Tears, rage, disbelief, frustration and utter bafflement

Tim Smart made his judgement about the Sloven board on Thursday morning:

smart shite

Graham Shaw managed to summarise this statement in less than 140 characters shortly after it was published.

gs tweet

Needless to say there have been tears, rage, disbelief, frustration and utter bafflement in the Justice shed. Richard West produced a powerful statement on behalf of families and patients (drafted in the early hours of Thursday after we’d pretty much worked out that KP was not going) summarising key failings and articulating our collective incredulity. [The decision to transfer Oxfordshire provision to Oxford Health was made months ago…]

In a (farcical?) twist, Smart arranged to meet some families with Alistair Burt just before his statement was published on Thursday. Their response (with evidence of contemptuous Sloven behaviour) surprised him and he said he needed to think further/hear more. This explains Alistair Burt’s statement on local news that the issue of Sloven governance wasn’t concluded.

I’ve got a lot of time for Alistair Burt (and never thought I’d say that about a Tory MP). Here he is, a few weeks ago, at the extraordinary Sloven debate at Westminster House:

Burt tweets

On Wednesday, the day before Smart’s announcement, the inquest into the death of another young woman in Sloven’s care was held. The coroner reinforced Alistair Burt’s concerns as lack of communication, ignored care plans and records changed retrospectively were revealed. Again. Lesley Stevens, in her full time role of attending inquests and producing worn out platitudes dropped the ‘lessons learned’ crap this time. That ship has well and truly sailed. Sadly, and incomprehensibly, the Sloven CEO was not on it.

It’s worth revisiting Alistair Burt’s words about Tim Smart and NHS Improvement from the Westminster Hall debate here:


I think many of us disagree that ‘the right person is (was?) in place’. Smart, for whatever reasons, failed inexorably to cut effectively through Sloven murkiness. Despite the clear evidence trail laid out for him online. An example of the dangers of crusty (and arrogant?) senior bods dismissing social media without having more tech savvy colleagues provide them with a summary of what has gone before. Or perhaps Smart knew and chose to ignore this beyond damning evidence. After all, he pulled me up on the language I use on this blog when I met him.

I can tell you, Mr Burt, (and I know you heard this in the meeting on Thursday morning) the (non) actions taken by Tim Smart have not gained the confidence of people. Quite the opposite. And there seems to be little quality in the actions he’s taken. We’re left asking how and why the person ‘leading’ an organisation that cannot keep certain patients safe (while her focus has apparently been overly focused on operations) remains in post? Despite demonstrating no understanding of patient care, humanity and appallingly little competence stretching back over four years (and possibly longer).

I could pepper this post with swears. My brain has swears careening around it at the speed of sound. Rich and I have become even more randomly sweary since Thursday morning. If that’s possible. But I won’t. Instead I’ll leave you with a photo of a Playmobile figure I dug up in the garden earlier. LB died three years ago on Monday.


16 thoughts on “Tears, rage, disbelief, frustration and utter bafflement

  1. Following the meeting on Thursday, from which I was excluded, I have a face-to-face, one-on-one meeting with Alistair Burt later this month. I too think he is basically a good man (hence he is meeting me). Will do my best for everyone and will be making a post about my actions this week on my own blog soon. Mr Smart’s most alarming statement is that he had seen no evidence of negligence by any Board Members. He has had such evidence available but has been wilfully blind to it. Oh! And his car registration number includes 007 – which just about sums him up.

  2. are these morsels ? the needing to think a little longer, stating openly SH inactions were bordering on complacency , bordering but not quite complacent ? Too cruel if any more crumbs are thrown.

  3. I just don’t understand how any human being can respond like this. I hope you are still able to pursue a corporate manslaughter charge. I am so sorry this is still happening to you xxxx

  4. Another possible angle has just occurred to me – what constitutes gross misconduct by an employee of Southern Health? If it could be shown that KP’s (in)actions amounted to gross misconduct you could take a complaint all the way to the Ombudsman if necessary….?

