When is an advocate not an advocate?


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.

  1. The new advocate was no longer allowed to sit in on staff interviews.
  2. 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.

27 thoughts on “When is an advocate not an advocate?

  1. I feel sick, furious, tearful. It’s transparently obvious where the conflict of interest lies in an internal investigation before any of this. How do they sleep?

  2. Power means you get to beat people into submission and that’s what they are doing – they have taken control away from you and manipulating the whole situation…..never think your important to them you are not – whats important is that the NHS come out of this with as little adverse publicity as possible… Politics – corruption and betrayal……. your power is in the pen…….
    Solidarity Sister…..

  3. That is – unspeakable. Is there anyone who can contact your MP for you, that’s the only thing I can suggest. Unbelievably awful that you have to keep fighting and fighting in such an appalling situation.

  4. Jeeeze what a load of bollocks on their part, don’t let them get away with it, threaten them with the Court of Human Rights x

  5. This is just dreadful, they are clearly aware that you are an educated person and are trying their best to beat you down emotionally, so they can cover their sorry ass as much as possible. I wish I had contacts in the “know” that I could contact for you but sadly I do not. I hope you can figure out a way forward.

  6. How unspeakably corrupt and criminal. Is this one for the Press, Sara? I just wish I knew the answer and I hope you find someone to help x

  7. I am appalled by this and how can it possibly be right to have an internal enquiry??? Is there any way to appeal against that, before even thinking about appealing against them changing their minds on you choosing an advocate and trying to frantically cover the fact they have completely chickened out of being transparent?

  8. I don’t think any advocate should inhibit the staff from telling the truth. If that’s the case they should be in a proper court and under oath.

    Also I may be wrong but it looks like the conflict of interest – although I cant see it personally- would be in their favour? Because there is a tenuous imaginary link back to the trust which is conducting the enquiry – So surely it should be up to you the family as to whether you would continue with that advocate?

    Was it ever explained to you that you would only get one chance of a choice?

    And if you are told nothing during the course of the procedure how would you ever get a chance to correct mis-information?

    You need some help to fight this. I don’t know where from -but you need an expert in this field.

    • Absolutely right – if there is a conflict of interest (doubtful) it would work in their favour. Sara – how can we help fight this? If we all started writing to our MPs and the CQC and anyone else who will (or won’t) listen would it help? Say the word and we are ready to act.

  9. Thank you for the supportive comments which make a difference (in a way I wouldn’t have imagined before this). We’ve got a rock solid legal team behind (and in front) of us. This kind of makes our experience all the more shocking, but also shrieks questions about those who can’t access such support. The system stinks. It is simply unacceptable.

  10. You know, I don’t think the English language contains terms bad enough to describe the awfulness of this latest development – but – holy fuckamoly. The stink-to-high-heaven shits. How very fucking DARE they? Conflict of interest, my arse!

      • Wow.

        I think that may just be the most gratifying response I’ve *ever* had to anything I’ve written. Honoured to have been instrumental in introducing a smile – however fleeting – to your day.

        And delighted to see that reason (perhaps backed up by a goodly dose of the swearies?) has prevailed.

  11. I found you via a tweet and I’ve read this post and then started reading backwards. I’m back here now to say I’m with you somehow. This conflict-of-interest story is painful b.s. after all you’ve gone through. Stay strong.

  12. I’m completely dumbfounded by this. It’s just unbelievable. I’m so glad you have a good legal team who can actually do something – I feel completely helpless so please tell me and all of us if there is anything we can be doing to help.

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