26 February 2014
Trust Apologises over Teenage Patient Death
The chief executive of the NHS trust responsible for the death of a teenage boy with learning difficulties has apologised for its mistakes.
Connor Sparrowhawk, 18, was staying at the Slade House inpatient unit, which was run by the Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, when he died after drowning in a bath full of water.
A report released by a coroner revealed the teenager likely suffered from an epileptic seizure before being submerged under water for a prolonged period of time, completely unable to breathe. It was later established the young man should not have been left alone in the bathroom as this left him too exposed to the risks of a seizure.
Months after Mr Sparrowhawk's death, a Care Quality Commission inspection found a number of failings at Slade House and the decision was taken by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust to close it immediately.
Although the accident took place in 2013, the facility remains closed while bosses at the trust attempt to revamp its operations so that patient safety is prioritised. To establish safer working practices, the organisation asked an independent healthcare consultancy group to audit its operations.
It has since brought in a nurse specialising in care for people with epileptic seizures to improve its service provision in this area, but remains committed to carrying out a range of improvements before it opens its doors again.
Part of this work to encourage cultural change will involve liaising with other local trusts that have a better track record in terms of treating people with learning difficulties.
Katrina Percy, chief executive of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust said, "We will continue to make improvements to our services where necessary until we are assured that we are offering the highest quality service to those in our care and that we continue to do so.
"We again would like to express our deep regret and sincere apologies to the Sparrowhawk family."
By Francesca Witney
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