So here’s the gig. A couple of weeks ago, the NHS Trust let us know that an advocate (family member or otherwise) would be part of the investigation panel. Up to us who. This person would fully participate in the investigation, attending meetings, interviews and contributing to the final report.
Well. That’s something, we thought. An internal investigation still made our brains implode, but at least there would be a measure of transparency. A positive development. Always particularly welcome in extreme times. We asked Fran. Fran, who has a wealth of personal experience and is a trained advocate. One of the kindest people you could ever meet. She agreed (an enormous commitment on her part, both in time and emotion).
Yesterday it was all change. The Trust’s legal team had discovered a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest?
Hold on to your hats for a tenuous link worthy of an oscar; Fran does some voluntary charity work. The Chair of the charity used to be CEO for the Trust that used to run the unit.
I thought you might struggle with this so I’ve created a diagram (see Figure 1).
I hope this makes it clear. A conflict of interest worthy of ‘the dog ate my homework Miss’. A conflict of interest trumped up in such unspeakably awful circumstances.
So, before she’d even started, Fran was off the gig. The only person so far, in this tragically appalling tale, to lose her position. And two Trust employees (employees) sit securely on the panel.
That’s not all.
Because we’d had the gall to suggest an advocate with a conflict of interest, we’d lost our right to choose an advocate. We were to nominate an advocacy group and the Trust would select an appropriate advocate from this group.
That’s not all.
- The new advocate was no longer allowed to sit in on staff interviews.
- The new advocate was to sign a confidentiality agreement so we would be told nothing during the course of the investigation.
When is an advocate not an advocate? When they ain’t a fucking advocate. That’s when.
Off to cry again now.