• John Green tendered his resignation from Southern Health Foundation Trust’s council of governors on Wednesday
  • His resignation follows the departure of chair Mike Petter and governor Mark Aspinall earlier this year
  • HSJ understands Mr Green resigned because he felt the trust’s response to the Mazars report was “farcical”

A governor at an under fire mental health trust has resigned over its “farcical” response to the investigation into the deaths of patients in its care, HSJ has learned.

John Green tendered his resignation from Southern Health Foundation Trust’s council of governors in a letter to company secretary Anna Williams on Wednesday.

He is the second public governor to stand down at the trust in the wake of widely-publicised death of 18-year-old Connor Sparrowhawk, who drowned in a bath at the trust’s short assessment and treatment unit in Oxfordshire.

His death sparked a series of investigations into the the trust, including the Mazars report and a CQC inspection, both of which were highly critical of Southern Health.

In the wake of those reports governor Mark Aspinall and trust chair Mike Petter both resigned in April.

In his letter Mr Green said he had written to community and social care minister Alistair Burt to express his ”dismay at the farcical way” the trust and the NHS has managed affairs since the Mazars report.

Mr Green said his resignation followed the decision of interim chair Tim Smart not to “censure” the board for “past failures” the trust has admitted never should have happened.

He added: “I also indicated my dissatisfaction as to the conclusion and decision by the interim chair of the trust/NHS Improvement not to censure the trust board - a decision that appears not to address the culpability of board members for past failures in respect of unexpected deaths; deaths that the Trust itself has stated ‘should never have happened’.”

He added that the public were entitled to a “full and detailed explanation” as to the reasoning behind the decision.

He said: “Whilst I have no doubt whatsoever as to the dedication of the trust’s front line workforce, support staff and operational managers… I no longer have any confidence in the board of the trust.”

“Of the last four years,” he added: “I have found this to be one of the most interesting, albeit bizarre, business experiences of my life.

“Frankly, as a case study in business and management failure, ‘You could not make it up’.”

The audit firm Mazars published a report in December highlighting failures at Southern Health to properly investigate and learn from the deaths of hundreds of mental health and learning disability service users.

Southern Health announced last month that it formally accepted responsibility for the death of Connor Sparrowhawk, and accepted it made “unlawful acts and ommissions” in relation to the teenager’s death.

Despite repeated calls from campaigners for the trust’s chief executive Katrina Percy to resign, she has refused to step down.

Interim chair Tim Smart announced earlier this month that Southern Health will lose its learning disabilities services in Oxfordshire, but said Ms Percy would stay on in a strategy-focused role instead of concentrating on operational matters.

Fellow governor Peter Bell posted part of Mr Green’s resignation letter on the social networking site LinkedIn, and said it was “such a shame” his colleague was resigning.

He added: “His resignation letter says it all - and his closing line: ’frankly, as a case study in business and management failure, you could not make it up’, really summarises the incredulity that those of us who are not used to the NHS way of doing things (or more accurately, not doing things) feel about the situation at Southern Health.”

Mr Bell said governor vacancies and his colleagues’ resignation - on top that of Mr Aspinall - threw into doubt whether the council of governors could continue to sit if it did not have enough members.

He added: ”Since there is a requirement that there is a majority of public governors present at all meetings of the council of governors for the meeting to be quorate and proceed to business, at this rate, there will no longer be a need for a council of governors as we will never get a quorate meeting!

“Not sure that I can really recommend that anyone should put themselves up for election based on some governors’ (including mine) experience to date.”

A spokeswoman for the trust confirmed Mr Green’s resignation, and said an election to replace him will be held “in due course”.

She added: ”We appreciate the personal views John has expressed in his resignation letter, and his comments will be shared with the wider board and council of governors.

”Following the extraordinary council of governors meeting that was adjourned earlier this year, the trust is currently supporting governors in the process of appointing legal representation to ensure that any resolutions put forward for consideration when the meeting reconvenes are legally sound.”

More to follow.