Families of patients with mental illnesses and learning difficulties today challenged heads of a health trust criticised for failing to investigate the deaths of more than 1,000 people.

Relatives and health campaigners demanded answers from bosses at heated governors meeting of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Trust governors argued that they had learned lessons - in what is the first public meeting since the publication of a scathing independent report uncovering "serious failings" in how the trust failed to investigate the deaths of people with mental health and learning difficulties.

But chief executive Katrina Percy refused to answer questions calling for her resignation while speaking briefly at the meeting.

Now relatives say the trust must do more to overhaul the whole system to families having to suffer in the same way again - criticising the governors for failing to properly challenge their leaders.

The Extraordinary Council of Governors meeting held at Tatchbury Mount in Calmore got off to an angry start when some governors objected to calls from Southampton councillor Andrew Pope for the meeting being recorded by the press and public.

But the meeting eventually voted to allow proceedings being filmed after a 25 minute debate which culminated in one governor walking out and another attending by a telephone conference call hanging up in protest.

The trust's chief operating officer and director for performance and safety, Dr Chris Gordon told the meeting that the trust accepted findings of the NHS England Report carried out by auditors Mazars.

He said previous investigations were "too slow " but that a raft of improvements have been since made including recording deaths of patients with both mental health and learning disabilities dying while inpatients in their care and after 12 months of discharge.

He told the meeting: "We apologise again for the shortcomings of the trust. Our current policies are much more stringent."

Ms Percy told the meeting she had attended a recent Risk Summit which included how health organisation Monitor looks into deaths.

But public governor John Green hit out at the Department of Health saying that a culture of management and inspections meant the whole system was run like a "totalitarian state" which restricted the quality of frontline care adding: "there needs to be a change in the way the NHS is managed."

But when the public challenged the governors to ask whether Ms Percy should resign there was silence.

Ms Percy also refused to answer calls for her to step down adding: "I've answered all of the questions people have asked of me."

Governors were also unable to fully answer a number of questions from the public offering to to provide full answers at a later date.

This included Richard West from Park Gate who says the trust failed to properly investigate the death of his son David who died aged 28 following a long history of mental health problems.

Telling the meeting he had to repeatedly write to the trust in 2014 for answers he said: "patients and relatives have got a very different look at Southern Health than what you have portrayed."

Trust chairman Mike Petter said he would "have to check" records from two years ago.

Afterwards Richard West,60, told the Echo: "I came here to listen to what the Council of Governors would ask to hold them to account over what they did and what they haven't done. But I wasn't very impressed.

He added: "I think they could have done more. But I think it's symptomatic of how they treat the governors there."

Cllr Pope also criticised communication between the governors and leaders and added afterwards: "It's quite clear the board were kept in the dark and were unaware of the problems."

Southern Health runs hospitals across Hampshire including Melbury Lodge in Winchester.

The Mazars investigation looked into all deaths at the trust between April 2011 and March 2015.

In total 10,306 people had died - including 1,454 unexpected deaths.

The research reveals 272 were treated as critical incidents, of which just 195 - 13 per cent - were treated by the trust as a serious incident requiring investigation.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has since ordered a three -point plan which he said would rectify problems in the NHS.