NHS trust's action plan following patient deaths 'laughable' says bereaved family member

A BEREAVED sister has criticised an NHS trust's 'shameful' action plan following an investigation last year.

Thursday, 13th January 2022, 2:28 pm
Updated Thursday, 13th January 2022, 3:21 pm

In 2021, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust was investigated by NHS England, following the deaths of five patients between 2011 and 2015.

This was followed by a written report from Nigel Pascoe QC.

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Dr Maureen Rickman, from New Milton, is one of the bereaved family members campaigning for an investigation into deaths under the care of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. Picture: David George

Now, an action plan has been published by the trust, outlining what improvements it plans to make – ranging from reviewing policies to introducing medical examiners.

Joanna Deering, from New Milton, died in October 2011 from a drug overdose.

She had been taking antidepressants but relatives say the dosage was too low to have any impact.

Her sister, Dr Maureen Rickman, said: 'To be honest, it's completely laughable. I read the report earlier this week and from the perspective of bereaved families it's hopeless.

'This action plan has nothing to do with the deaths – it doesn't so much as address it. That was the key issue that sparked the Pascoe Report in the first place, but instead all the recommendations are about trust policy.'

Dr Rickman has been campaigning for a true investigation into her sister's death for more than a decade.

But she fears that not only does this action plan stand in the way of this, but doesn't go far enough to stop history repeating itself.

She said: 'When a family member dies under an NHS trust's care, people deserve an honest investigation and honest answers.

'But the way I see it, dishonesty has been built into Southern Health's operations – we are being disenfranchised by the NHS and it's shocking that we've been put into this situation.

'I don't doubt that there are probably more families in this situation as well.'

The report, compiled by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, will be put to Hampshire County Council's health and social care select committee next week.

In the action plan, Southern Health outlines that some changes have already been put in place, such as now offering face-to-face meetings for those with complaints.

Chief executive Ron Shields said: 'The trust fully accepted the important recommendations in the Stage Two report, which also acknowledged the progress made by the trust since 2015.

'We have already addressed a number of recommendations through our comprehensive action plan, and will respond to the remaining points alongside our continuous efforts to get care right first time for patients and their families.'

The committee is expected to discuss the action plan before noting its existence, and will invite Southern Health to come back to the board in March to show how things have been implemented.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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