    • To me, the most damming sentence in Smart’s announcement is:
      “I have found no evidence of negligence or incompetence of any individual Board member.”
      Perhaps Mr Smart, you would have found evidence if you had actually looked for it and met the governors and complainants with the strongest evidence. I will return to gross misconduct in a separate comment below.

  5. “Mr Smart’s most alarming statement is that he had seen no evidence of negligence by any Board Members.”
    Wellcome to the world of legal semantics.
    This doesn’t mean he had seen no evidence of negligence by any Board Members. Which as we know is there and have seen, and which he has seen. This means that he is presenting this phrase as foil to impede your progress, and he is using this with the “process is control”. He probably hasn’t thought of this by himself but been advised to say it by his legal team, which is usual practice. There will be lots more like this, each step of the way.
    There will also be a “cat and mouse” game of “red herrings” along the way. As long as you keep this is mind as you proceed, you will win and its worth winning.
    Remember the Hillsborough case took twenty seven years to win.

  6. Regarding Zoe’s comment about gross misconduct, you can take it to the Ombudsman but if you can find evidence to support the common law offence of ‘Misconduct in Public Office’ that’s a criminal matter for the police.

    Google ‘CPS Charging Standards for Misconduct in Public Office’ and you will find a description of the offence and charging standards. Cut and paste them into Word and then engross your comments and evidence. There is no doubt that NHS officials are public officials acting in that role: the other key word is dishonesty. Then you can decide yourself if it is worth a police report.

    You only need to do this because it is a rarely used charge – often used when the penalty for the underlying offence is insufficiently severe. You can use your final analysis to talk it through with the police.

  7. The fundamental truth is that if you are not there for your child, to see how they are being cared for, and many of us, like you, Sara, are not helped to do that when we know we DESPERATELY NEED to – because others (as we now know and see) will probably leave them to die, as in your case.
    The services were supposed to do their part and help, which we all want or wanted to be grateful for, but they often (not always) push parents out, knowing full well that the person needs the love and watchful eye of a parent or family.
    If ordinary children need their parents, our special children need us a hundred times more.
    As a ‘civilised’ society why do we let specialist services be anti-family, when they go home and look after their own.
    We’ve known as humans for thousands of years that we don’t get better without people we love being near us.
    Other people haven’t got the patience or the interest. Evolution didn’t design them to really care.
    Whereas we have all the time in the world – we exist for that.
    They left him to die – didn’t check his vulnerabilities the way you did, didn’t watch over him, and this Trust would have swept him under a carpet if his mother and family had not been alive.
    I’m so sorry for those who can’t speak like you do.
    All even you’ve got left are toys to look at and photos and memories.
    And endless shock moments for the rest of your life where you suddenly see something he did, liked, wrote.
    We all have a right to life.

    The Westminster debate said clearly that the Trust was incompetent with reporting and investigating many deaths – deaths where there was supposed to be RECOVERY.
    They weren’t brought into the world to be exploited to feed services as so many are.
    That wasn’t the dream!
    We always needed people that were different, people who don’t think only about money. Instead, people made money out of them.

    This Chair may not respect Westminster debates or independent outside reviews – but he’s just an ordinary man at the end of the day who is a mouthpiece.
    His meaningless statement shows no conscience, from a body that uses the word ‘Trust’.
    We must all rise above this, and continue this movement for integrity.

  8. Had a look at NHS England’s professed ‘behaviours’ – part of its vision and values

    We prioritise patients in every decision we take.
    We listen and learn.
    We are evidence based.
    We are open and transparent.
    We are inclusive.
    We strive for improvement.

    Southern Health has failed in these behaviours. I hope the bodies and people sent to sort it out keep these objectives in mind.

  9. But:

    The above are not behaviours they are statements of a pretty watery promise? Each of the above could be qualified and or distorted as required – even if supported by well researched clearly described and measurable behaviours ?

    1.” We prioritise patients in every decision etc ”….

    Qualification – ‘unless the need to protect the status of an individual or individuals precedes those of patients’.

    (eg Values must not shoogle the NHS boat)

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