Of mice and (NHS) monstrousness

A story ‘broke’ yesterday about extortionate NHS interim director costs. Sickening figures of waste, greed and mismanagement. At senior levels. Again.

In another of those ‘you couldn’t make it up’ NHS moments, the highest paid interim Improvement Director named in the report, Steve Leivers, was helicoptered into the trust Tim Smart, now Sloven interim Board Chair, previously ran. Yes. Really. Not Smart in non action. Again.

I read this latest news having been unable to move beyond Chris Hatton’s recent analysis of Sloven’s annual report. Cut and paste Katrina. And extraordinary senior exec salary figures. With Lesley Stevens, Medical Director at the top of the ‘leader’ board. A cool £365-70k per annum including jaw dropping pension contributionsHow can she possibly ‘earn’ this sort of dosh? Let’s have a look at her performance during LB’s inquest last October.

Lesley Stevens and LB’s inquest

Reasonably confident while reading out her evidence and then being (sleep) walked through clearly rehearsed questions by the Sloven barrister, she floundered big time when questioned by the six remaining barristers. Her answers so deeply insubstantial (a generous interpretation) it was as if the courtroom had switched to watching CBeebies.

£365-70k per annum…

Some examples:


LB died in July 2013. The (post Mazars review) CQC inspection in January 2016 found the Sloven epilepsy policy had yet to be signed off. Paul Bowen, QC, carefully questioned each Sloven staff member about their knowledge of epilepsy during LB’s inquest. No one answered in other than the vaguest ‘ain’t got a clue’ terms. There was no up-skilling staff over two years after LB’s death.


LS3Here Paul Bowen seeks clarification of Stevens outlandish statement that all learning disabled patients with epilepsy were reviewed before the CQC inspection in September 2013. At that point, Sloven were still spinning the line that LB died of natural causes. They did nothing to check the provision in STATT (it failed on all 10 domains inspected 6-8 weeks after he died) let alone review patients with epilepsy in their wider provision/outposts.

A blatant and contemptible lie. Perjury to us herbs outside of senior NHS circles.

LS2Paul Bowen tries to drawn Stevens on the failure of the RiO system. A failure that persists to this day. She resorts to her default response. A murmur/mutter noise reminiscent of the dog ate my homework type responses from school. Not the sharp, authoritative, informed, engaged response you’d expect from a senior exec at an inquest over two years in preparation, with nearly £300k squandered on ‘defence’ costs.

When questioned by Adam Samuels, another barrister, about the reduction in Band 6 and 7 staffing reductions in STATT (and the next door John Sharich House), Stevens says:


‘We make savings where we have to make them…’ On frontline staff. While you continue to draw an obscene salary

Monstrous. And remorseless. Just one, among so many.

When did the NHS we grew up with, took for granted and loved, become so riddled with greed and rot… with complacency and arrogance, with inaction and protection. At senior levels?

14 thoughts on “Of mice and (NHS) monstrousness

  1. Regarding ‘complacency at senior levels’ – in the mid-1980s when I first complained about the mental health services in north Wales my complaints were sidelined by a manager called Peter Higson, who had worked as a clinical psychologist at the North Wales Hospital Denbigh, the institution that I was complaining about. The chaos and neglect in the services continued even after this institution was closed down. Some years later I took my complaints to Health Inspectorate Wales. The Chief Executive was one Peter Higson – who failed to investigate my complaints. Peter Higson then ‘retired’ from Health Inspectorate Wales. The organisation was deemed to be not fit for purpose shortly after his retirement. Subsequently, the new Chairman of the Betsi Cadwalader Health Board covering north Wales was appointed – it was Peter Higson. The Health Board is now in special measures because of the serious failures in its mental health services.
    I could give many more examples – in north Wales managers, even at very senior levels, are simply recycled around a system that has already suffered from their failures. I have watched it for thirty years.

  2. It’s the arrogance of thinking they are somehow special, and worth all that money, while front line services are cut back.
    I remember when I was working in the NHS that there was a prolonged vacancy freeze, meaning no-one who left got replaced, even if the same service had several people leaving, and people were really struggling. Then one of the directorate manager’s admin staff left, and guess what, she was replaced. Somehow, this was different; the directorate manager’s needs were special; she was ‘worth it’.

