Grieving father considers taking legal action against health trust after damning leaked report

  • Pub landlord from Clanfield says the problems are ‘systematic failures’
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A GRIEVING father is considering taking legal action against a health trust in light of a damning report about it failing to investigate unexpected deaths.

Chris Lynch branded it ‘ridiculous’ after a leaked report showed Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust did not investigate the unexpected deaths of more than 1,000 mental health and learning-disability patients.

Mr Lynch’s daughter, Joanna Lynch, died last year at the age of 30 after taking an overdose of prescription medication.

An inquest in January heard her desperate pleas to be admitted to hospital and threats to take her own life were not acted upon by staff at Southern Health.

At the time, the organisation, which runs mental health services in south-east Hampshire, said lessons had been learned and changes had been put in place to better support people during a crisis.

But Mr Lynch said the damning report suggested deep-rooted problems in the organisation.

The draft report, commissioned by NHS England and carried out by auditor Mazars, looked at more than 10,000 deaths at the trust between April 2011 and March 2015, of which 1,454 were unexpected.

It found just 195 – 13 per cent – were treated as a ‘serious incident requiring investigation’ and the likelihood of an unexpected death being investigated depended hugely on the type of patient.

Mr Lynch, who runs The Rising Sun pub in Clanfield, is now seeking legal advice about whether to take action against Southern Health.

He said: ‘This has all the hallmarks of a systematic failure in processes, in communication and management.

‘It’s systematic and it’s institutionalised in the practices that are going on.’

He added: ‘What we did not realise is things been going on years before Joanna became involved.

‘If good comes of this and other parents don’t have to go through losing their own child or a relation, then it will be worthwhile. I think we were fobbed off.’

Meanwhile, Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage has spoken of her concerns.

She said: ‘Although this report is in draft form, it is damning of Southern Health’s investigation into the deaths of disabled and mentally ill patients.

‘This is obviously of immense concern to those of us who represent families in this region. Local MPs will need answers and we have asked to meet Southern Health as a matter of urgency.’

A statement from Southern Health said improvements have already been made, including setting up a new central investigation team.

The statement added: ‘When the final report is published by NHS England we will review the recommendations and make any further changes necessary to ensure the processes through which we report, investigate and learn from deaths are of the highest possible standard.’