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    Police Investigate Abusive Message Sent To Mum Of Teenager Who Died In Care

    Dr Sara Hartley, the mother of Connor Sparrowhawk, who died at a Southern Health NHS trust centre, was called a "vindictive cow" by an anonymous caller who claimed to work for the trust.

    BBC
    Justice for LB

    Police are investigating an abusive voicemail message sent to a mother whose teenage son died at a Southern Health NHS trust facility.

    Dr Sara Ryan, the mother of Connor Sparrowhawk, who drowned in the bath at Slade House, Oxfordshire, in 2014, was called a "vindictive cow" who was seeking attention. The anonymous caller claimed to worked for Southern Health although this hasn't yet been confirmed, pending an investigation.

    Ryan has been leading a campaign calling for action to be taken against the management of Southern Heath.

    The message said:

    Good morning, hello, hi, this is a message for Dr Sara Ryan, um I’ve been seeing on the media about your son, your poor son who died in the care of Southern Health. I work for Southern Health and I feel awful that you lost him, I’m so sorry that you have done, it’s tragic, and, I hope you find some closure after the report, the issue of the GM… urgh CQC report today, but I do think you are being very vindictive. I think you are a vindictive cow.

    On TV all the time, ummm, slating the NHS Southern Health. With your intelligent background, you know, as much as much as anyone else knows, that Southern Health only took over those units in Oxfordshire recent, you know the recent months before your son died.

    You know, with your background, it takes a while to make changes in anywhere, and I think now you’ve just become a [inaudible] and you want some attention, but you are vindictive and you are unpleasant, and you are a nasty cow.

    The message was left on Ryan's work phone the same day a damning Care Quality Commission (CQC) report raised concerns about patient safety at Southern Health. The trust's chairman and a trustee resigned as the report was released, as the trust said it would address the CQC's concerns.

    Sparrowhawk, who was epileptic and autistic, died while he was unattended in the bath. The CQC report said the trust only implemented a new policy on bathing and showering epileptic people in February this year.

    Thames Valley police said in a statement: "As a result of a pre-planned meeting with Dr Ryan, Thames Valley Police was made aware of a malicious telephone message made to her on 29 April.

    "This has now been recorded as a report of a malicious communication and is currently under investigation."

    Ryan wrote on her blog: "My blood chilled, 20 seconds or so into the message left on my phone at work, when the caller seamlessly tipped from being sorry that LB died to calling me a vindictive cow. And didn’t hold back from sticking the boot in.

    "The call is vitriolic, nasty and beyond inappropriate. But it’s simply part of a set of improbably, inappropriate, nasty and worse responses we’ve endured since LB died. Evidence of a system in which defensiveness, bullying and family crushing flourishes."

    LB is short for "Laughing Boy", a nickname for Connor. A campaign site calling for action to be taken against Southern, including a corporate manslaughter charge, is called Justice for LB.

    Luciana Berger, Labour's shadow mental health minister, tabled an urgent question in the House of Commons on Wednesday in which she raised the death of Sparrowhawk and called on the government to act.

    Berger said the position of Southern's CEO, Katrina Percy, was now "untenable" and called for her to be fired.

    A spokesperson for Southern Health said: "We have been made aware of the phone message through social media, and the content is deeply concerning. The trust cannot condone such behaviour and we take matters like this extremely seriously.

    "We urge anyone with any information to get in contact with us so a full internal investigation can take place."


    Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Patrick Smith at patrick.smith@buzzfeed.com.

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