a statement Southern boss Ms Percy said: ‘Nothing is more important to us than ensuring the people who rely on our services receive safe, high quality care.’