A cheeky bit of media advice to Smart and gang

We’re weary in the Justice shed. Weary of the continuing horrors, absurdities, scandals, lies, deceit, cover ups, failures in accountability, delay, obstruction, lack of decency, sense and fairness. Broken Trust, shown this week, was pretty horrific and devastating for families involved to watch. In the spirit of productiveness, and to distract from raging, I thought it might be useful to offer Tim Smart and other senior NHS bods a few pointers in engaging with the media. His interview (and Katrina Percy’s) with David Fenton was an exemplar in how not to. Just a few twitter responses:


3 2


Now I certainly ain’t no expert in media appearances. We have no comms team/resources behind us. In fact the only time I was on local radio before this devastating unfolding, was for work. I forgot the third (stereotypical) characteristic of autism through a rabbit in headlights/fear situ. Deeply awkward and embarrassing at the time. Now just budgie feed.

Here’s the transcript of the interview with Smart with thoughts and suggestions added in red. Please feel free to add further reflections/advice in the comment section below. There is clearly plenty to learn.


1Obviously this interview will have been edited and mucked about with. But the ills and errors were spoken and so available to produce this version. Thoughtfulness, care, honesty, reflection and openness are the very basic ingredients. With knowledge, underpinned by experience, and broader understandings of and engagement with the wider context essential at such a senior level. At a senior level, and on these massive salaries, I’d also expect a clear understanding of media engagement (and the potential pitfalls) and some ease (taught or otherwise) of sitting in front of a camera or microphone.

The third ‘autism characteristic’ I forgot, back in the day, that afternoon at BBC Radio Oxford, was ‘theory of mind’. I was mortified at the time. I resolved to avoid announcing a number of things, in advance of listing them, and to prepare a list of key points in advance. I hope Smart, Percy, and those around and above them, are revisiting the seriously gut wrenchingly awful presentation of Sloven senior culture presented in Broken Trust. And that serious questions are being asked around what has, and continues to happen, at higher levels. 

13 thoughts on “A cheeky bit of media advice to Smart and gang

  1. If Katrina Percy gave her mates all that highly paid NHS consultancy work then I think Mr. Smart needs to reconsider his idea of corruption.

  2. …and did the Board – plus NEDS and Gov’s ratify ‘new’ job plus same pay…..etc ? Was this recorded ? If not why not ? Or was it Tim all on his own ?
    Freedom of Info etc..might be worth shufty…

    • Mark – “I can look you in the eye” – but did you see his eye movement when asked if KP was the only person considered, upwards and to his left. Any body language experts out there?

  3. My thoughts are that Tim Smart is out of his depth and has got himself in a real mess. I am annoyed that the only response of the Government to questions about the appointment of KP is to say it’s a matter for the Southern Health Board (which hasn’t met since July). We don’t even know yet who is paying her. I think that TS might have been given a budget to sort things out by NHSI and it is coming from that.
    The trouble is that it has all been dealt with so badly that it is hard to have any faith now that now Southern Health can improve. How do we have trust in the regulators when they happily preside over, and seemingly encourage, such a badly conducted process? How do we know the new appointees to the Board are any better when TS’s judgement has been so bad?

    • I suspect that the mess at Southern Health is now so deep that like the mess in the north Wales mental health services it is now damn near impossible to resolve. Improvement cannot take place if it is left to the same deeply flawed people to implement – and like the people responsible for the disaster in north Wales, Katrina et al show no indication at all of taking responsibility for the crisis that they have presided over and no sign of learning from their monumental cock-ups.

      • It is unsurprising that Smart is out of his depth. Look at the mess he left behind as Chief Executive of King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, from where he resigned in 2015 without returning from sick leave, leaving an allegedly struggling Trust with a £42.5m deficit; issues with A & E waiting time targets; and concerns that patients were waiting too long for elective treatments. Subsequently, Monitor took regulatory action. Read more about King’s and the cost to the taxpayer to put things right at:
        https://999crash.wordpress.com/2016/08/11/dropping-the-ball/ which has links to other evidence too.

        The question to be asked of Monitor/NHSI is, “Whatever possessed you 12 months later to appoint him to clear up an even bigger mess than the one he had just left behind at King’s?”

  4. The day after ‘Broken Trust’ was aired, the BBC discovered that KP’s ‘new’ job DID EXIST before she took it. SHE WAS DOING IT HERSELF! Allegedly, it was taking 1 day of her time every fortnight! So she’s now receiving nearly £250K pa (including pension contributions) for what was 26-days’ work per annum (excluding annual leave).

    Every time Smart opens his mouth, he makes things worse – he had already done it the previous evening at the members’ AGM, where the mood amongst members and the public was as angry as any I’ve seen this year.

    All SH’s expensive spin doctors and none of them has a clue about crisis management or – more likely – the Directors are not listening. It is not rocket science – they should have started to manage the crisis in advance of publication of the Mazars Review – 12 months ago. Read more at:
    https://999crash.wordpress.com/2015/12/17/crisis-management/ – I sent them this link – 9 months ago!

  5. if criminal charges are brought the Trust will be obliged to lock horns with the reality of their failures. The fact that no charges have been brought to date must be the reason Mr Smart remains ill at ease but bullish. Serious concern suspended for how much longer. KP’s role a fantasy fix that is going to bite him in the backside.

    • ‘If’ criminal charges are brought – I gained documentary evidence of serious misconduct and law breaking in the NHS in north Wales. Result – I was harrassed and threatened until I left the area, the people that I had evidence against are still in their jobs. I have watched other healthcare failures with interest – no matter how serious the misconduct or how many people die, criminal charges are not brought. Smart is probably simply bullish because that is the modus operandi when the NHS is caught out. I presume that they continue with these methods because they’ve worked so many times before – they do fear bad publicity but ultimately they know that they are bombproof. A minister will change roles before senior NHS staff are brought to book.

      • So how do we improve on repeated or deliberate failure – as we have to.
        I do think that mud sticks, and the arguments are real.
        Not the whole of the NHS is so catastrophic, but mostly this area we talk about, is.
        I read an article in the Metro about this board, so people who have a case are not going away.

  6. Re the tweet on safeguarding:

    Out of my personal experience of one LA – I would go directly by mail – ‘For Personal Attention Of’ …recorded delivery to CE of LA – and the Head of Adult Care and the Chair of Complaints Committee in Cabinet. Set out the safeguarding concerns clearly and without emotion. Don’t ever mess about or be tentative about reporting a safe guarding issue.

    The LA ‘safeguarding process’ is cumbersome and (my experience) is not effective.. is more a group of peers meeting socially ….after the event.

    Complaints and Compliments process in my long bruised experience is there to protect the organisation. All it does is let loose a lot of paper activity and obstructive blame and defence..wastes time.

    This C’s and C’s process’s (above) will just direct the concerned person to the ops manager of the SW…who will (in my experience) gather around SW….and/or drag investigation/issue into bushes for ages and/or pass it up the line..all delay.

    Ombudsman….well….how much life have you got..? And they wont listen till been through all the above..

  7. Martin’s LA has no complaints procedure, it is non existant. Nor does his managing authority. The local (Cardiff) NHS trust answered my complaint competently and properly. I then put in another complaint following on the first. It was ignored for months, when I finally got an answer it simply didn’t make sense. When I wrote to the Trust re. this, they ignored me, then said they didn’t understand what I wrote (this is a very useful reply!) I put in a complaint to the DWP, after months and months they agreed I was right and there had been maladministration, but they would not do anything about it. My complaint that Martin is not being paid his full benefits by the Appointee – the LA- was answered by I do not believe this is correct, do not bring the matter up again. And so it goes on.

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