Southern Health NHS Trust still has 'unresolved issues', independent inquiry finds
SOUTHERN Health NHS Foundation Trust still has "difficult unresolved issues", the latest stage of an investigation has found.
A report published this morning (Thursday) by NHS England revealed a three-person panel has made 39 recommendations and outlined nine learning points to the trust (SHFT).
It went on to state that "there is a real need for continuing systematic and practical reform" since there are "still significant gaps to be filled and some difficult unresolved issues" which "are matters of concern".
It added: "The panel have concluded that SHFT has some way to go on its journey to address all of the policy areas in the terms of reference. The ‘gold standard’ and areas of improvement that participants identified have not yet been achieved.
"There is still a fundamental need to get it right first time, every time."
Southern Health is based at Tatchbury Mount, near Totton, and runs mental health services in Hampshire and several hospitals, including at Lymington.
The independent investigation, led by Nigel Pascoe QC, was set up to investigate the deaths of five people between October 2011 and November 2015, which occurred while they were under the care of the trust.
When the first report was published, Mr Pascoe described the events as a “truly deplorable and unacceptable saga”.
Now a second report has been published, having looked at specific policies in a second round of hearings, such as investigative processes, handling complaints, and communication with service users and families.
However, the families of patients affected refused to take part, claiming the process was a "sham".
It heard evidence from patients and carers, the trust and the local clinical commissioning group over a seven-week period.
The report said: "In conclusion, the panel have formed the view that, in the last two years, there has been evidence of improvement by SHFT towards increased engagement with service users, carers and family members.
"But these changes have not been universal in their impact and the evidence, taken as a whole, suggests that they have not always happened to the standards expected, or in some cases, at all."
Responding to the findings, Ron Shields, SHFT chief executive, said: "This second report brings important recommendations to help us provide the best possible care to patients, carers and families. I thank the panel and everyone who contributed.
"On behalf of the trust, I apologise again unreservedly to the families affected by the tragedies of 2011-15 highlighted in Mr Pascoe’s first report. While we focus on improving services now and in the future, we do not forget or diminish the failings of the past.
"As the report acknowledges, the trust has made significant improvements since then – but we know there is much more for us to do, in partnership with service users and their families, to get things right first time, every time.
"Making these changes remains our absolute priority and we will now produce a detailed plan to reflect the report’s recommendations, showing where we have already made changes and how we will make the further improvements necessary."