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Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust inquiry extended for more evidence

THE end of an inquiry into a Hampshire NHS trust has been pushed back so more people can give evidence.

A series of hearings into Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust began last March and was expected to end tomorrow (Friday), writes Maria Zaccaro of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

But it has been confirmed that discussions will continue on 19th and 20th April to allow the panel to hear from more witnesses.

Southern Health is being scrutinised after a report looking into the deaths of five patients between 2011 and 2015 found “significant, serious and deeply regrettable failures”.

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust signage at Tatchbury Mount (46209445)
Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust signage at Tatchbury Mount (46209445)

Alice Scott, panel secretary to the Southern Health NHS Trust Review, said: “The additional days are to allow the panel to hear from all of the witnesses they wish to hear from.”

A report is set to be published after the hearings.

Ms Scott said: “After the oral hearings, there will be a period during which the report is written and we hope that will be published in June.

"The final report will set out the panel’s conclusions as to whether the current policies are appropriate or if they require improvement and if so, it will make recommendations.

"The panel will also consider the extent to which the trust has implemented recommendations from previous reviews and investigations and where further improvements can be made. The list of next week’s participants will be published on Friday.”

At the hearing held yesterday (Wednesday), the panel heard suggestions on measures that could be improved.

Members were also told that some improvements have already been made.

Speaking at the meeting, service user John Green said he would like to see more training, an improved complaint system and the opportunity for service users to give feedback.

He said: “When it comes to significant investigation, at the moment I don’t think anybody is going to trust the existing system. I think we need an independent service. The key to this is to stop deaths, it is to improve quality and safety.”

He said customer feedback should be sought “constantly”.

Talking about his past experience, he added: “I have received a world class performance from a unit in this trust before. That is why I want to see changes.”

Panel members have been looking into the handling of complaints at Southern Health as well as a number of policy including communication with families and patients.

Today Louise Spencer, interim director of quality ICS, told members that improvements have been made but there is still work to do.

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