The afternoon before the hearing



I spent the afternoon with Tom trying to get photos from an old mac that’s been gathering dust and more upstairs. Eventually, after exemplary focus and persistence by Tom, and a few chuckles along the way (yep, yep, my computer smarts are shite, I’ve a desktop that demands a cone of shame and I’ve not updated anything since about 1749), 451 pics from the (g)olden days are now on my desktop. (A fair few have an alarming luke white question mark but we can save that battle/puzzle for another day).

Above is LB ploughing his own path up a hillside holding tightly onto to his i-summat music player. The gadget he produced myriad playlists on, back in the day. Each with one song on.

It was our last family holiday in 2010. He did what he typically did; stuff (the day out in the Black Mountains with a makeshift picnic) in his own way, own time while breaking nonsensical and meaningless rules along the way. So what if he was far behind? He got there in the end.

Before we got stuck into this task Rich and I walked into town to get a hard drive. On the bus home Julie Dawes, Sloven CEO, rang in response to my email from Friday. Good for her for calling back. I want to present the gist of our conversation here because I think it contains or flags up important elements/ingredients for the relationship between Trust staff and bereaved or harmed families.

The Sloven board apparently made the decision that no board member would attend the Health and Safety Executive hearing at Banbury Magistrates court tomorrow for ‘various reasons’. This was because they decided it would cause us further distress and it was ‘usual’ to send the communications manager to such hearings.

Julie Dawes rang me out of the blue on Friday because she was worried about the distress their planned press release would cause us. We weren’t asked whether the attendance (or non-attendance) of a senior exec at the hearing would cause us distress. This suggests that baby steps of improvement (concern about press release distress) remain coated in relentlessly longstanding concern about Trust reputation. And an accompanying lack of really understanding what is important to families.

You can’t assume distress in one area (attendance at the hearing) while checking it in another (press release content) without raising questions about what is actually ‘important’ here. Our feelings as a family or Sloven comms/reputation.

And when you’ve endured the extraordinary through Trust actions like we, and so many other families, have the ‘usual’ is irrelevant and obscene.

It’s really time to start walking up hills using the example of LB (and others) if you mean business around changing practice. Chuck out the grotesque, the turgid, the meaningless, the offensive and step up. Demonstrate the ‘impact’ a patient’s death has had on your organisation with actions. Not talk. [As an aside, and a frankly unapologetic plug for my book, one of the things I learned from early readers was ‘show don’t tell’.]

Think about the thin arguments you’re making and challenge them yourself. Instead of sending the comms manager ‘as usual’ (I struggle here with what ‘usual’ is in such circumstances), make sure a board member pitches up, even if you anticipate a five minute hearing. LB wasn’t given the chance to live. Don’t show further disrespect or worse by thinking it’s only a ‘five minute hearing’, or because you want to downplay the importance of the hearing.

Stand up publicly and show you fully understand and recognise that your organisation is responsible for the preventable death of a patient. Until you do this, no other fucker is going to.

Julie Dawes said on Friday she wanted to offer any personal help she could. It turns out this was distinct from arrangements around the hearing tomorrow and board decisions about attendance. A revealing comment (which is not to knock the offer of help which we appreciate). For families ‘the personal’ is too often the process. And the obliteration of humanity through that process.

By the end of the conversation I think we were sort of on the same page. I appreciate her sticking her neck out by ringing earlier. I hope productive discussion followed our fraught conversation. And I hope some respect will be shown to our beautiful boy who died in the cross hairs of a greedy, arrogant and failing Trust, local authority and CCG, tomorrow.

He deserved so much more.




12 thoughts on “The afternoon before the hearing

  1. On the nail as ever Sara, would do like to be able to come to Banbury myself but impossible to be away from home at moment.As ever my heart is with you xx

  2. You have achieved so much – for all the beautiful boys and girls – who die or are changed for ever out of brutal incompetence and abuse – and are denied justice by the same arrogant, cynical bullying of truth.

    From all of us – mums and dads – who have battled – and still battle – stumble on – alone in the dark – for justice for our beautiful boy or girl… thank you.

    Our lonely path is now flood lit – with your brilliance – and your courage and your glorious love for your beautiful boy.

  3. I’ve reached the conclusion it’s all about the money. Its easy for NHS trusts and NHSE and CQC to forget it’s OUR money rolling into their coffers they are spending and how easy it is to spend other people’s money. People protecting their jobs at all costs once they’ve been found wanting, employing Rottweiler lawyers to defend the indefensible when a suspicious death occurs, NHS directors play acting at business having been promoted above their level of ability, cutting budgets at a snip which ensure poor staffing levels on the ground; employing service workers who are low quality and with poor training who are ‘ another pair of hands onboard’. Just anyone will do.

    The Dept of Health trickling down to NHSE and NHS trusts manage a multi billion ‘care ‘ industry’ with its (often rotten) learning disability services and there isn’t one impartial and independent organisation representing families and the taxpayer, checking what they are playing at inside these (often rotten ) learning disability services with OUR funding.

  4. I opened an email from Sara this morning, which suggests that Sloven might be ‘reflecting’ on its decision not to be represented at the Hearing – well done Sara, if it happens.

    I have left an urgent message with Julie’s secretary to support Sara’s argument and (living only 4 miles from Sloven’s HQ) have added:
    There is still time to get there: I might even be prepared to provide a taxi service myself!

  5. Pingback: The afternoon before the hearing | idealisticautistic

      • Afraid not, they were distracting us with things like Wayne Rooney drink driving in a mystery woman’s car. It’s disheartening when they choose to give us “bread and circuses” and avoid the important news.

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