A HAMPSHIRE NHS trust facing a huge financial penalty in the wake of two of its patient's deaths has warned that every pound it is fined is a pound taken out of mental health care.

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust has admitted breaching health and safety regulations following the deaths of Connor Sparrowhawk and Teresa Colvin from New Forest.

Connor, 18, was found dead on July 4, 2013 after drowning in a bathtub at Slade House, Oxford.

Mrs Colvin, 45, of Lyndhurst, was found slumped beside a communal telephone at the Woodhaven mental health complex in Calmore in April 2012 and later died.

As reported in the Daily Echo, her husband Roger Colvin says he cannot understand why Teresa was not monitored more regularly by staff.

At inquest into her death Southampton Coroner Keith Wiseman ruled that he could find no “systematic failure” in Mrs Colvin's care but said the risk posed by the telephone unit within the acute mental unit was “underestimated” and a subject of “proper criticism”.

As a two-day sentencing hearing continued at Oxford Crown Court Paul Spencer, defending, urged the court to show leniency because of the Trust's struggling finances.

He said: “A distance should be drawn between a trust that hasn’t learned a lesson, appears to be reluctant to recognise and accept its responsibility and its guilt and the position of this trust.

“It has been candid and it has been candid for a significant time.”

He added that "lessons had been learned" across the Trust since 2016 and more than 98 per cent of its staff now had epilepsy training in the wake of Connor Sparrowhawk's death.

He also warned that the Trust was already facing a budget deficit of around £1.69 million and that any fine would hit the service hard.

But Bernard Thorogood, prosecuting, maintains that the Trust had "systemic" failings.

Mr Justice Jeremy Stuart-Smith will deliver his sentence on Monday.