Southern Health has made ‘significant improvements’ following deaths of patients

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NHS Improvement is today lifting some of the regulatory undertakings placed on Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust more than two years ago, after an independent review highlighted progress in a number of areas.

Following the independent ‘Mazars’ report into a number of serious failings in the way the trust investigated the deaths of vulnerable patients, NHS Improvement took action in 2016 requiring it to implement a number of recommendations.

An independent audit of the trust’s progress to do so found real progress in the way it investigates and reports patient deaths, and involves family members in the process.

The trust was fined £2m for the deaths of Connor Sparrowhawk and Teresa Colvin in March after admitting ‘systemic failures’ and pleading guilty to breaching health and safety laws.

The Mazars report found the organisation did not investigate the deaths of more than 1,000 mental health and learning disability patients properly.

The review by Niche Health and Social Care Consulting and Grant Thornton LLP during 2017 concluded that Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust had made significant improvements in all of the areas that were recommended in the Mazars report.

Anne Eden, regional director south east, NHS Improvement and NHS England, said: ‘The historic failings at the Trust are well documented and it is right that the Trust has been held to account for them. However, this is encouraging progress which represents improvements in services for local patients and should also be recognised.

‘Southern Health continues to be subject to regulatory action from NHS Improvement to ensure they maintain momentum in their work and provide the highest standards of care expected of all NHS trusts.

‘We will continue to work with the new leadership team at the trust to drive improvement, deliver for local patients and build the confidence of the local community.’

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust runs a number of services across the city.

The Mazars report is the independent review of deaths of people with a learning disability or mental health problem in contact with Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, from April 2011 to March 2015. It was published in December 2015.

The trust has made further positive changes that provide additional confidence that the time is right to lift some of the regulatory requirements in place.

The board of the trust has greater clinical representation and involves more mental health expertise than before ensuring that patient care is at the centre of every decision.

NHS Improvement is responsible for overseeing foundation trusts, NHS trusts and independent providers.

Dr Nick Broughton, chief executive of Southern Health said: ‘The audit findings published at the beginning of the year were very encouraging. NHS Improvement’s actions today reinforce these findings and demonstrate that Southern Health is making genuine progress in changing the culture of the organisation to one that continuously improves and learns.

‘Improving the quality of our services remains our top priority and we are embracing a substantial transformation programme which will see us take on new approaches and methodologies to improve our services and the care we provide.

‘We know we still have more to do and there will be further challenges ahead, but I firmly believe we are well on the way to creating an organisation that our patients and their families deserve.’