Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Southern Health fined $1.8 million in death of Sara Ryan's son

By Louise Kinross

Yesterday Southern Health in Britain was fined just over $1.8 million dollars for the preventable death of Connor Sparrowhawk, an 18-year-old with autism and seizures who drowned alone in a bath in a National Health Services treatment unit in 2013. The NHS trust that ran the unit initially attributed his death to natural causes, but his parents called for an independent investigation that found his death preventable.

Connor's mother Sara Ryan (above left) had warned staff that Connor appeared to have bitten his tongue and was disoriented during a visit, suggesting a seizure. But he was allowed to bathe unsupervised behind a locked door, where he drowned.

Because of Sara's tenacity, more than 1,000 unexpected deaths of other Southern Health patients with intellectual disabilities or mental illness, that hadn't been investigated, were uncovered.

BLOOM interviewed Sara in 2015: Son's death sparks a search for justice.   

In her statement from the family yesterday, Sara wrote:

"No one should die a preventable death in the care of the state. Learning disabled people should not die on average 20 years before their non-disabled peers. Families should not have to fight for answers and accountability."

2013 inquiry into the deaths of 247 adults and children with intellectual disability in England and Wales found women with intellectual disability died 20 years earlier on average than the general population, and men with developmental disability died 13 years earlier. Over a third of the deaths could have been prevented with good health care. 

Photo below of Connor with his sister Rosie.