Don’t poke the beast…

The footies on. Somewhere. Everywhere, it’s so damn quiet. Home alone with Bess. Listening to music. Head spinning from so much happening and not happening. LB’s five year death anniversary speedily approaching. The day before NHS 70th birthday celebrations. I feel queasy already. Hunt and NHS England remain silent about the leder review. Bouncing back FOI requests as too expensive. Refusing to comment.

An extraordinary level of engineered wilful disinterest.


I put in a Subject Access Request a month ago asking to see Valerie Murphy’s statement for the MPTS hearing. She read my statement. Her barrister commented on it during his illness inducing cross-examination.

The answer came back today:

“I do not believe there is information that is disclosable under the DPA”. Oh. The GMC will however disclose extracts relating to LB if I sign a confidentiality agreement.

Murphy had no such restrictions. She can say whatever she wants about my statement. To whoever she chooses.

And so it continues..

A week ago a bizarre comment was posted on

The answer to George’s question was this:

Spencer and Murphy studied at the same university at the same time.

Oh my.


We know snarky (or worse) and largely unchallenged discussions go on behind the password protected (and I’m sure other forums). These started within weeks of LB’s death. Mother (and other) blame has had a remarkably unremitting purchase in health, social care, education circles for decades now. Noted and discussed at length by families. A steely silence (apart from the odd dissenter) from professionals who must recognise this shite for what it is.

These random, unexpected and typically incoherent attacks are pretty hard to endure. Our boy died. He died. You just don’t seem to understand this. He was 18. Can you imagine your child dying a preventable death in the ‘care’ of the NHS?

A beloved and beautiful child. Dying. A preventable death.

Can you begin to imagine?

Why don’t you fucking try to imagine?








“Breathe before clicking…”

Three possibly related developments in the last week or so. [One] The Sloven annual report published last week included a paragraph about the ex-CEO and her pay off:

‘Independent capability reviews’ had determined Percy was fit to lead. Blimey. That’s  interesting. What do these reviews say?

Well, a capability review was carried out by YSC for a cheeky £116k excluding VAT last year. A report that has never seen the public light of day despite FOI requests by ex-governor Peter Bell. It apparently gave the board a clean bill of health in the summer of 2016.

One year later, not one executive or non-executive director remains in post.

Now I ain’t no mover or groover in senior NHS circles [cue the eye leaking emoji] but I can’t help thinking that purging a Trust board of every executive and non-executive director is a pretty serious move.

Percy is apparently exonerated by this [secret] capability review while two prosecutions for failings under her watch are pending. Just extraordinary. I mean I can only imagine/hope one prosecution against a Trust is a pretty serious and rare gig. While two…?


In the same week, I received an email from a journalist scamp with a warning to breathe before clicking. [Two] Percy is back and touting for business  with some toe curling claims. These include inspirational and visionary leadership, creating an open, accessible and energised culture, and successfully delivering a major acquisition of services.

[Three] As the last few Sloven staff transfer over to Oxford Health or limp back to Hampshire, the door is finally closed on the grim and grotesque acquisition process Percy led back in 2012. I think it’s fair and reasonable to say that using the word ‘successful’ in relation to this process and the devastation that followed, is one of those stretches that should never have been a fleeting thought in a careless moment, let alone typed into a Linkedin profile.

I want to flag up here that I have no personal vendetta against Percy. I have no interest in her as an individual outside of what she, her actions and the ‘official responses’ to her actions reveal about the murky of murkiest corners of the NHS.

There are, clearly, serious questions generated by these latest unfoldings which should be of concern to all of us.

Not least, why do the various NHS layers – Jeremy Hunt, the Department of Health, NHS England, NHS Improvement, the CCGs, the Sloven board – allow, enable or facilitate these narratives of delusion and erasure to stand unchallenged, and the continued channelling of scarce dosh into insalubrious pockets and pots?

