A healthcare trust which was criticised after Oxford teen Connor Sparrowhawk died in its care has been told it must improve in order to protect patients.

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust was given a warning notice by watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after inspectors visited it in January.

The inspection followed a report at the end of last year which revealed 722 people died unexpectedly during or after the care of the trust over a four year period.

Today's warning notice said the trust must improve its governance arrangements to ensure robust investigation and learning from incidents and deaths in order to reduce future risks to patients.

Inspectors found the trust had failed to mitigate against significant risks posed by some of the physical environments from which it delivered mental health and learning disability services.

It also was found not to operate effective arrangements to ensure robust investigation of incidents, including deaths.

Inspectors said the trust did not adequately ensure it learned from incidents and did not effective respond to concerns about safety raised by patients, their carers and staff.

It also did not respond to concerns raised by trust staff about their ability to carry out their roles effectively.

CQC deputy chief inspector of hospitals and lead for mental health Dr Paul Lelliott said: “It is only now, following our latest inspection, and in response to the warning notice, that the trust has taken action and has identified further action that it will take to improve safety at Kingsley ward, Melbury Lodge in Buckinghamshire and Evenlode in Oxfordshire.

"The Trust must also continue to make improvements to its governance arrangements for reporting, monitoring, investigating and learning from incidents and deaths.

"CQC will be monitoring this Trust very closely and will return to check on improvements and progress in the near future.”

The trust operates a number of services in Oxfordshire, including the Evenlode service at Littlemore Mental Health centre, which works with people with learning disabilities who have offended or are at risk of offending.

Trust chief executive Katrina Percy said: "I have been very clear and open that we have a lot of work to do to fully address recent concerns raised about the trust.

"Good progress has been made, however we accept that the CQC feels that in some areas we have not acted swiftly enough.

"My main priority is, and always has been, the safety of our patients.

"We take the CQC’s concerns extremely seriously and have taken a number of further actions.

"I want to reassure our patients and their families that I, and the Board, remain completely focused on tackling these concerns as quickly as possible."

Mr Sparrowhawk was 18 when he drowned in the bath at Slade House in Headington- managed by the trust- in July 2013 after having an epileptic fit.

The facility has since closed.