England’s largest community and mental health provider will be prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive following the death of a patient.

Southern Health Foundation Trust faces legal action after 18-year-old Connor Sparrowhawk drowned in a bath following an epileptic fit while he was in the care of the trust.

Mr Sparrowhawk died in July 2013 and the trust admitted responsibility for his death in 2016.

The HSE said: “The HSE is prosecuting Southern Health Foundation Trust under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 following its investigation into the death of a patient under its care, Connor Sparrowhawk.”

In the last five years the HSE has carried out four prosecutions against NHS trusts that resulted in successful convictions, according to its website. All four prosecutions were brought against the trusts after patients died.

Southern Health’s former chief executive Katrina Percy resigned from her position in August last year, eight months after the publication of a report by the audit firm Mazars that highlighted failures at the trust to investigate and learn from patient deaths.

Four non-executive directors departed earlier this year.

By law, registered providers of health and social care services – including NHS trusts – must take all reasonable steps and exercise all due diligence to ensure patients receive safe care and treatment.

Southern Health is also facing prosecution from the Care Quality Commission after another patient sustained serious injuries following a fall from a low roof at Melbury Lodge, Royal Hampshire Hospital.

This prosecution will be carried out under regulations 12(1) and 22 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (regulated activities regulations 2014).

Regulation 12 relates to preventing people from receiving unsafe care and treatment and preventing avoidable harm or risk of harm.

Julie Dawes, interim chief executive of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Connor’s death while in our care could have been prevented and we would like to once again offer our unreserved apologies to his family. 

”Since 2013 significant improvements have been made and the organisation continues to do everything it can to improve the quality and safety of services. 

“The Trust is unable to comment further at this time.”

The other trusts that have been prosecuted by HSE and convicted in the last five years are:

  • Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (October 2014);
  • Pennine Care Foundation Trust (September 2013);
  • Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust (March 2011); and
  • Royal United Hospitals Bath Trust (November 2012).