Right Betfred, IPSIS and the ‘statement of hope’


We’ve been racking up some toe curling and often parasitic meetings since LB died. Pretty much all involve travel (at our expense), time (unfunded) and no apparent change or tangible outcome. Two immediate lowlights stand out. The Monitor six minute jobby of course. And a shindig with other families at the House of Commons organised by Mencrap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation. Our role; looking sad and waving A4 laminated photos of our kids (produced without discussion or permission) to order at the All Parliamentary Party Group on Learning Disability. Rich walked out. I didn’t. Shudder.

A ‘relatives day’ was organised by the Independent Patient Safety Investigation Service (IPSIS) Expert Advisory Panel (EAG) last November. IPSIS is another meaningless [not sure what to call it really] venture? Endeavour? Nah, too generous… Job creation/sustaining scheme?  Dunno. Thing. It was announced last July as part of the gov response to various reports into safety in the NHS.

Like the Winterbourne Joint Improvement Programme (JIP), IPSIS does nothing like it says on the tin. The Winterbourne JIP generated no improvement. IPSIS ain’t independent. It’s based in the Dept of Health and the Expert Advisory Group Chair is Mike Durkin, National Director of Patient Safety, NHS England. Hilarious really. Although it ain’t because there is a very clear need for independent scrutiny of deaths in NHS trusts.

Anyway, the IPSIS EAG [sorry] has met about 10 times so far in six months probably at enormous public expense. Meetings are held in London at the Royal Society. From what I can glean from meeting minutes it’s come up with a name change (something instantly forgettable), a promised final report and the decision to appoint a Chief Investigator by the launch of the service in April 2016.

I know I’m becoming sourer than a lemon sherbert but I suspect the final report and new Chief Investigator post were decided before the IPSIS EAG was convened. So this bunch have come up with a name change. And been battered by random decisions imposed from above. (Independent) investigations will apparently be limited to 30 cases a year (?) and will (apparently) focus on maternity related deaths in the first year (?) There will be a focus on learning, not ‘blame’ and disclosure of findings to families is to be determined on a case by case basis.

There is something I find pretty uncomfortable in all this IPSIS stuff which is deeply influenced by learning from the aviation industry (a human factors approach). Jeremy Hunt gave us a human factors speech when we met him and it always comes across a bit too evangelical and cult like to me. And it involves secrecy and prioritising staff wellbeing over families who want answers and accountability.


[New paragraph]

To be fair to the IPSIS Expert Advisory Group they have clearly been concerned about independence, although to little effect. This extract is from the December minutes:


A statement of hope. Christ. Trusting the NHS?  What a load of bollocks.

The ‘relatives day’, in November, was a variation of the laminated House of Commons photo waving gig. Bereaved families were asked to be filmed for the Department of Health to use in promotional materials for the launch of the (branch) service this spring. We’ve heard some families agreed to filming and then withdrew their permission after it became clear the whole day was a PR stunt. Just dire.

What really stinks about all of this is that families engage with these meetings because we want change. For what happened to our relatives not to happen to anyone else. Instead, we are engaged with (momentarily), at a time and place dictated by the NHS, or related organisation/charity, offered a fake whiff of change, have a bit more life sucked out of us and then spat out until the next time.

The IPSIS (Branch) EAG might just as well spend the expenses allocated for their final meeting/s in the nearest bookies they can find to the Royal Society [Betfred on Gerrard Street].

Or withdraw from the whole fake process.

But they won’t.



5 thoughts on “Right Betfred, IPSIS and the ‘statement of hope’

  1. Sara you must feel sucked out by it all
    I often come back from meeting after meeting thinking where did that actually get anyone ? It feels like pissing in the sand because there’s always another agenda and it’s about you and every other person fitting into that agenda while they pretend it’s about you.
    Far too important to come to you ever
    Always on their terms and I’ve got over any false excitement I ever had going to one of those landmark buildings many years ago. The only great pleasure day was when Norman Lsmb waited quietly to the end of listening to Cakerstones hospital and then went puce and shouted at them. I felt like a big kid watching the cavalry coming( not very PC but that was my childhood and I was always glad).
    Just cynical not excited now

  2. Not sure if the avuation ndustry midel is the right one to follow – though it works well for aviation.

    Even so – if the aviation industry modelled itself on IPSIS it would be run by the Airports Authority which would also be responsible for allocating resources to airlines. Investigations would be limited to a certain number per year, however many crashes there were. In the first year only crashes of, let’s say, 747s would be investigated.

    I suspect also The Airports Authority and the CEOs of airlines would never be blamed even if they starved the airlines of resources and managed them appallingly. The overworked and confused mechanics at the bottom of the heap would be told to learn lessons.

    The families of people who had died in aircrashes might or might not be told why the plane had crashed …….

    What a shambles/PR stunt/gravy train

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