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Trust admits guilt over teenage patient’s death

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust has admitted their guilt over the death of a teenage patient.

The Trust provides mental health and learning disability services to patients in Hampshire and Oxfordshire.

Connor Sparrowhawk, who was aged just 18 years old, died in July 2013 whilst a patient of the Trust at Slade House, a specialist treatment and assessment unit, in Oxfordshire.

Connor, who was known to suffer from epilepsy, drowned in the bath after suffering an epileptic seizure, whilst he was an in-patient at the unit.

A medical tribunal in August 2017 found that Connor’s epilepsy had not been properly assessed or managed and there had been failures on the part of the doctors employed by the Trust to carry out proper risk assessments for Connor, which resulted in no adequate supervision during bath times.

This, tragically, led to Connor’s avoidable and preventable death.

The Trust pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety law and face an unlimited fine when sentenced at Oxford Crown Court early next year.

Slade House closed in 2014, following Connor’s death.

Julia Dawes, the Trust’s Interim Chief Executive, described Connor’s death as entirely preventable in a statement following the hearing, and apologised for not keeping Connor safe whilst he was a patient at the Trust. Ms Dawes also confirmed that Connor’s death had led to significant changes and improvements at the Trust, which will hopefully prevent such a tragedy happening again.

Any death is devastating for the family and friends of the deceased, but it is particularly so when the death was avoidable and occurred as a result of a lack of care on the part of medical professions who are entrusted to look after our loved ones.

If you have any concerns about care provided to you or a family member in any clinical setting, and would like advice about the possibility of making a claim then please contact our experienced medical negligence team on 01302 320621 or email

Author: Laura Armstrong



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