A missing ‘apology’ in five parts


Part I.

Michael Buchanan (who I suspect bereaved families across the country are developing serious love for) continues to fight the good fight of uncovering and shedding light on brutal NHS practices. He did a piece about the decision of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to prosecute Sloven for BBC News on Tuesday.

At one point, Huw Edwards, introducing the story, said:

“The Trust earlier apologised to the family…”

I nearly dropped my glass of cheeky and chilled vino.

“Eh? Did you hear from Sloven today, Rich?”
“Neither did I. What apology?

The next morning, a local journalist rang and mentioned the apology.

We ain’t received an apology, mate.

I looked on the Sloven website. Maybe they’d issued a statement. [Putting an apology in a statement is not the way to apologise to a family, mind. I was curious about where this ‘apology’ was].


I continued to hear about ‘the apology’ as the day wore on. With no sign of it. Then bingo. This, on twitter:


Ah. The apology was part of a statement the Trust were sending to journalists. A fake apology extraordinaire.

Part II.

In the same way that the Trust response to LB’s death was to write and circulate a briefing document about my blog to protect their reputation, their response (and this needs to be read within the context that three board chairs, a CEO and a complete set of non-executive directors have now been replaced)  to the HSE decision was to tell the British public, via the press, that they have, once again, offered their ‘unreserved apologies’ to us.

Now Julie Dawes, and your merry band of (shit and/or remaining) executives, here’s the rub:  this is no apology. It is nothing resembling an apology. It is so much worse.

What you have done is:

  • compound the barbaric treatment you have relentlessly dished out to us (and many other families).
  • Make visible the insincere, formulaic and performative ingredients of an NHS ‘apology’.
  • demonstrate you have learned nothing despite saying you have.
  • treat us with further contempt and disrespect I didn’t think possible.
  • show us you remain incapable, either wilfully or otherwise, of understanding basic humanity and decency.

Part III.

The statement is pure spin. A closer look at the wording:


The HSE has “informed the Trust of its intention to prosecute in relation…” [Prosecute who?] “Connor’s death whilst in our care…” [It could have happened to anyone, we just happened to be holding the parcel when the music stopped.] “Could have been prevented…” [Introducing uncertainty into the findings of the independent investigation and the inquest.] “We would like to…” [But we ain’t going to.] “Once again…” [We have apologised to this vexatious mother relentlessly.] “Offer our unreserved apologies…” [A prize for us to take with grateful hands.]  “To his family.” [Family for PR purposes, ‘the Mother’ for every strategic opportunity to stick the boot in.] “Continues to do everything it can…” [Apart from actually say sorry].

Part IV.

You didn’t get in touch with us to say sorry. You got in touch with the press.

Minutes after finding the ‘apology’ on twitter, I received an email from your administrator. On behalf of you and the Board Chair, Alan Yates, about meeting up with the group of families you have treated like utter crap.


You can email me about a meeting (to benefit you) but you can’t say sorry.

You didn’t get in touch with us to say sorry. You got in touch with the press.

I find this unforgivable.

Part V.

Rich and I have felt pretty low since the HSE news. People have been saying it’s remarkable that the campaign has achieved so much. It is. Bryan, from My Life My Choice, earlier reminded me of the time I sat in his office a year or so ago, dejectedly saying we didn’t have a craphole chance of achieving our aims… particularly around making sure Sloven didn’t profit from the sale of the Slade House site and a prosecution against the Trust.

The trouble is, of course, LB remains dead; our beautiful son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend, is forever absent and, within a shifting family landscape, newer family members will never meet their quirky uncle LB, brother in law, second cousin or potential godfather. We know this. Any bereaved family knows this.

What your latest ‘unreserved’ non-apology beyond shiteness this week has shown, is that you have zip all understanding of this, and that you couldn’t give a flying fuck. You have been beaten into a corner by a remarkable, and unprecedented, collective brilliance, and you’ve learned nothing.



Jeremy ‘witch Hunt’ and the mother blame

Was reminded all week about the terrible mother blame that went on across LB’s inquest which was held a year ago. Just a few tasters:




Unspeakably awful. Again my brain weeps This is the NHS…

Sadly, blaming us has been a consistent theme since LB died. Sloven have sent extraordinary briefing reports to all and sundry blaming us for hacking into staff twitter accounts and trolling. Oxfordshire County did a corporate number with their sordid secret review of me, while one of their commissioners wrote a terrible letter tearing me to shreds (I’ve never met the woman who is apparently deeply christian).