UPDATE: The PriceWaterhouseCooper audit clearly summarises the failings the bulk of which occurred under Ms Percy’s leadership. Deary, deary me… Something is Stinky Pete around here.



An exemplar in how not to


An American sociologist, Harold Garfinkel, famously encouraged his students to go out and deliberately breach social rules (like being very shouty in public) to make visible the strength of these unwritten rules. When I was a student we could do this for one assignment and report how those present responded, or write an essay. I didn’t have the nerve to do the former.

The sacking of Katrina Percy (and the earlier unfoldings leading up to this) has been a kind of breaching exercise. Making visible the deep flaws in the organisation of the NHS. The internet/social media didn’t exist when Garfinkel developed his breaching experiments. These days, the ripples of (public sector) ‘rule breaching’ spread far with an unimagined immediacy. People are rightly outraged about the £200k pay off. How patients denied treatment or operations because of the cost must be feeling about this news is impossible to imagine. It’s simply obscene.

The handling of the Sloven debacle is worse than extraordinarily poor. On December 10 2015, Hunt stood up in the Commons and promised a series of measures in response to the publication of the Mazars review. The CQC so far seem to be sticking to their gig (albeit without using the powers they have effectively). NHS Improvement (NHSI) were tasked with sorting out the rot among the Sloven exec. They have bungled this task spectacularly. The wrong person was appointed to troubleshoot (alarmingly, Tim Smart has always maintained he contacted NHSI offering his help after seeing Tom question the board on BBC News). It was clear NHSI missed an opportunity to appoint a clear headed, sharp thinking, deeply experienced, no nonsense type of person.

Smart, as we know, failed to lift any stones (leaving it to campaigners and journalists to reveal the howlers that were in full view with the sending of the odd FOI request or ten), and decided the board were fit to practice. Etc, etc, etc.

What an almighty fuck up. The NHSI press statement is simply embarrassing.  I’m reminded of Shaun Picken, a trustee of My Life My Choice asking Percy: “Katrina, why didn’t you ask for help? You clearly needed it”, at the January board meeting. NHSI. You clearly need help.

I’m a lay person with no experience in public sector management (and currently on leave in Berlin for the weekend…Brilliant timing as always) but it strikes me there are some fairly straightforward things that should happen. Including:

  • Thorough scrutiny of financial irregularities around the Talentworks contract which, I’m sure, would provide evidence that Percy, supported by a bunch of longstanding exec-mates, has mismanaged public money.
  • A thorough review of the Sloven exec and removal of the remaining muppetry (Spires, Berryman, Stevens, Gordon, etc).
  • The appointment of replacement execs with mental health and learning disability expertise.
  • Full engagement with the public and a clear demonstration of a willingness to be open, transparent, honest and robust.
  • Stop relying on ‘reassurance’ and demand evidence. A reliance on ‘reassurance’ contributed to LB’s death.

Jim Mackey, Jeremy Hunt and others, you should feel ashamed at the handling of this. It’s an exemplar in how not to.

The Shaw Report

Start writing a book with determination. A new evening activity. This means digging out all the FOI stuff, documents, reports and paperwork. It feels like the right timing given LB’s inquest started a year ago today. Two harrowing weeks, a jury determination of neglect and no action. Still.


Revisiting these documents (post LB’s death, I can’t bear to return to the earlier stuff yet), in the light of what has unfolded is pretty revelatory. I just wanted to single out one of the many individuals who have stuck with the campaign from the start here. Graham Shaw. Graham, the CEO of the DIPEx Charity until a couple of years ago, has consistently written letters about what’s happened. To all those implicated. Incredibly sharp and dripping in sense, his letters generate responses.

This one, written to Jeremy Hunt in April 2014 was prophetic really.



The Sloven Head of External Communications responded in a tawdry and deeply inappropriate way asking [redacted] to “support the drafting of any response to Mr Shaw” [16.4.4 13:46]. Extraordinary evidence of the blurring of boundaries and positioning of NHS trusts as above questioning.

