891 days and Sooty tear time

It has taken 891 days to receive a genuine, heartfelt response from a senior level Sloven/Oxfordshire County Council related bod. 891 days..

Serious Sooty tear time.

Dear Dr Ryan

Thank you for sending me a letter to the SHFT Council of Governors about the Mazars review of deaths.The letter has been circulated to all Governors.

I am happy to ensure that the points you make in the letter are shared at the meeting tomorrow but may not be able to provide an immediate response.

On a personal note, I would like to say how sorry I am about Connor’s death. I would be doing exactly what you are doing had he been my son.


Helen Keats


Thank you, Helen Keats.

25 thoughts on “891 days and Sooty tear time

  1. Wow. If only those words had come straight away. Thank you, Helen Keats, for showing humanity.
    I wish I could hug you Sara. This has made me cry for you all over again.

  2. Dear Sara, I am beyond amazed at your graciousness. You are a truly remarkable woman. I have been following your story on ‘mydaftlife’ for a little while now but I have always resisted commenting. The ‘like’ button never seems appropriate and in all other respects I simply have nothing useful to add to the conversation. I love seeing your photographs of Connor. His gentle face is etched on my brain. You must already know how many people your family’s story touches. I am the mother of a much younger boy who faces challenges beyond his years, I feel. Challenges which originate outside of himself in a society and system that doesn’t try hard enough to accommodate and accept difference or admit accountability for its failings. Your fight for justice (I don’t know that justice can be done but I’m struggling to find the right words to say what I mean) will potentially have long term positive effects for so many people. Thank you. Sending you love and light. Kerry Xx

  3. Truly Wonderful.

    I only hope that timidity or even displaced group ‘loyalty’ does not marginalise this refreshing statement of integrity, human compassion and honesty .

  4. always happy to read a response that says thank you for your communication and I will ensure I do my job now by passing on your concerns, truly pleased that the old chestnut of ” as a parent myself ” wasn’t dusted off. Humanity wins every time, well written Helen Keats.

  5. Re: today’s meeting of the Council of Governors. If the meeting achieved anything, the Governors went away shocked at the extent to which they have been kept in the dark by the Board. The Governors agreed to the whole meeting being recorded in sound and in vision. Two television crews recorded the meeting and Michael Buchanan of the BBC was present throughout. The press and public were allowed to ask questions without limits being imposed. There were three disappointments:
    1. Two governors chickened out and left when the others voted to record the meeting. Surprisingly this included Helen Keats, even though she was present only by telephone link.
    2. There appears to be no inclination to hold to account those responsible for the 4-year failure of leadership, identified unequivocally by Mazars, or even to carry out disciplinary inquiries into their conduct.
    3. It was evident that the non-executive directors had been asleep on the job – or (in fairness) kept in the dark too.
    Sara – if you require further feedback, you are welcome to call me.

    • Crash, if the NEDs were in the dark, it was at least partly because they were supinely prepared to allow gobbledegook wool to be pulled over their eyes on a regular basis.

      They accepted vague, generic replies from EDs to specific questions; they didn’t challenge the EDs’ jargon and meaningless management-waffle; when things went wrong, they accepted assurances of ‘improvements made’ without asking: what improvements, how will we know they are having the desired effect, when will we be reviewing this again, and where else might we need to check to be sure we don’t have the same problems in other places. It’s all in the minutes.

      The NEDs were the fawning courtiers to the Empress Katrina and they are now twigging that the entire Board is bare-arsed in the wind of suspicious-smelling guff that has been blowing for far too long from their Southern regions.

      • KP won the big award. She believes she is the Leader of NHS Leaders. NEDS forgiven for group confusion, set by her delusion and certainty. NEDS in my experience a motley crew. The capable, sadly, too often modified by the rest. Others are just ever so pleased to be picked. To be the sole ‘seeing’ NED (‘king IS naked’) in the Board, does not get you a second term. Keep your counsel and you keep role. All NEDS can be neutered by a power potty CE and apostles.
        Speaking up is seen as disloyalty or ridiculed as inexperience. NHS culture really really good at destroying through ridicule. Huge in house status and choccy biccy perks to being a NHS NED. Some ED’s have very little respect for any NED, far less one cheeky enough to appraise, ED performance. Chairman can become an ED chum. And Governors are mainly good caring people too soon controlled ; ‘speak up’ and be sidelined. Excommunicated.

