Family’s campaign to mark the life of tragic teenager

The Oxford Times: Connor’s mother Sara Ryan appeared as a guest on StingRadio Connor’s mother Sara Ryan appeared as a guest on StingRadio

ONE HUNDRED and seven days was how long Connor Sparrowhawk survived in an NHS mental health unit in Oxford.

Now his family has called on supporters to help them celebrate his life over 107 days and raise awareness of his plight. During the campaign, which started yesterday, they will also auction pictures drawn by Connor to pay for legal aid at his inquest.

They have already raised £8,272, and his inquest is expected to be held later this year.

The Oxford Times:

  • Connor Sparrowhawk

Connor, 18, who was autistic and had epilepsy, was admitted to Slade House mental health unit in Headington on March 19 last year.

He died after being found underwater in a bath there on July 4.

A post-mortem examination found he died from drowning, likely to have been caused by an epileptic fit.

But a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said the checks at 15-minute intervals on Mr Sparrowhawk during baths were not safe and a result of poor overall care.

The report said his death was preventable and criticised assessments and management of his needs.

Slade House – home to 15 adults – was shut in September, and it is still unclear when, or if, it will reopen.

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Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the unit, apologised at the time for its failings, but yesterday did not respond to a request for a comment.

Connor’s mother Sara Ryan, a senior researcher and autism specialist at Oxford University’s Nuffield department for primary care, is now campaigning for better rights for all disabled people.

Appearing on Oxford-based StingRadio station on Tuesday – which supports people with learning disabilities – she said: “We are trying to get the people responsible for Connor dying as he did to be brought to justice.

“We are trying to raise awareness of inpatient units.

“And we are trying to raise awareness about the lack of support for people with learning disabilities.”

No answers were received to these questions we put to Southern Health:

  • What disciplinary action, if any, has been taken regarding staff from Slade House?
  • Will Slade House reopen? If so, when?
  • How many of the original staff will take back their jobs?
  • What changes have been made at Slade House following the CQC report?

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