Here is the unfolding exchange. About as Stinky McStink as you get really, particularly given the timing of the responses and redactions. Emails 3 and 4 probably hold some significant clues to the continued lack of action against Percy and the board.







Two and a half years ago.

A year and a half before LB’s inquest.

No words really. Other than Graham Shaw, we salute you. Keep writing the letters matey.

Another dirty day down Sloven way


Got the background details (via a Freedom of Information request) about the commissioning of the study into families’ experiences of Sloven’s serious investigation process yesterday. I’ve written about being invited to take part in this study. And of Lesley Steven’s defence around the magic wand stuff.

It turns out Sloven decided up front that this study should take the form of an Appreciative Inquiry. David Snowden offers a critique of this approach which includes:


It ain’t a big surprise Sloven like this approach. They don’t engage with their failings at any level or allow patients or families to express how they feel. Setting aside the criticisms identified by David Snowden, Appreciative Inquiry ain’t an appropriate approach for bereaved families. Unilaterally choosing an approach that only focuses ‘on the bright side‘ when looking at patient deaths is simply wrong. And risks causing more distress to people.

It turns out that the consultant who got the gig was recommended to Lesley Stevens and commissioned on the basis of a couple of emails and meetings:


Shudder. At the March board meeting, in response to mention of the commissioning of external ‘work’, Mike Petter, then Sloven chair, quipped: This is a company we haven’t worked with before – there is one out there. No joking matter. We know the sizeable chunk of Sloven expenditure over the past few years spent on commissioning ‘consultants’ or legal professionals to help dig them out out hole after hole after hole.

The cost of this latest venture?  £27,000 for 40 days work. Yep. Really.

Sloven have rules (like any public organisation) around the spending of public money on external services. There has to be justification for why there is no competitive process. Any spend of more than £25k has to go to the next Audit Committee for review…

The £27k agreed for this gig includes VAT so I assume the £22.5k (excluding VAT) figure (handily) means it doesn’t make the Audit Committee bar. As for the lack of competitive process… the excuse is presented on the Single Tender Waiver form here:


Ah. Bloody hilarious. Though it ain’t of course. Recommendation about the supplier is surely the reason procurement rules were implemented. Recommendation by whom? [Handily redacted in the FOI info]. Pace required following Mazars and CQC..? Sloven first got sight of the Mazars review last summer. Not much pace here. Lesley Stevens gifted the job to the consultant in February 2016 after it must have  (eventually) dawned on senior Sloven muppetry that the CQC inspection did not go well. So competitive processes to protect public money are swept aside because of continued Sloven crapness, denial and arrogance… A circularity that makes my brain weep. And for the record, alternative suppliers are plentiful/Appreciative Inquiry philosophy ain’t essential. Quite the opposite.

What’s particularly chilling? (I dunno, running out of words/thoughts here, it’s all so utterly shite) is that Sloven think this ditsy review is an appropriate response to either the Mazars review or CQC inspection.To commission it in such a shoddy, careless and piecemeal way underlines how unfit for purpose the Sloven senior team are.  It’s actually flagged up by Katrina Percy in a letter to NHS Improvement (who she still calls Monitor here) as progress on their enforcement undertakings:


Further demonstration of how devoid of understanding, ability, empathy, willingness, whatever the senior team are. As if any more is needed. These people simply shouldn’t be running this organisation. There’s a superficiality so obvious, documented so publicly and repeatedly, leading to such serious failings it is extraordinary.

Getting a colleague of a colleague, a mate of a mate or whatever combination to write some nonsense, bypassing processes in place to make sure public money is spent with caution and transparency and demonstrating a complete lack of understanding about bereavement is so wrong it almost defies words.

Work on this ‘review’ is due to be finished in the next week. I don’t suppose for one moment the consultant has been able to do anything approaching what she outlines in communication with Lesley Stevens. I hope Victoria Keilthy reads whatever puff that reaches her with a sharp lens and reflects on the commissioning of this crap. This is a public body.