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Monday, 10 October 2016

Former Southern Health chief handed £190,000 payoff to quit advisory role

Written by The Press Association

The former chief executive of a troubled mental health trust has been given a £190,000 payoff after she left her latest role.

Katrina Percy's role leading Southern Health had become untenable but there had been "no legal grounds" on which to dismiss her, a spokesman for NHS Improvement said.

Ms Percy (pictured) faced repeated calls to resign over Southern Health's failure to investigate hundreds of deaths.

She stepped down in August but went straight into a role specially created for her at the same trust with a £240,000-a-year salary and benefits.

Ms Percy has now left that advisory role, but will receive a £190,000 settlement deal - the equivalent of one year's salary - the trust confirmed.

Southern Health said in a statement that it had "listened" to feedback from the public, patients and families expressing their "concerns" about her new role.

"Both the trust and NHS Improvement believe it is no longer possible for Katrina to continue in her new advisory role.

"Katrina shares this view and we have worked with NHS Improvement to come to a settlement where she will leave Southern Health with immediate effect, to pursue other opportunities."

NHS Improvement said that dismissing Ms Percy would "open the trust and the wider NHS up to potential litigation and the very real possibility of significant costs to the taxpayer".

A spokesman for the organisation explained that it had worked with Southern Health to renegotiate with Ms Percy for her to leave its employment immediately.

He said: "Her contract with Southern Health entitles her to six months' pay in lieu of notice. She will also be entitled to a further six months' pay as part of the settlement. She will need to repay both of these payments if she gets a role in the NHS within the next 12 months.

"We know that this won't please some who think she ought to have received no payment at all, and in situations like this, a perfect deal is not possible.

"But the strong legal advice we have received is that to do anything else would have a much greater cost to the public purse and, as a consequence, would go against good management of public money."

The trust hit the headlines after it was revealed it failed to investigate the unexpected deaths of hundreds of its patients between 2011 and 2015.

This included 18-year-old Connor Sparrowhawk, who died in 2013.

In October, a jury inquest ruled that neglect contributed to the death of Mr Sparrowhawk, who drowned after an epileptic seizure at Slade House in Headington, Oxfordshire.

But in April, inspectors concluded that the trust was still failing to protect patients from risk of harm.

Care Quality Commission inspectors found that robust arrangements to probe incidents, including deaths, had not been put in place, resulting in "missed opportunities" to prevent similar events.

The Twitter account for JusticeforLB, which is partly run by Mr Sparrowhawk's mother, Sara Ryan, said: "Utterly disgraceful that (KatrinaP) should receive any sort of settlement."

Deborah Coles, director of Inquest, which has supported Mr Sparrowhawk's family, said: "The resignation of Katrina Percy should mark the end of Southern Health's denial of responsibility for systemic failings and the start of vital work to protect the lives of the people in its care."

In June, Southern Health accepted full responsibility for Mr Sparrowhawk's death.

Former health minister Norman Lamb said: "It was insulting that Ms Percy was offered this very lucrative advisory position at the trust ... and for her now to be offered such a generous payout is a completely unjustifiable reward for failure."

How the Southern Health crisis unfolded

The former chief executive of Southern Health - Katrina Percy - has been given a £190,000 payoff after she left her latest role. Here is a timeline of the events leading up to her departure from the troubled NHS trust:

  • October 16 2015 - A jury inquest rules that neglect contributed to the death of Connor Sparrowhawk, who drowned after an epileptic seizure at Slade House, in Headington, Oxfordshire - run by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust - in 2013.
  • December 10 2015 - An independent investigation finds Southern Health has failed to probe the deaths of hundreds of people since 2011.
  • December 17 2015 - Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt orders a review into how deaths are investigated by NHS trusts following the report into Southern Health.
  • April 6 2016 - The Care Quality Commission (CQC) issues a warning notice to Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust telling it it must urgently improve to "protect patients who are at risk of harm".
  • April 28 2016 - Inspectors find that Southern Health is still not doing enough to protect patients in their care from risk of harm, and that robust arrangements to probe incidents, including deaths, had not been put in place.
  • May 3 2016 - Labour's shadow mental health minister Luciana Berger says the CQC report suggested "very little" had been done to improve the performance of the trust.
  • June 9 2016 - The family of Connor Sparrowhawk are awarded £80,000 compensation.
  • June 30 2016 - Southern Health announces that its chief executive Katrina Percy will stay in her role after a review found no "negligence or incompetence" had been committed by any individual board member.
  • July 29 2016 - Southern Health defends its payments of millions of pounds to consultancies run by professional contacts of Ms Percy.
  • August 30 2016 - Ms Percy announces her decision to stand aside after nine years at the trust, saying her role became "untenable".
  • September 7 2016 - Southern Health admits creating a new job providing "strategic advice to local GP leaders" for Ms Percy - awarding her the same pay and benefits of around £240,000 a year.
  • September 19 2016 - Tim Smart, interim chairman of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, stand asides from the role "for personal reasons".
  • October 7 2016 - Ms Percy leaves her latest role following "concerns" from the public - receiving a £190,000 settlement deal.

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