NHS Trust Fined £2m Over Oxford Death

26 March 2018, 07:53

Connor Sparrowhawk

An NHS Trust has been fined two million pounds, over two mental health patients' deaths in Oxfordshire and Hampshire.

Southern Health admitted safety failings after teenager Connor Sparrowhawk drowned in a bath at a unit in Headington in 2013.

45-year-old Teresa Colvin was found unconscious at a hospital near Southampton the year before.

Mr Justice Stuart-Smith said the fine was justified by the "terrible consequences" of the Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust's actions, which led to the deaths of Teresa Colvin and epileptic teenager Connor Sparrowhawk at Slade House care and assessment unit in Oxford.

The trust admitted two counts of failing to discharge its duty relating to their care.

Sentencing at Oxford Crown Court, the judge said the penalty was "a just and proportionate outcome that marks the seriousness of the Trust's offending, the terrible consequences of that offending, and the other material factors that I have indicated".

Speaking after the sentencing, 18-year-old Mr Sparrowhawk's mother Dr Sara Ryan - who has campaigned for justice after her son drowned in the bath while left unsupervised - accused the trust of "arming itself with a range of legal weapons and dirty tricks" following the deaths.

She added: 

"No-one should die a preventable death in the care of the state.

"I'm left thinking if Connor was here now in the shadow of Oxford Crown Court and St Aldates police station, he would say: 'Why mum?' And I would say: 'I don't know, but we've done you proud'."

Dr Nick Broughton, Southern's chief executive since last year - appointed in the wake of resignations at the top of the health trust triggered by a damning report into the deaths - said he wanted to "apologise unreservedly".

Dr Broughton, who was ordered to stand during the final part of the sentencing by the judge as an acknowledgement of the trust's historic failings, added outside court: 

"Those mistakes and those failures had dire consequences.

"Both Connor and Teresa should not have died.

"That is a matter of profound regret to me and the organisation, and I am truly sorry. We let them down and we let their families down."

He said the deaths had "served as a catalyst for change".