Watching the consultants

After Tim Smart*, new Sloven board chair, astonishingly announced at Tuesdays meeting that he was commissioning an independent review into Sloven board performance, Chris Hatton totted up the Sloven spend on external consultancy for the last three years. Over £8 million. £8 million… Wow. Given they continue to fail deeply, they really ought to get this dosh refunded. (And stop commissioning consultants.)

Yesterday I received a private and confidential letter from our (least) favourite medical director, the hapless Lesley Stevens.

image (30)

Astonishingly crass but I’d expect nothing less from Sloven, who wouldn’t recognise a bereaved family if they sat in the middle of a funeral service. No thought for the poor buggars receiving this letter, just Sloven, Sloven, Sloven all the way.

Still, at least they are doing some research I thought. And went on to read the credentials of the independent researcher. Ah. They ain’t independent. Or a researcher really. They worked for Hampshire Partnership Trust (predecessor to Sloven)… Sigh.  I emailed to find out more details about the study.  Turns out it isn’t really a study. It’s a ‘service review’. No real details are available other than the (non) independent (non) researcher will ‘interview family members that come forward and to write that up in a report with recommendations on how the Trust improves the process’. Nothing like a bit of rigorous and ethical study. Nope. Nothing like it.

In the absence of a protocol or study design (just extraordinary) I was sent the interview questions. These, too, show a complete lack of understanding of the focus of the ‘study’. Reading them, for the first time in years I appreciated ethics boards. The final question is a cracker:

reviewCan you imagine asking families whose relative has died in Sloven care this question? We ain’t talking about an evaluation of the Royal Mail complaints process FFS. If it had been everything that you would want it to be…?

My jaw is almost permanently clamped shut at the lack of anything remotely human these muppets do these days.

Now, for those mysterious callers and poison pen letter writers among you, I ain’t being picky, vindictive or vexatious here. This is a public sector body squandering millions on shite, continuing to ride roughshod over patients and families while openly failing. It is simply wrong. When I think of the lengths Sloven went to trying to bury the Mazars review, one of the most important, critically analytical and robust studies conducted within the context of the NHS, and yet they will trot out this non ‘study’ as hard evidence of whatever suits them in a few months time… No questions asked. No scrutiny. Nothing.

Not only that, they will very likely have caused additional distress to bereaved families in the process. Another ill thought through and clunky non action plan.

Stay classy, Sloven. As always.

*Not an auspicious start for Mr Smart, sadly. Further details of his bully board behaviour here.

9 thoughts on “Watching the consultants

  1. Why NHS Un-improvement lumbered us with Smart if a mystery: it is common knowledge that NHS staff are subjected to bullying by directors but for them to lumber us with a Chairman, Tim ‘bovver boy’ Smart who deliberately intimidates governors, family representatives and others in public is beyond belief. We are currently studying NHS Staff Surveys for Sloven and King’s (where he was CEO) and will make a blog post soon. At first sight, the figures at King’s look even worse than at Sloven. Will post a link here when completed. Stevens has to go!

    Sara – perhaps their so-called independent researcher would like the research I have done on Sloven deaths and the way families are treated. Perhaps you can let me have a name/contact details by email. I would have thought that the most effective way of responding to the questionnaire is to ignore it until they commission truly independent investigators! Mazars?

    As I said at the extraordinary Board Meeting in January, Stevens in charge of anything to do with candour is like putting Ronnie Biggs in charge of a mail train!

  2. Reading your blog gives answers to everything they need to know about what they should do.

    There have been loads of amazing staff who have left southern (Hampshire) trust over the years. Somehow I doubt the good ones would want to return until situation very different. Their own health would suffer trying to implement change at top level.

  3. As if they need another non independent review . What is there to review?.
    You couldn’t have more facts, paper investigations, witness statements.
    So, even more on the gravy train again, its job for the boys creation.
    How much will this review cost ?
    What can it achieve in respect to information and compliance that all the other investigations couldn’t ?
    And all this spend is our money for duties owed to us and our children.

  4. Most of the research I did when I was working in HE was approved by uni governance committee but one project in health area (I was minor partner) had to go before Local Research Ethics Committee with medical, lay and other members. I was really impressed with the thoroughness of the consideration of the ethics, purpose and quality of the proper research. But whether uni or LREC, the validity of the research, the impact of the research process on participants, data protection and privacy were among the things considered. Your post shows clearly how none of these has been considered for this ‘study’. The bare-faced effrontery of these people is astonishing. Do they think they can wipe away Coroners inquest findings or Mazar’s report with their Slovenia etch-a-sketch?
    Sara, I don’t know how you carry on – hugs from windy Iceland.

    • This questionnaire wouldn’t pass Research Governance Framework standards (that were developed and used by a few lead Social Care User Involvement departments from around 2007) to look at all research projects or surveys from all over England; a sort of local authority equivalent of an NHS ethics committee. Any study as extremely sensitive as this, carried out by a Trust, should actually go through an NHS ethics committee because it could cause emotional harm to the participants who are bereaved vulnerable people.

  5. We have complained about Tim ‘bovver boy’ Smart to NHS Un-improvement today and suggested their Regional Manager meets a small group of patient representatives for feedback. Here is their f**k off response:

    “Thank you for your email. As we have explained before, we do not think a meeting will be helpful in the absence of receiving genuinely new and substantive information that is relevant to our role.

    We have considered the information you have provided or pointed me towards on your blog, but do not think it raises governance concerns which we need to look into further over and above that for which we have already taken regulatory action. Your concerns, for example, about un-investigated elements of your original complaint relating to your treatment are matters for the Ombudsman.

    I realise that you and one of the trust governors are unhappy with Tim Smart’s conduct at the recent board meeting, and understand that you have both raised these concerns direct with Tim, which is the appropriate course of action. We remain satisfied that he is the appropriate person to be the interim chairman and continue to work closely with the trust to ensure improvements are made.

    If you are aware of patients or families that wish to share their experience of the trust with us then please encourage them to contact my team on 020 3747 0900 or email”

    Better still contact the author of this nonsense direct Grimes Tom (NHS IMPROVEMENT – T1520) . Direct Line 020 3747 0365 and whilst you’re at it, copy any emails to
    ‘’ and ‘’.

    And what he says about the Ombudsman is b******s. The Ombudsman will not consider complaints that have not been investigated by the Trust; the Ombudsman will not investigate the conduct of doctors; and moreover the Trust has not supplied complete and accurate records to the Ombudsman.

  6. How many reviews will Sloven commission? It reminds me of two little boys tossing a coin to see who wins. The boy that loses the toss then says ‘lets have best out of three’ so that he may have another chance of winning. Sloven is playing the same game. They keep commisioning reviews until they hope they get one that comes down on their side. Pathetic really when you think how much all these reviews cost, as especially as the NHS is pleading poverty..

  7. Presumably you’ve seen this esteemed consultant’s website and Companies House filings? It seems to essentially be a one (wo)man band with few clients. And she’s an Occupational Psychologist (1 yr training?) that offers online CBT to businesses to support stressed staff wtf?

  8. Pingback: Another dirty day down Sloven way | mydaftlife

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