NHS trust's apology following patient deaths 'doesn't feel genuine' for Hampshire families

BEREAVED families who have seen loved ones die under an NHS trust's care say an investigation has ‘done nothing’ to get them closer to justice.

Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 4:55 am
Edward Hartley, from Wickham, died at the age of 18 while in the care of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. Picture: Supplied

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust has published findings from an NHS England investigation, which came following five deaths between 2011 and 2015.

The investigation looked at the trust's policies and management, but did not examine the five deaths specifically.

Now, families are calling for the Department of Health to take an independent look at the deaths of their loved ones.

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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: 'From her medical records you could see my sister was deteriorating - she was under the care of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and nobody stepped in to help.

'It has been 10 years since she died and I have been campaigning against the service ever since, but this most recent investigation saw all the families involved strung along for two years.

'When somebody dies like this you expect answers, not to have their deaths glossed over by those who were meant to protect her.

'This investigation had nothing to do with the deaths and us families were written out of the report entirely - the system is biased in favour of the NHS.'

The report concluded that in recent years, changes have been made to improve the relationship between carers, service users and their families – but these changes ‘have not been universal in their impact’.

It added that the ‘gold standard’ has still not been reached.

Ron Shields, chief executive of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘This second report brings important recommendations to help us provide the best possible care to patients, carers and families. I thank the panel and everyone who contributed.

‘On behalf of the trust, I apologise again unreservedly to the families affected by the tragedies of 2011-15 highlighted in Nigel Pascoe’s first report. While we focus on improving services now and in the future, we do not forget or diminish the failings of the past.

But Dr Rickman has hit back, saying that this statement is 'disingenuous' as families never received an apology in the first place.

'Throughout this process we have been stonewalled by the NHS, so to get an apology this late on, issued through the press rather than to families, feels like a kick in the teeth,' she said.

'It just doesn't feel genuine at all, and because the deaths have not been investigated and the failings acknowledged, it is not even clear what the apology is for.'

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust has been contacted by the Local Democracy Reporting Service for further comment.

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