FAMILIES failed by an under-fire mental health trust have blasted the decision to keep chief executive Katrina Percy in post.

No-one will lose their job at Southern Health, despite months of pressure over its failure to investigate hundreds of deaths. An internal review which reported released yesterday found ‘no evidence of negligence or incompetence of any individual board member’.

Relatives of patients who suffered under the trust’s care have spoken of their ‘extreme shock’ and described the decision as ‘beyond belief’.

Health minister Alistair Burt pledged to discuss the trust's future with health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Interim chairman Tim Smart admitted that the organisation was ‘stretched’ and unveiled plans to transfer some services to other providers.

The decision has enraged the families of patients who died whilst under Southern Health’s care.

Investigations by the NHS and Care Quality Commission (CQC) found the trust was ‘continuing to put patients at risk’ and had failed in its handling of 450 of the 722 deaths in the trust over four years.

Justice for LB, the group representing relatives of 18-year-old Connor Sparrowhawk, said they were ‘incredulous’ at the decision.

Connor, who had epilepsy and autism, drowned unsupervised in a bathtub during a seizure in 2013.

Southern Health initially denied responsibility for the death but was forced to apologise earlier this month. An inquest found neglect contributed to Connor’s drowning.

A statement issued by families of patients who died under Southern Health said: “We are extremely shocked that those who have sat in judgement on this matter would allow Katrina Percy to continue in her role as chief executive. We believe it reflects badly on them and their judgement. It is beyond belief given the clear evidence available and a long succession of failures that have come to light.”

The statement added: “We have not given up and we are not going to go away. Instead we have been energised by this unjust decision to continue our fight for the people that now have no voice.”

Ms Percy’s role will shift from operations to strategy and parts of the trust outside Hampshire will be broken up.

Mark Aspinall, a trust governor who quit in April in protest at the board, said: “I’m dumbfounded, gobsmacked.

“That’s just not good enough. Who is responsible for the failure at that trust if it’s not the chief executive and the board?”

He added: “There is a failure of leadership, a failure of oversight and a total lack of heart and compassion. Calling it a trust is a lexicographic joke. There can be no trust in the trust.”

Announced his decision to families in Winchester yesterday morning, Mr Smart said the trust had been “stretched” and would relinquish some of its services. In a statement he said: “I would first like formally to extend my deepest apologies to the individuals and families who have been deeply affected by recent events. I can only imagine the pain they are suffering.

“I am confident that we are making progress, and I know that our staff are doing everything they can to deliver high quality care.”

He added: “I am satisfied that whilst the board should have acted in a more united way, I have found no evidence of negligence or incompetence of any individual board member.”