Rich and I were back on the bus to London at lunchtime to meet with Norman Lamb and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Brilliant sunshine on the walk from Victoria to Westminster. People going about their daily biz. Three years and three days after LB died a preventable death in the care of Sloven Health. 266 days after a jury determined LB died through neglect. And still no accountability.
The meeting, at Portcullis House, largely involved discussion around the length of time the HSE investigation has taken so far as detail couldn’t be discussed.
Our love for Norman Lamb has been a constant since the curry night when we first met him. He was instrumental in getting the HSE to investigate LB’s death. Writing to the CEO after the HSE originally decided not to investigate. I’ve not seen him in action up close before today. He was deeply impressive, carefully questioning the HSE trio throughout the meeting. Sense, clarity, knowledge and sensitivity. Pinning down timings, process and progress.
Why did the HSE decide not to investigate originally?
I assumed when I was informed there would be an investigation it would happen straightaway.
Why is it taking so long?
Why did you not work in tandem with the police?
This is not being given the seriousness it deserves. I can only conclude it’s an indication of how learning disabled people are seen as less than human…
It amounts to cruelty to take this long. It isn’t complicated what happened.
I don’t understand why it is taking so long.
Where does the failure lie?
There were mixed answers, some contradiction and non answers. The back story is that the HSE originally decided not to investigate because they decided (no idea why) that LB died as an outcome of a clinical decision. [Howl]. After Norman Lamb’s intervention five HSE people reviewed the decision and, with particular focus on the Verita report, decided to investigate. Apparently there was some blurring over investigative responsibility while the police were still involved and the HSE took primacy for the investigation after LB’s inquest in October 2015.
The HSE inspector finished her report in February and it then got stuck in some interminably slow process of internal checking for around five months until this week. It’s now been sent to legal advisors and next steps are expected to be announced at the end of October…
It’s taking so long because these things can do, it depends on the complexity of the particular case, because there was a lack of clarity over responsibility. It most definitely is not related to LB being learning disabled or (slightly less emphatically) because an NHS Foundation Trust is involved.
On the bus home, I had a look through recent HSE press releases. Three bath related investigations since December 2015.
Joseph Hobbin died in June 2013. Ark Housing Association pleaded guilty and were fined £75,000. [December 2015]
A patient died in April 2008. NHS Kent and Medway Social Care NHS Partnership Trust pleaded guilty and were fined £107,000 plus £25,000 costs. [January 2016]
A patient died in August 2011. The European Healthcare Group pleaded guilty and were fined £100,000 plus £50,000 costs. [June 2016].
Blimey. Should never have happened. Well documented risks. Legal duties…
Same old same old. An alternative re-run of Sloven related inquests over the past five years. Lesley Steven, Medical Director, popping up to say lessons learned/changes made and the CEO in hiding. A grotesque and macabre dance around death. Dripping in (meaningless) and lengthy bureaucratic processes. A fine and a non rap over the knuckles. Disconnecting and siloing. No linking between instances of shit care. To enable the wheels to keep turning.
Meanwhile families continue to be brutalised.
We know LB should never have died. We knew before we walked out of the John Radcliffe A&E into blistering sunshine that July morning. He was completely failed by the state who had a duty to care for him. Since then, evidence of Sloven failings have been unprecedented. Both in volume and the extent to which they have led to no action.
Norman was spot on when he said this is a form of cruelty. State sanctioned cruelty. With no end in sight.