  3. Did Lesley Stevens not also say at the Inquest that she didn’t know where the buck stops? And that’s from the Medical Director! Yuck. Oh and Southern Wealth (including Dr S) should have learnt about not risking-assessing seizure patients from their “spectacular mismanagement”* of my condition in September 2011 – nearly 2 years before LB passed away. [*Bryony Gordon of The Daily Telegraph].

  4. They say the NHS is in dire financial straits. The money is running out. The NHS managements know it. The CEO’s know it. So why are they still commanding huge obscene salaries if the boat is going down? Do they want it to go down? If it goes down will they come to the rescue under the guise of new private companies ready to fleece us once again? Will they get their mates to tender for the services? Of course they will.

    To think Sara if you and your wonderful friends had not doggedly pursued these shameless greedy bosses, then none of these awful truths would have been uncovered. Now all that is needed is for the politicians who were democratically voted in to govern this country to use their powers to stop the rot in the NHS.

  5. Regarding politicians and their responsibility ‘to stop the rot in the NHS’ – politicians of all hues know exactly how dire the situation is but they absolutely will not confront serious problems in the NHS, they duck out every time. Numerous patients and relatives in north Wales approached local politicians (and the Secretary of State for Wales Peter Hain) about the abuses and neglect in the mental health services – we usually got nowhere. I still have the e mail that Hywel Williams the MP for Caernarfon wrote to me when I wrote to him regarding the mental health services – it read ‘You have your opinion, I have mine’. This is a man who claimed to have a special interest in mental health – I was later told that he had even held one of his post-election victory parties at the house of one of the nurses who worked in the mental health services because her husband was involved in Plaid Cymru. On another occasion I approached the former MP for Llandudno, Betty Williams, whilst she was out canvassing in a local branch of Tesco no less – when she realised that I wanted to discuss the mental health services she tried to have me thrown out. All the local politicians have known just how dire these services have been for years but they will not confront the medical establishment. The Welsh Government are also desperate to play down how serious the problems are because they don’t want more attacks from a hostile administration in Westminster (although its quite clear that poor mental health services are a very big problem across the UK) – so the enormity of the wrongdoing is never admitted and those doing it stay in post. People continue to die and more money is wasted on salaries of people who should not be in their jobs. And everyone ends up even more hopelessly compromised.

  6. Some MPs in Hampshire appear to be trying their best but Dr Julian Lewis (MP for New Forest East – home of Sloven) has refused in writing to be involved – even to the extent of refusing to pass evidence of serious misconduct by Sloven directors from his constituents to the group of Hampshire MPs, ably led by Suella Fernandes MP, who are trying to make a difference. And they are both of the same political persuasion!

    • There was one politician in Wales who took on what can only be described as the corruption of certain medical practitioners and managers in the north and that was Edwina Hart. And my God they really hated her for it – she was subjected to an all out hate campaign in the media, which seemed to have been led by BMA Wales (I had a nasty aggressive e mail from them myself). I believe that Edwina did really try and change things – but because the Welsh Govt didn’t dismiss or prosecute anyone those people stayed in their posts, undermined all efforts to bring about improvement and are still causing havoc. By the way – the local paper yesterday contained a report of the death of yet another mental health patient…

  7. So what we seem to have in this country is a ‘masonic’ type set up where the members of this elite can do what they bloody well like then. Time for the revolution.

  8. We lecture at – and intervene in – countries across the world – on basis of our boasts of our excellence in our model of – Democracy.

    Yet we have Public officers at every level (all appointed on claims of ‘Governed by the people for the people’ ?) – saying one thing and doing the absolute opposite.

    It is blood boiling to read how so many already very well paid Public Officers so cynically abuse our Democracy.

    Chilling – to see so many managers and execs appointed only to serve us – greedily and selfishly extract millions of pounds from our NHS. Our Public NHS. A service already deep in budget deficit – and they do this without a sniff of concern that their greed robs – saps the life out of so many ill and powerless – very vulnerable – people. Shame on you.

    And worse: – that the best rewarded Public Servants (in cash and status and very generous benefits) all HIRED BY US through the ballot box – and paid by us from our taxes – to scrutinise and bring to account all OUR failing Public Servants …

    – don’t.

    Wee bit hypocritical ………or what ?

    • Noted the huge – obscenely so – pension rewards of SHFT execs – as reported in press today.
      My understanding as a former NED – is that these pension payments are a pretty routine part of NHS exec annual rewards/bonus. Awarded by NEDs (some more tame than others?) for exceptional delivery over and above agreed strategic objectives. Surely can be withdrawn from these SHFT execs on their abysmal record..?

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