Jeremy Hunt seems to have joined the blame brigade now. He was interviewed by David Fenton in a bizarre piece on BBC South last night. Between them, pushing a ‘witch hunt’ version of events. Fenton even described how Sloven staff are too scared to go out with their Sloven lanyards on for fear of reprisal.

Wow. A witch hunt. An unfounded persecution?

For the record.

  1. There was no ‘witch hunt’ after Percy. 
  2. She didn’t form part of our Connor Manifesto.
  3. We have consistently called for the resignation of several exec/non exec members (Gordon, Spires, Grant, Berryman, Stevens…)
  4. Percy, and the above, should have gone a long time ago.
  5. Our campaign has always focused on the executive board (and LB’s responsible clinician) and not the 9000 or so staff members, many of whom I’m sure do a brilliant job.

I wonder why we are blamed. It’s fucking outrageous. We’ve (collectively) done more to generate awareness of learning disability issues than major charities with enormous budgets. For free. #JusticeforLB has been like a second, full time job over the past 2.5 years. We’ve worked our socks off. We’ve been told we’ve encouraged other families to campaign, and fight for accountability for catastrophic events harming their loved ones. What happened to LB is taught on various undergraduate and post-graduate courses across the UK. School kids have written about him for homework. We’ve generated a shedload of brilliant resources (a justice quilt and other art, blogs, lectures, songs, short films, animations, the LBBill, the first ever inquest tweet archive and loads more… see below). We’ve been consistently reasonable in the circumstances (with liberal swears).

The families and ex-Sloven governors have shown remarkable restraint given everything they’ve endured. Peter Bell is under investigation by the trust (I know) and has declined to sign a gagging order in order to see the draft report of evidence against him (I know). (There was no investigation of Malcolm Berryman’s actions in sharing the Mazars review with his son before publication). John Green has been a model of reasoned, informed, restraint in trying to highlight failures in both Sloven and the wider organisation of the NHS [click here for the abridged version of his report]. Repeated appearances on national and local news by Richard West, Maureen Hickman, the Hartleys, Angie Mote and others have been remarkable for the consistently careful, considered and, again, restrained commentary in the face of such (continued) horror. The behind the scenes email exchanges are reflective and respectful.

It’s a very dangerous precedent if any member of the public who asks questions or seeks lines of accountability from those in power is dismissed as a witch hunter.  Cheap and lazy journalism by the likes of David Fenton, who has failed to have even analysed that which has been put in the public domain by campaigners, is simply wrong. The serial failings that we, and other campaigners and journalists have largely unearthed sit well and truly on the doorsteps of the Sloven board (and some governors), Jim Mackey and the NHS Improvement gang, and, er, Jeremy Hunt.


An antidote to the above; some #JusticeforLB magic. The middle pouch is an Arabic justice pouch, the bus ipad holder is made from material used to decorate a lorry driver’s cab and the third pouch holds the complete music for Tippett’s ‘A Child of our Time’ to celebrate the performance in memory of LB at Warwick University in June. Brilliance.

When troubleshooting goes bad…

Blimey. More documents pinging mysteriously into the Justice shed. Including a letter written by the then Sloven board chair to Monitor (now NSH Improvement) raising serious governance concerns in 2011. [Yes. Really]. At first graze, a dense, detailed, informed, harrowing and enraging addition to an apparently unlimited evidence pile highlighting Sloven governance failing.

I’m typing this post listening to Laura Veirs. A vague balm. Rich and I have spent the last three days since the faux announcement of Katrina Percy’s (yet to be properly confirmed) ‘resignation’ in a harsh and agitated space. It’s not about her, as a person. It was never about her as a person. Blimey. She didn’t make it to the Connor Manifesto. But it’s becoming more and more about her

Percy failed to lead effectively. We all know that. The board failed, and continues to fail, as an executive board. The Council of Governors remain split between an enlightened minority and the waste of space rest. There remains a consistent and shocking lack of competence, authority, knowledge and sense among both the board and council. Backfilled with a frenzied focus on reputation and apparently unlimited funds to buy in whatever spurious consultancy or legal support they think will magic away the disorder that surrounds them.

Deeply depressingly, the documents leaked to us today were shared with Tim Smart to provide context to his review of the board. Now we don’t know (I don’t think anyone really knows) what Smart based his (30 June) judgement of the board on. We do know he scathingly dismissed the Mazars review during the meeting with My Life My Choice and we now know he must have dismissed the serious concerns raised by the board chair back in 2011.

