Trust bosses to stand down as patient killings review published

An aerial picture of the Swandean site where the meeting of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust was held. Picture: Eddie Mitchell
An aerial picture of the Swandean site where the meeting of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust was held. Picture: Eddie Mitchell
  • Three executives of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust are to stand down in the new year, it has been announced
  • The trust has been subject to controversy about killings involving its patients, including the killer of Don Lock
  • The trust commissioned an independent review into ten killings which criticised how it deals with the families involved
  • After the review was published, one of the trust’s governors called for its head doctor – who will be resigning – to be sacked

The chief executive and two directors of the mental health trust at the centre of controversy over patients involved in killings are standing down from their posts.

It was discussed at a meeting which was held on Wednesday, October 26 at the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s headquarters in Worthing.

Matthew Daley, pictured, stabbed Don Lock 39 times last year. His death sparked the NHS review into killings by patients

Matthew Daley, pictured, stabbed Don Lock 39 times last year. His death sparked the NHS review into killings by patients

The announcement was made in a report by Colm Donaghy, Chief Executive of the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

In his written report, he said Dr Tim Ojo, Executive Medical and Quality Director, ‘has taken the decision to step down from his post next year and will remain with us as a consultant psychiatrist following seven years in the role’. Dr Ojo is the head doctor at the trust and oversees the quality of its care.

Mr Donaghy added in his report that he will retire at the end of March next year, and that Lorraine Reid, Executive Director of Performance and Service Delivery, also plans to retire then. This follows the announcement last month that Mr Donaghy would be retiring.

The news comes after one of the trust’s governors called for Dr Ojo to be sacked following a critical review into ten killings by or of patients.

The wrong thing to do would be to sack somebody. What that means is if staff are upfront and transparent, they could be sacked, which is the opposite to learning lessons

Colm Donaghy, Chief Executive of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Published on Tuesday last week, the review criticised the trust for underestimating the risk patients posed to others, not re-evaluating long-term patients, not considering the views of families enough and for staff not knowing when they can section someone.

Michael Chambers, from Horsham, is one of 32 members of the trust’s Council of Governors and called for Dr Ojo to go.

Following the news of his resignation, Mr Chambers said ‘immediate action’ needed to be taken to remove Dr Ojo from his post, and disagreed with the decision to keep him on as a consultant.

Speaking before the meeting, Mr Donaghy said that Mr Chambers’ call to have him sacked would send out the wrong message to staff and to the public. “Michael is entitled to his opinion as a governor as part of his role is to hold the directors to account, but the purpose of this review was to learn lessons, not to hold individuals accountable.

“The wrong thing to do would be to sack somebody. What that means is if staff are upfront and transparent, they could be sacked, which is the opposite to learning lessons.

“We had no requirement to publish the review, but we did it to provide that level of assurance to the people of Sussex that we are prepared to learn lessons.”

At the meeting, trust director Richard Bayley suggested a six-month review into staff practice to make sure learning was being embedded. This idea was agreed by Mr Donaghy.

Chair of the board, Caroline Armitage, said the changes were not a ‘reactive’ process but were being put in place before the review.

Important changes that had been made so far were allowing staff the time to reflect on their care after a serious incident involving patients, and involving staff, carers and family members in decision making. This is in order to prevent the ‘over-familiarisation’ of staff with their patients which may prevent them from recognising when their care needs to change.

A family liaison service similar to the police model has also been introduced.

Dr Ojo expressed his sadness ‘for the families affected’ by the killings.

Trust director Martin Richards said: “It is a genuine sorrow, expressed from the top to the bottom, when these deaths happen, and we want to be an organisation that operates with humility to put things right.”

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