Since LB died, quite a few journalists have contacted us. We’ve referred em to our solicitor, Charlotte, and kept our heads down. Charlotte spoke on our behalf a couple of times on ‘You and Yours’ on Radio 4. This felt like luxury. She was calm, confident and informed. With the report due to be published we knew we couldn’t continue to avoid some sort of media engagement. Not if we want action.
‘You and Yours’ asked us to be interviewed about LB and
STATT (redacted) this week. Pre-recorded. The Chief Exec of Sloven was allegedly going to be live in the studio. Ok, we thought. Gotta be done.
It turned out Rich couldn’t do the allotted time as he was teaching. So I went to BBC Oxford yesterday afternoon. Dreading it. I’m happy to teach, give papers at conferences but talking on national radio about LB’s death? Eurgh. Serena, a cheerful and sensitive, broadcast journalist (first one I’ve met) (broadcast journalist that is), took me to a small, windowless room on the third floor (or 2nd floor), talked me through what would happen and left. I sat with a set of headphones on. And started answering questions from Winifred, in Salford. (Bit familiar to call her Winifred but it was a bizarre situ).
Awkward, uncomfortable and kind of excruciating. When it was over (about 20 mins) I sat there. Not knowing if I was supposed to press a button to hang up. There wasn’t a phone or anything. ‘Eurgh,’ I thought.
Serena pitched up and took me to the ground floor for a cheeky BBC Radio Oxford interview. We agreed if it was crap she’d bin it. She’d read the report, been part of the social media wait-athon on Monday before the report was published and obviously understood the key issues. She asked an unscripted set of searching questions. Much easier.
This morning we listened to Phil Gayle give the Sloven Medical Director a bit of a hammering (around 1 hr 7 mins, available for a week). When he said, in relation to the CQC inspection in November, ‘… and it’s staggering to those of us outside that a young man can die in a hospital, in a medical unit, and no improvements be made. She [his mum] said to us how could this happen and how could his death not be a flag that something was wrong?’… we kind of cheered and made a note to sign up to the Phil Gayle fan club.
Lunchtime it was ‘You and Yours’. My interview first. Halfway through the programme. A few minutes of eurgh. Then Winifred.
“We invited the Southern Health Trust to come on the programme. They didn’t want to. They sent us a statement…”
Quite by accident I was listening to BBC Radio Oxford this morning on my way to work. I had to listen to it all which made me late for work. At last people are getting the message. I think of you often and wish you all the best, not the most appropiate words but I can’t think of any in these circumstances.
Best wishes to you and your family
Thanks Gill, there aren’t any appropriate words. But any do, so thank you,
Your final word is very apt…
It often is..
I’ve been following your blog & on Twitter. I’ve wanted to send you a message many times, but was scared that what I’d put would sound ridiculous or crass. My daughter is 19 and has the same diagnosis as LB – autism, learning difficulties & epilepsy. Just wanted to say you have all been in my thoughts & will continue to be. You were totally correct in your comments on how we treat those with learning difficulties in the country & it needs to change. I don’t know where you find the strength from, but more power to you.
Love to you all
Aww..thanks. One thing I’ve learned from this is that there are no ridiculous, crass or whatever words. Here’s hoping for change,
You were brilliant on You and Yours. Stunning combination of calm, rational and passionate. Made me cry. Love to you, Richard and your children x
I listened to you today and thought you were utterly amazing, your courage and love for your son shine through in your voice. I want to thank you , as the mother of two asd young people, I want you to know that you are making a difference in our children’s lives. Your courage and fight to get justice for your son is having a rippling effect on others. Much love to you all. xx
Will scoop that praise up Polly, thanks 😉 Seems to be a chunk of people in support which is fab. Here’s hoping it leads to change. xxx
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The only upside is that the minute we hear those phrases like ‘declined to be interviewed’ or ‘no-one was available for comment’ we know they are scared. It’s as good as holding up a big sign saying ‘guilty’.
Yep. So true…
Such a hard thing for you to do, amazing Sara. It’s good that you are getting some national coverage now, and bringing awareness to other parents and families. Awareness to trust no one, assume nothing and question everything. It shouldn’t be so, we don’t expect to have to doubt competence in professionals, we expect carers to care and management to – Manage? Love Jenny xx
Thanks Jenny. So agree. We’ve got quite a team of people all working in their own ways now which is amazing. All welcome. The collective outrage and commitment to change is heartening. xxx
I too have followed this on Twitter & have never really known what to say: anything I think of seems trite. But I do want to say thank you. Thank you for sharing LB with us, and for allowing us to know what a cool dude he was, and what a horrific end to your son. A life cut so short by an inability of others to do what just seems like common sense and treating him the way we would all want a family member or friend to be treated. To be kept safe and to be supported in any way that made him shine – that’s not too much to ask, surely? I’m following how this unfolds and hope you all have the strength to get through this awful time. Thank you again for sharing LB with us.
Thank you. He was a cool dude. x
Its a shame that the CEO did not have the decency to come into the studio and to speak with you direct. The way you have been treated is abhorrent. I’m so sorry for your loss and have been following what has happened for you over the past year. What resonated for me from the report related to what we are experiencing through having a family member locked up incommunicado, not being involved whilst decisions are being made behind closed doors. Yet Mental Health Professionals know best don’t they.
I did see on twitter someone question whether the Health & Safety Executive was involved.
After reading the site (http://www.hse.gov.uk/corpmanslaughter/about.htm) & comparing it to the report it looks like corporate manslaughter to me. Perhaps your solicitor might help them along the way to see if a corporate manslaughter charge could be brought. It may help bring the CEO out. Its disgraceful that their services are still failing CQC inspections (and lets face it the CQC are not rigorous as Winterbourne got past them!). This shows how bad things must be. IF she won a leadership award, I would like to see her take the stand for her organisation in front of a court. At least other services would take note. No longer can our friends and families, detained in places like this be neglected.
best wishes to you and your family
Completely agree with you. Yes, the system is awful and families kept at arms length despite Winterbourne View. Hope you manage to get somewhere. Distressing, agonising and inhumane for everyone involved (apart from providers/commissioners/social care, etc it seems).
I discovered your story listening to a repeat of You and Yours on the journey home having dropped my daughter off at an enclosed ward following home leave. When I got home the first thing I did was to catch up on your blog.
I just want to say what an amazing person you are to keep going when your loss is so new and painful. LB should have had a future , a rewarding life and his death at such a young age seems to be so cruelly dismissed.
He was a lovely looking guy and your family pics bring a lump to my throat.
There is so little aspiration for young people out of the mainstream to expect a meaningful life or a future . You have created a connection for other parents of young people shut away from society, I feel less alone.
I am going to join twitter just to support your campaign.
Awww… thanks Liz. Sadly there’s quite a few parents around in this situation. Hope you enjoy twitter. xxx
The interview with the Medical Director was…well, not sure I can find a word for it! At one stage she seemed to be saying that it took them a long time to figure out that leaving Connor unsupervised for 15 minutes was not a great idea. She also seemed to imply that if things had been discussed and documented properly, then HER problems in covering up the appalling care would have been considerably reduced.
Still don’t get it, do they?
Most parents would be too overwhelmed by grief to do what you are doing, Sara, which is what makes it so admirable. Harrowing for you, but so brave and necessary. Hope it brings a crumb of comfort to know that others now also care greatly about what happened to Connor.
It was shambolic, wasn’t it. They are like a golden example of how not to behave after such an unimaginable happening. It makes quite a difference to know how many people care about what happened and are prepared to stand up and say it. xx