I keep meaning to write something about the money Sloven spent on legal representation to defend their reputation during LB’s inquest. My Life My Choice received this information from the Sloven Board Chair earlier this week. £300,000 apparently. £300,000. And we are to blame. Yep.
But as always a new bit of Sloven crap is always around the corner. Tonight this included a reply to my painstakingly written letter (emphasis on the pain) to the Council of Governors (which is chaired by the Board Chair) from the Board Chair. [I know]. Here it is, with my thoughts in bold.
Dear Dr Ryan and Mr Huggins
Thank you for providing me with a copy of your letter to the Council of Governors of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. Firstly can I take this opportunity on behalf of the Board, Council of Governors and the Trust as a whole to unreservedly apologise for the actions that caused the death of your son, Connor, and the hurt that you have been put through since that time.
It’s worth returning to Ally Roger’s superb undergrad dissertation here. Ally talks about passive sentences which are constructed to show no one is responsible. She says such manipulations of participant responsibility may or may not be deliberate. ‘The actions’ and ‘the hurt that you have been put through’ used here suggest that the Board Chair ain’t really taking ownership of the flourishing apology he offers.
Connor’s death was preventable and this is accepted by the Trust and we are truly sorry that he died.
I’m dunno why we keep hearing this ‘accepted by the Trust’ line. A more heartfelt ‘We know LB’s death was preventable and happened because we failed to look after him properly. We take full responsibility for his death’ is more appropriate. Where does ‘accept’ come from? It’s so grudging, particularly when it was bleedingly obvious from the second it happened that LB should never have died [Howl]. Such peculiar and upsetting phrasing. I don’t doubt the truly sorry bit here which is owned of course. They must rue the day really given everything that’s unfolded.
In your letter you refer to the Mazars ‘review of deaths of people with a Learning Disability or Mental Health problem in contact with Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust’ recently published.
So the only point picked up by the Board Chair in his response to my lengthy and detailed letter is the Mazars review. Wow. All the other stuff, like the upset and distress caused to our kids by the actions of staff during the inquest (and the content raised during that two weeks) just dismissed. The focus, as ever, on the reputation stuff.
It is worth putting on record that the Trust accepts the recommendations contained within the report. We fully accept that the quality of processes for investigating and reporting a patient death required improvement.
The hole digging just gets deeper and deeper. Putting on record? Eh? The Mazars review clearly details the extent of failings. The pre-publication challenges were dismissed. Sloven cocked up. No one (well outside of Monitor/CQC/Dept of Health) is asking if Sloven ‘accept’ the findings. This repeated positioning can only demonstrate how deeply dysfunctional the organisation of the ‘NHS’ is.
As the report observes there is a lack of clarity across the health and social care system regarding which agency should investigate deaths of patients in the community where they are being seen by a number of different health and social care organisations and we are keen to see clearer protocols put in place.
And bam. Straight back into their already familiar refrain; ‘We ain’t the only ones who allow people to die early and cover up their deaths…’ A truly rancid position. Underlining how this bunch learn nothing. How anyone responsible for such scandalous failings can turn round and say ‘Well, other trusts are just as bad’ makes me weep. For so many reasons.
Such a morally, ethically and professionally impoverished argument. And for this, if nothing else, the Board and CEO should stand down.
[One question I think about is what can Sloven/OCC do now? Have we, as a family/campaign, been kicked into a space where nothing they say or do will wash? And if, yes, what does that mean? Typically, from what I can see, families are sooner or later presented as irrational and unworthy of engagement. Shoulder shrugging professionals demonstrate mild bafflement, back away and appeal to establishment cronies for pity/solidarity about being in a deadlock situation with such ‘problem’ people.
This week I was choked to receive a thoughtful response from a Sloven Governor. My response was to immediately flag it up on these pages and welcome it. [Sadly, she turned out to be one of two governors who beetled out of the meeting on Tuesday straight after recording was agreed… but I’m just about holding onto the genuine sentiment expressed in her email.] I spoke to another governor after the meeting. He seemed to get it. He was human, didn’t talk shite and we’ll probably meet him before their next meeting.
The point I’m trying to make here is that families don’t want to battle. And they don’t tend to choose to battle. They are forced to. The rage comes from the need to battle and what this need says about their relative who has been harmed. This rage is deepened too often, by careless, fake, ill informed, offensive and meaningless responses…]
We are working on a range of improvements to the way that our Trust reports and investigates deaths and these are being discussed with the Trust’s key regulators and commissioners. Although much of the work has started the Board will be formally approving this plan at the extraordinary meeting on Monday 11th January.
Yep. Of course. White noise. What relevance is this to the issues I raised in my letter? This again is purely reputational repair shite.
The report identified and the Trust acknowledges that engagement with families and carers has not been to a good enough standard and this is an area that will be receiving particular attention going forward. I and the Board have a genuine desire to ensure that this Trust continually improves.
The Mazars report isn’t the first time non engagement with families has been identified in Sloven dealings. Here is an example from two years ago. I can remember when Rich Watts wrote this post. Before any sniff of the Mazars review existed. In response to the publication of Verita 1. When we naively (so blooming naively) thought that learning from LB’s death would shake up Sloven’s learning disability provision. To make out this is a newly identified issue is deeply offensive. Typical though of the Sloven way which is all about erasure. They try to erase every example of wrong doing by rigidly fixing on the future. It’s a form of bullying really. Dressed up as a ‘learning journey’.
I would be more than happy to meet with you and others to discuss what other improvements could be made so that we can ensure that lessons are properly learnt from Connor’s death and your experience of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.
The meeting ship has well and truly sailed, Mr Board Chair. In typical Sloven shitilla fashion. You have missed and/or stamped on every opportunity to do anything differently since LB’s death. And this non letter is further evidence of this.
Step down. Move on. And allow genuine leadership to take over. [And please don’t attempt to fawn over us at the meeting on Monday.]