        NHS Governance process, does not do what it says on the tin.


        • Trudy, I believe KP said certain things yesterday that she might come to regret. If I heard correctly, she announced as a ‘new’ policy (following a ‘learning opportunity’) that should have been in place in or shortly after 2009. It is for good reason that she is also known as the Tony Blair of the NHS.
          This is why we must push for the full transcript of the meeting to be published. It is dangerous to make comments about a recorded meeting without awaiting the transcript – it’s too easy for those in control to ‘edit’ a transcript.

  6. Oh what happened to Helen? I imagine she was thoroughly frustrated with the meeting. So much riding now on the extraordinary Board meeting. The wider public need to be part of the learning from the Mazars report, what was the outcome of the analysis of the two deaths of inpatients announced at the Board meeting 28.7.15 ? are procedures and protocols now being followed consistently ? Is everyone in safe hands.

    • Helen cannot have been frustrated with the meeting. She cut of the phone link before it even started – or to be absolutely precise at the very start – as soon as the Governors voted to allow the meeting to be recorded. Her reasoning was perverse. In my opinion it was a cowardly, unhelpful act that totally negated the goodwill arising from her kind note to Sara. If I can confirm the name of the other chicken who walked, I will publish his name too.

      • This is a wonderful opportunity for SHFT NEDS to take hold of the power and authority that they/you have from us. An Opportunity to start doing the job in the way I believe most have wanted to do for a very long time. Being forced to bend your integrity hurts us too? The facts are all before you now.
        Only you can turn this failed Trust around.
        Come on NEDS, please stand up and be counted for our beloved, so very vulnerable sons and daughters; who so easily could have been yours.

      • well then it is going to be the public and staff that bang the drum. I know they ran an exercise post the Francis report. If you were Chief Exec for a day, what three things would you do at Southern Health in response to the report ? Maybe they re ran that post Mazars ?

        • Nic
          To be pedantic, if I were CEO for a day, the first step I would take would be to resign without expecting compensation. However, if I were Chairman for a day, your question is easier to answer:
          1. Suspend Katrina Percy, Dr Lesley Stevens and Cathy Lakin (Complaints Manager – for co-operating rather than ‘blowing the whistle’) pending a full disciplinary inquiry.
          2. Proactively invite the police to investigate certain aspects of the Trust’s conduct.
          3. Commission Mazars (sorry more public money) to carry out a forensic investigation into
          deaths and near-misses at Sloven’s hospitals for the physically unwell; near-misses in Sloven’s mental health units and the totally ineffectual complaints process(amongst other things.)
          I would have taken these steps as soon as I had become aware of the draft Mazars review.

  7. Not my question CRASH, the question was genuinely asked of Southern Health staff in 2013 in response to the Francis report. CEO for the day, three responses .Everything coming out of Southern Health after the Mazars report translates as a collective shrug of the shoulders, I hoped staff would be vocal at least. There are no voices.

    • That sounds like an invitation to take part in a Thousand Flowers exercise. Did Empress Katrina study Chinese geography and get a smattering of political history along with it, I wonder? And two years on, have the staff whose elicited answers were of the tall-poppy variety been weeded out? Perhaps that explains all those Sloven Change Day placards etc. had such meaningless nonsense on them – the only staff left were the craven, the sycophantic and the genuinely hard of understanding.

  8. IF?
    KP is ‘a poster girl for Peter’s Principle’ reasonable chance she needs reassurance from sycophants. And a fair smattering of same on the rungs all down the ladder. It is hell being managed by a misguided ‘have learned it all’ ‘know it all. There will still be very good capable people who really care, and fear worse happening if they go,but who have grown weary and exhausted trying to get any one still with a grip on reality to stop and listen to them? They just keep their head down and do their best, suffering and seeing what is happening, having tried to change things and suffered the consequences.

    And as well known examples have shown, blow the whistle and you don’t work in NHS again? Then, what will we and our sons and daughters do when all the good ones have left .?
    Does not bear thinking about?

  9. Pingback: Chairs, ships and learning journeys | mydaftlife

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