Southern Health pledges to improve after failure to investigate hundreds of deaths

Peter Edgar wanted clarification over the number of deaths not properly investigated by Southern Health
Peter Edgar wanted clarification over the number of deaths not properly investigated by Southern Health
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THE boss in charge of a health trust criticised for failing to properly investigate the deaths of hundreds of vulnerable patients has vowed to solve flaws in its work.

Southern Health chief operating officer Dr Chris Gordon made a pledge to carry out improvements after admitting the trust’s processes weren’t good enough.

That would have caused stress and unhappiness to the carers and loved ones and we have apologised for that.

Southern Health chief operating officer Dr Chris Gordon

It follows the publication of a report by auditor Mazars exposing flaws into investigations of the deaths of about 1,454 people with severe learning and mental health problems who Southern had either direct or partial involvement with.

Addressing Portsmouth City Council’s health, overview and scrutiny panel yesterday, Dr Gordon said changes made include:

n Setting up a new investigation team to improve the quality and consistency of investigations and learning.

n Launching a new system for reporting and investigating deaths.

n Ensuring every case is reviewed by a clinically-led panel within 48 hours. In cases deemed not to require further investigation, the trust will demonstrate to relatives and carers why such a decision has been taken.

n Providing every family with the opportunity to be involved in investigations relating to a death of a loved one.

Dr Gordon said: ‘Our investigations were too slow and we acknowledge that.

‘That would have caused stress and unhappiness to the carers and loved ones and we have apologised for that.’

Gosport health spokesman Peter Edgar praised the trust for handling well the ‘barrage of criticism’ it has faced but sought clarification over how many patients died under Southern Health’s care.

Dr Gordon said of the deaths in the Mazars report, 91 were under the direct care of Southern Health.

More than half of the 91 were deemed to be on an ‘end of life pathway’.

Dr Gordon added that more than 90 per cent of the 1,454 deaths in question did not happen in Southern Health hospitals.

But the trust acknowledged there needs to be more of a joined-up approach across the NHS over which health sector is responsible for investigations.

Addressing Dr Gordon, panel chairman Cllr John Ferrett said: ‘Does this require additional resources?’

Dr Gordon said additional funding was being put in by Southern.

The trust has re-structured its board and hired new executive level doctors and nurses in July 2014.