Statement on the preventable death of Connor Sparrowhawk #JusticeforLB

On July 4th 2013 18 year old Connor (known online as LB ‘Laughing Boy’) drowned in a bath whilst in the ‘care’ of a specialist NHS Assessment and Treatment Unit (ATU) run by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. Connor had Klinefelter Syndrome, which meant he had epilepsy and learning disabilities. Yesterday’s independent investigation report found that Connor’s death was preventable.

Connor had been in the ATU for 15 weeks. The average cost of a placement in an ATU is £3500 per week, or £182,000 per year. Connor’s stay cost approximately £52,000 in taxpayer’s funds. Despite the enormous sums of money involved the report reveals a catalogue of failings; there was no assessment made of Connor’s lifelong epilepsy, concerns raised by Connor’s mother were ignored, Connor’s epilepsy medication was not always available meaning his mother had to bring in supplies from home and a culture of ‘buck passing’ existed in the unit.

Connor entered the unit two years after the abuse of adults with learning disabilities was exposed at Winterbourne View. During that two years abuse and neglect of adults with learning disabilities have been uncovered in other centres.

At People First England we believe that all adults have the right to a safe, independent life, lived in a manner of their own choosing. The astronomical sums of money paid for places in ATU’s shows that this is not a problem of lack of overall funding, but a lack of care, dignity, choice and respect. If similar levels of funding were available for social care, adults would be able to remain living in the community with the support they need to live full lives.

Connor’s death was entirely preventable. We believe that sufficient lessons have not been learnt about the neglect of adults with learning disabilities in the post Winterbourne era. Connor was a beautiful young man with dark hair and an infectious laugh. He was a much loved ‘young dude’, a family member and friend. Like all young adults Connor expected to continue his education, his social and family life and eventually to leave his family home and live with the support he needed in his own home.

Connor will always be loved, missed and never forgotten. People First England will remain part of the campaign to gain #JusticeForLB and to fight for the support and care all adults need to live their lives as they choose.

You can see a video of Connor made by his family here.

You can read the account of Connor’s stay in the ATU on his mum’s blog A daft Life.

Please download the report from Southern Health here.