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Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust action plan attacked as 'shameful' by bereaved sister Maureen Rickman

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A BEREAVED sister has criticised a New Forest-based NHS trust’s "shameful" action plan following an investigation last year.

In 2021, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust was investigated by NHS England, following the deaths of five patients between 2011 and 2015, writes David George of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

This was followed by a written report from Nigel Pascoe QC and now an action plan has been published by the trust, outlining planned improvements, ranging from reviewing policies to introducing medical examiners.

Maureen Rickman
Maureen Rickman

One of those who died in the care of Southern Health, which has its HQ at Tatchbury Mount in Totton, was Joanna Deering, from New Milton.

She took a drug overdose in October 2011. She had been taking antidepressants but relatives said the dosage was too low to have any impact.

Her sister, Maureen Rickman, reacted to the trust's action, saying: "To be honest, it’s completely laughable. I read the report earlier this week and from the perspective of bereaved families it’s hopeless.

"This action plan has nothing to do with the deaths – it’s doesn’t so much as address it. That was the key issue that sparked the Pascoe report in the first place, but instead all the recommendations are about trust policy."

Dr Rickman has been campaigning for a full investigation into her sister’s death for more than a decade.

But she feared that not only did this action plan stand in the way of that, but it also does not go far enough to stop history repeating itself.

She said: "When a family member dies under an NHS trust’s care, people deserve an honest investigation and honest answers.

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust is based at at Tatchbury Mount
Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust is based at at Tatchbury Mount

"But the way I see it, dishonesty has been built into Southern Health’s operations – we are being disenfranchised by the NHS and it’s shocking that we’ve been put into this situation.

"I don’t doubt that there are probably more families in this situation as well."

The report, compiled by Southern Health, is due to be discussed by Hampshire County Council’s health and adult social care select committee on Tuesday.

In the action plan, Southern Health outlined that some changes have already been put in place, such as offering face-to-face meetings for those with complaints.

Chief executive Ron Shields said: "The trust fully accepted the important recommendations in the [Pascoe] Stage 2 report, which also acknowledged the progress made by the trust since 2015.

"We have already addressed a number of recommendations through our comprehensive action plan, and will respond to the remaining points alongside our continuous efforts to get care right first time for patients and their families."

The HCC committee is expected to discuss the action plan, and will invite Southern Health to come back in March to show how things have been implemented.

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