A 'cancelled' meeting of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust governors is currently being held as planned as bereaved families called the current situation a "shambles".

At least four rebel governors have arrived at Lyndhurst Community Centre, Hampshire, for a crunch meeting to demand improvements at the organisation.

It comes after a Care Quality Commission report in April warned that Southern Health was not doing enough to ensure patient safety at its care units across the South East, following last December's Mazars report, which revealed that 722 people died unexpectedly under its care over four years. Only a minority were investigated.

Relatives of Oxford teenager Connor Sparrowhawk, who died at Southern Health's Slade House unit in Headington in 2013, are present along with campaigners calling for justice and accountability at the trust.

Three days ago Southern Health officially pulled the plug on the meeting, saying some of the proposals “do not comply” with NHS Improvement guidance and votes “would not be legally robust”.

Just one governor, Peter Bell, had arrived at the splinter meeting by the start time of 11.45am. Mr Bell has proposed a vote of no confidence in the leadership, including chief executive Katrina Percy.

Governors Arthur Monks, John Green and Richard Mandunya joined shortly after following a meeting with new chairman Tim Smart at 9am today.

The funds to keep the room at Lyndhurst were raised through crowdfunding online, with more than £400 raised online for the booking and refreshments from the public.

Mr Bell said: “We have raised the funds to book the meeting ourselves and if seven governors arrive it will be a quorum. We want to meet the public and talk to them and learn from them. I want an open debate for the right people at the right time and right place. We need a dialogue.”

He praised the crowdfunding efforts to keep the Lyndhurst venue as “spectacular” and added: “It just shows there is a lot of support for what we are trying to do. Let’s discuss things in public and improve the NHS.”

Southern Health is one of the country’s largest mental health trusts, caring for people with mental health problems and learning difficulties covering Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

It provides services for 45,000 people and employs 9,000 staff at around 200 sites.

Richard West, whose son died while in the care of Southern Health, said: “What is going on is a shambles. It is chaos and it shouldn’t be like this. Everybody feels frustrated. The relatives have been waiting patiently and the governors now feel frustrated and let down by the system.

"It’s an indictment of the system of the NHS. People feel like they are not being heard and they want to do something."

He branded the trust “a public safety issue” and said: “There is something horrendously wrong at Southern Health.

"If people have mental health or learning difficulties they are going to be cared for by Southern Health, and it needs to change.”

But he said Mr Smart needs time to turn things around, adding: “It needs people to come together, the council of governors, patients and relatives so he can understand.”

A spokesman for Southern Health declined to comment on the meeting.