A HEALTH trust which failed to properly investigate the deaths of hundreds of vulnerable patients could get a major shake-up in a bid to improve.
Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust is to work on a plan following a review of its clinical services that could see it become entirely ‘new and different’, focusing more on mental health and disability support.
The trust has been working very hard to respond to the concerns. It’s really important we alleviate these concerns - we let people down and now are doing as much as we can and rapidly as we can to put that right.Southern’s interim CEO, Julie Dawes
It follows a CQC inspection which concluded ‘significant improvements’ had been made in the structure and work of the trust since its practices first came under scrutiny in December last year.
A review by accountancy firm Mazars found its processes for reporting and investigating deaths of people with learning disabilities and mental health needs weren’t good enough, while interaction with families was lacking.
Southern Health, which provides services to about 45,000 people in the south including Hampshire, has apologised for its failings.
A Southern report, put before Portsmouth’s health, overview and scrutiny panel this week, said: ‘We will use what we learn to make a plan for the future, called a Clinical Services Strategy.
‘We will publish this in February 2017, and then put the plan into action.
‘Our plan might lead to Southern Health transforming into something new and different; the most important thing is that we do what is right for the people who use our services and their carers.’
Southern’s interim CEO, Julie Dawes, appointed after Katrina Percy quit in light of the Mazars scandal, said: ‘The trust has been working very hard to respond to the concerns. It’s really important we alleviate these concerns – we let people down and now are doing as much as we can and rapidly as we can to put that right.’
The CQC followed up the Mazars review with an inspection before issuing the trust with a warning notice. But that is now set to be removed on the back of its latest review, held in September.
Ms Dawes said she could carry on as CEO until next summer while the new strategy is finalised, in conjunction with experts from Deloitte LLP, Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW).
‘We need to be clear what the CEO and chairperson will come into to manage,’ she said. ‘It’s about dealing with a period of stability.’
CONCERNS continue to be raised over the future of Southern Health despite marked improvements in its work.
Staff morale and recruitment, particularly in the field of community nursing, were raised as issues that needed addressing.
Addressing Southern’s interim CEO, Julie Dawes, Ukip councillor Alicia Denny, of Portsmouth’s health, overview and scrutiny panel, said: ‘One of the problems we have had in the past, is working with staff, and staff are so important. I know one woman has resigned from mental health, because of problems with her line manager. She suggested things that should have been improved and was she was a trouble maker.’
Ms Dawes replied: ‘The last year has been a very, very difficult time for staff, and particularly with some of the media scrutiny, that has been hard. But not all staff everywhere (have suffered).’
Low community nursing levels were identified at Gosport War Memorial Hospital - seen as a particular challenge.