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Southern Health Trust fined £2m over breaching health and safety laws in cases of Connor Sparrowhawk and Teresa Colvin

9 Apr 2018

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust has been fined £2m following the preventable deaths of two patients in its care.

Teresa Colvin and Connor Sparrowhawk both died at facilities run by the trust in 2012 and 2013. Connor, who was 18, drowned in the bath at Slade House in Oxford, following an epileptic seizure.

Southern Health pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety laws in September last year. The trust was sentenced on 26 March 2018 at Oxford Crown Court. Mr Justice Stuart-Smith said that the fine to be paid “marks the seriousness of the trust’s offending”.

In passing the sentence, the judge acknowledged that Connor’s mother, Dr Sara Ryan, had faced “entirely unjustified criticism”. He also called the need for the families to campaign to uncover the “serious systemic problems” within the trust “a regrettable fact”.

In a statement, Connor’s family said: “No one should die a preventable death in the care of the state. Learning disabled people should not die on average twenty years before their non-disabled peers.

“Families should not have to fight for answers and accountability. They should not have to raise funds for legal representation at a time of unspeakable grief and pain.”

Roger Colvin, Teresa’s husband, paid tribute to his wife, saying she was “a vivacious, beautiful and loving woman”.

Dr Nick Broughton, the current Chief Executive of Southern Health said: “I feel deeply saddened and am truly sorry that we let [Teresa and Connor] down with such devastating consequences. Their deaths were avoidable, entirely preventable and should never have occurred.

“Personally, and on behalf of the trust board, I apologise unreservedly.

“I know that words can do little to ease the enormity of the respective families' losses and pain. But Teresa and Connor’s deaths have been genuine catalysts for change, and I sincerely hope our actions to improve care as a direct result provide some comfort, however small.”

The doctor in charge of Connor’s care, Valerie Murphy, was suspended for 12 months by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in February.

The Epilepsy Action website has more information on safety and care plans for people with epilepsy.


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Southern Health Trust pleads guilty in the case of Connor Sparrowhawk

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust has pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety law in the case of Connor Sparrowhawk who died at a facility ran by the trust in 2013.

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