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 The information may be out of date.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

Southern Health Trust pleads guilty in the case of Connor Sparrowhawk

21 Sep 2017

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.

A representative of the trust attended Banbury Magistrates Court on Monday 18 September for the criminal prosecution hearing brought forward by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Southern Health ran the Oxford care facility Slade House, where 18-year-old Connor was admitted. Connor, who had epilepsy, autism and learning disabilities, had a seizure while in the bath and died in 2013.

After this, an investigation by Mazars into Southern Health showed that between 2011 and 2015, around 450 unexpected deaths in its care were not investigated.

Earlier this year, a medical practitioners tribunal found that a number of failings were made in Connor’s care by the doctor in charge at Slade House at the time, Dr Valerie Murphy. Her tribunal will continue in November.

Interim chief executive of Southern Health, Julie Dawes, said in a statement on Monday that the trust is “truly sorry” that they didn’t keep Connor safe. She added that there have been significant changes and improvements in the trust since 2013.

In the statement, the chief executive said: “there have been times when our actions unintentionally added to the distress of Connor’s family”.

Dr Sara Ryan, Connor’s mother, has published a number of blog posts about Connor (also known as Laughing Boy or LB). In these, she has described having to fight the trust every step of the way to get justice for her son.

The facility Slade House was shut down in 2014. Southern Health’s chief executive at the time, Katrina Percy, was forced to resign in 2016 following public pressure. She controversially took a new advisory position within the trust, but after concerns raised from the public, she resigned from this position as well.

Dr Nick Broughton, chief executive of Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust will take up the position of chief executive at Southen Health in November.


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Medical Practitioners Tribunal finds further failings by Dr Valerie Murphy while caring for teenager with epilepsy

A Medical Practitioners Trubunal has found a number of failings made by the consultant psychiatrist in charge of 18-year-old Connor Sparrowhawk’s care at Slade House disability unit.

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