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  1. ITV Report

£190,000 payoff for ex-NHS Trust chief 'obscene' says mother of neglect victim

Katrina Percy has left the advisory role she was moved to after resigning as chief executive of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust in August. Credit: PA

The mother of a teenager who died while under the care of a troubled mental health trust has told ITV News it is "obscene" the trust's former chief executive will receive a £190,000 payoff.

Katrina Percy resigned as chief executive in August over Southern Health NHS Trust's failure to investigate hundreds of deaths but went straight into a role specially created for her at the same trust.

She will now receive a £190,000 settlement deal - the equivalent of one year's salary - after agreeing to step down from the new advisory role.

Dr Sara Ryan, whose 18-year-old son Connor Sparrowhawk drowned in a bath at an NHS assessment and treatment unit after an epileptic seizure, said she was "disgusted" by the payoff.

Dr Sara Ryan's son Connor Sparrowhawk died while under the care of Southern Health. Credit: ITV/Family handout

"I think it's good that she's gone, but the payoff is obscene," she told ITV News. "How can the NHS afford such payoffs for people who have failed?"

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, including Mr Sparrowhawk, who died in 2013.

In October 2015, a jury inquest ruled that neglect contributed to his death.

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

Southern Health was criticised over its failure to investigate the unexpected deaths of more than 1,000 people. Credit: ITV Meridian

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

Dr Ryan, who received an abusive voicemail message in May after her public criticism, said she was "not optimistic that things will change at the trust" and criticised Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt for a lack of action.

"It's scandalous that it's taken this long," she said. "It's shameful that Jeremy Hunt has done nothing - it's all been down to the families."

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust said in a statement it had "listened to" and "reflected" on correspondence from the public, patients and families expressing their concerns over Ms Percy's continuing 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.

– Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust

A spokesman for NHS Improvement said Ms Percy's role as chief executive had clearly become untenable but there had been "no legal grounds" on which to dismiss her.

Her payoff comprises of six months' pay in lieu of notice and an entitlement to a further six months' pay as part of the settlement, both of which must be repaid should she get another role with the NHS within 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.

– NHS Improvement spokesman