We’ll brief you over lunch: an exercise in candourless transparency

Dark days in the Justice Shed, our hope and optimism in Tim Smart, the Interim Chair at Southern Health has almost dissipated altogether. Yesterday he wrote to My Life My Choice appearing to blame the media for the Champ’s fears about their poor care. You can read the interaction, Shaun’s letter and Tim Smart’s response on the MLMC site here, this is part of it:

During our meeting you said that you have nightmares about drowning in a bath whilst in the care of Southern Health. I find that very distressing.

My comments about the Mazars Report don’t mean that it is not an important report or that Southern Health shouldn’t listen to its recommendations.

The Mazars report did not look at the quality of care that Southern Health provides.

But the way it has been reported in the news means some people are frightened to use our services.

I am concerned that the Mazers report has caused people to be frightened. I want to change that.

Screenshot 2016-06-20 17.22.14

Yes, that typo Mazers was included. One short letter, two spellings of Mazars. A small matter you may think, but one that ironically the Mazars report itself highlights, the non-attention to detail, the sloppiness and lack of care and regard for those who have died:

Screenshot 2016-06-20 17.32.01

Three different names in one report; multiple names for the deceased; Mazars Mazers, who cares?

More to the point, where has this media blaming narrative come from? Those of us who have an unhealthy familiarity with Southern Health Board Minutes will know that Katrina Percy and her Executive Team have always put a lot of weight on the media mood. Pre-JusticeforLB each month featured some wonderful reference to media coverage about how great they were, a positive news story, or a narrative that they had presented in the local, national or trade press. They couldn’t get enough of it.

Now all of a sudden, the media have started reporting a different mood, sharing the narratives of those who are less happy, as well as the carefully arranged and set up Southern patient prefects. The media have refused to be controlled and manipulated. Despite the relentless efforts to manage the message, the truth has found its way out.

Just this last week a few of the steadfast, behind the scenes, secretly wonderful JusticeforLB’ers have been subjecting their ears to pain in the Justice Shed (huge respect to Liz and Agent T especially). They have been listening to the Southern Health recordings that we stumbled across on SoundCloud. We were promised that the audio recording of the January Extraordinary Board Meeting would be publicly available, and it never has been until 18 days ago. We wait to see if this account is locked down in due course, but for now, feel free to go listen. What you’ll find, especially if you compare and contrast the recordings with the publicly available minutes, is the real sense of delusion at Sloven Towers.

It appears that the message being shared, repeatedly and relentlessly there, is that the media have got it wrong. We’re still stuck in Mazars denial – as Tim Smart’s letter so clearly shows. Nothing exemplifies this more than the end of the March Board Meeting, you can fast forward and listen to the last two minutes here (3hrs 16mins in):

*NB Listen from 3hrs 10mins to hear the discussion about the Freedom to Speak Up Guardians and their applicability to Sloven Health – KP comes out with some awful nonsense about whistleblowers at 3hrs 13mins where she complains people whistleblow to external organisations without escalating things internally first – can’t imagine why. 

The last two minutes of this meeting is given to a question from the public, this opportunity is taken by John Beaumont, Southern Health’s governor for South West Hampshire. His contribution is as follows:

JB: I’ve been, I’m not sure if this is the correct time to raise this, but there has been a television programme in partial response to our media statements, urgh, is this the correct time to discuss this?

Chair: Sorry I’m presuming this was the press coverage we got on Thursday, was it Thursday last week? We are supposed to also get some written press coverage over the weekend I think.

JB: The Manchester Guardian, or the Guardian now as it is now I think [has been since 1959, nothing like being current, no nothing like it] that article is next week [this one]

Chair: Ah, ok

[Discussion continues about previous week’s local and national coverage, KP chips in with an inaudible comment, we think linking it to Monitor issuing a statement – which would have been about their ongoing failings? John is asked whether he just wanted to raise it as an item or make an observation about it…]

JB: Well I thought it was somewhat confusing because there were two people, who apparently got themselves into, shall we say hot water, they went bathing, and one of them was Sparrowhawk, where apparently the inquest has now said there was umm a lack of care, or neglect, or, ummm, the other person I gather was called Henry, I couldn’t find out what his correct name was, and he urgh also at the inquest found there was no fault whatsoever

Chair: Lesley can probably very briefly give us an update on that John, probably as it’s a very specific case John as that’s about bringing you up to speed about what’s gone before; can we get Lesley to brief you over lunch because there are some specifics around those to bring you up to date.

JB: Well it was confusing for the public

Chair: That point is well made, although we obviously know a lot about the story, there’s a lot of people coming to it first time.

Wow, where to go with this. Some immediate thoughts:

1) This is not ‘a story’, it is not about the media soundbyte, it is about people who died preventable deaths, years too early. It is about bereaved and destroyed families. It is about the media, your friend when you can control them, upholding the principles of honesty and integrity (key for your staff and governors apparently) better than you yourselves.

2) Sara wrote all the governors a letter on 2nd January this year, almost four months before this meeting. If John Beaumont had bothered to read it, he’d have known about both deaths.

3) How can a governor refer to inquest findings, legal findings, as ‘apparently’?

4) Why are all governors, and all staff for that matter, not completely aware that LB’s death was due to neglect, not some small accidental slight of hand, catastrophic failings with devastating consequences.

5) Day 8 at LB’s inquest started like this:

How can this conversation still be happening at Southern Health? How can there still be such denial? How can anyone die due to a seizure, in the same bath, seven years before LB and no-one remember until Day 8 of his inquest?

The death was deemed natural. Cause of death 1a) convulsion with asphyxiation due to 1b) malnutrition and a contributing cause 2) depression

How is this ever a natural cause of death? Who would deem such a thing?

A patient, under Sloven’s predecessor’s care, had a fit in a bath, died due to a lack of oxygen, while also malnourished and depressed. LB died due to Slovenly non-care [the full admission on the front page of their website is here].

Ten years later their Governors are talking about alleged failings and the media confusing the public, and the Chair is blaming Mazars for misleading the public.

When will they wake up?

One response to “We’ll brief you over lunch: an exercise in candourless transparency”

  1. There are none so blind as they that will not see.

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