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This article was published in August 2017. The information may be out of date. Please check our epilepsy information or our site A-Z.

Dr Valerie Murphy in charge of Connor Sparrowhawk’s care at Slade House admits failures before medical practitioners tribunal

8 Aug 2017

The consultant psychiatrist in charge of 18-year-old Connor Sparrowhawk’s care at Slade House disability unit has admitted a number of failings at a tribunal hearing on August 7.

Connor Sparrowhawk drowned in the bath after having an epileptic seizure, while he was an inpatient at the Oxford Southern Health NHS foundation facility in 2013. The teenager had autism, learning disabilities and epilepsy.

Dr Valerie Murphy appeared before a medical practitioners tribunal and has admitted to 30 failings in Connor Sparrowhawk’s care.

Dr Murphy has admitted failing to obtain a full history of Connor’s epilepsy and seizures. She has also admitted failures regarding providing adequate care and management plans for Connor’s epilepsy, and specifically regarding bathroom and shower needs.

However, Dr Murphy has not accepted all allegations against her, including claims around completing adequate mental health assessments.

In 2015, an inquest into Connor’s death found that there were ‘serious failings’ and ‘neglect’ with regard to his care at the facility, where Dr Murphy was employed. In a 2016 public statement, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust accepted responsibility for the teenager’s death.

Epilepsy Action deputy chief executive Simon Wigglesworth said: “Around 1,000 people die every year as a result of their epilepsy and as many as 400 of these deaths could be prevented. Dr Murphy’s admissions have shown a shocking failure to deliver a basic level of care and treatment for Connor, whose death was absolutely avoidable. It will bring no comfort to his family to know resources that were in place to keep their son safe were not used.

“Care plans are there for a reason – to ensure epilepsy treatment and management is as safe and effective as possible. It is vital that professionals caring for people with epilepsy in care, support and treatment settings have been properly trained to fully understand the condition and all its implications. In fact, it is the very least that people with epilepsy deserve.”

The tribunal will continue until 18 August. 


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Southern Health trusts accepts responsibility for death of Connor Sparrowhawk

In a public statement, the Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust has accepted responsibility for the death of 18-year-old Connor Sparrowhawk, who drowned in a bath in 2013.

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