We also know he agreed to the very recent secondment of Sandra Grant and Flash Gordon to new pastures (as well as gifting Percy a substantially reduced role on a CEO salary). Why you would give a board under serious scrutiny a clean bill of governance health and then start seconding execs five minutes later is a mystery. Oh. Unless you finally, and belatedly, realise the board is as grubby as they come.

Indeedy, it’s probably about time some of the spotlight shifts to Smart and Jim Mackey (the CEO of NHS Improvement My Arse). What this pair of muppets are doing is beyond me. Did they really not anticipate the inevitable backlash against such offensive and scandalous news? Did Smart not realise erasing all whiff of failure in Percy’s leaving statement, blaming press interest, would simply enrage and inflame? What an almighty pigs ear of executive and regulatory ‘action’.

Ironically, one of the biggest failings here is candour and transparency. From where we’re sitting, it appears Smart made the wrong judgement on June 30 because he is incapable of listening. Days later Michael Buchanan broke the news about dodgy contracts. Patient deaths are clearly nothing compared to doshing your mates £millions for going viral nonsense. Once Roy Lilley was on Radio 4 condemning the spiralling of a £300k contract to £5m, the writing was on the wall. Failing governance a go go.

Instead of a clean sweep, an acknowledgement of failings – of letting down hundreds of patients and their families, of a board gone bad – Smart, Mackey (and Hunt?) ballsed it up. Big time. Generating more media attention and public outrage than the publication of the report revealing that Sloven investigated less than 1% of the unexpected deaths of learning disabled people over four years. A report that led to the appointment of Smart as the troubleshooting interim chair.

What a stinking mess. Do the right thing someone. Please.

In search of rights and colour…

Came across some serious craftivism this evening. Mind and the Drunken Knitwits (among others) set too on the Radcliffe Camera. A welcome distraction from the continuing non action by those who should.

Left me thinking about plans for a bit of a #JusticeforLB shindig later this year (not quite confirmed) called In Search of Rights and Colour. Involving people, human rights, commitment, explosions of colour, love, brilliance, enthusiasm, stitching, passion, double decker buses and a pilgrim path.


Drops of brilliance.

The settlement

Yesterday was mediation day. As part of an action against Sloven about LB’s right to life being breached under the Human Rights Act*. The date was agreed a while back and papers were to be submitted to the mediator seven days before. Sloven submitted nothing. We got more tense the closer it got and by Tuesday night, Rich and I were pretty much in pieces, firing off random, belligerent emails to our (wonderfully calm) solicitor and pacing round the house. Necking wine.

I can barely remember the journey to London first thing in the morning. My rage at what happened to LB, what we’d been put through by Sloven and dread of the day ahead consumed me. Rich listened to music.


The meeting was held in Doughty Street Chambers and there were three rooms. One for us and our legal team, one for the mediator and one for Sloven and their group (of several people). For the rest of the day, we sat in a big, very warm meeting room with a view, tea, coffee, water and wifi. The mediator came in and out. Our legal team went out and came back in. The sun went in and we waited.


At 2.30pm, the Sloven debate started at Westminster Hall. We watched parts of it in between discussions. I half watched the rest of it with the sound off. Following the tweets and texts from a mate. Sloven were getting a deservedly intense and critical panning. On the floor below and over to the left of us, their Chief Operating Officer, another staff member, their solicitors, a partner from their solicitors firm, a barrister, and a NHS Litigation Authority bod sat.


Mid afternoon there was an enormous downpour. A get people off the streets type downpour. No umbrella could withstand the ferocity and that amount of rain. The atmosphere in the room pretty tense as deliberating and discussion continued. Andrew Smith, MP, was clearly articulating the depth of Sloven failings on the muted screen.


Eventually, agreement was reached. Seven hours after arriving we left the chambers and went for a drink in the pub across the road. In sunshine. It was hard to make any sense of what was agreed. A good outcome apparently. I just felt deeply sad and a bit odd.


There are two parts to the settlement.

I’ve woken up feeling as sad and odd as I felt yesterday (with a layer of new exhaustion). The statement is very clear and, given everything that’s happened [he died...] is a form of ‘vindication’, if that’s the right word, without meaningless apology. The money? It was never about money. We’ll talk about that when the kids are all here together in July.

One of our lovely nieces, Clare, messaged earlier asking ‘What does it mean for the campaign?’

Nothing really. This human rights part was never part of the Connor Manifesto so it’s business as usual. Just one horrible, ‘gruesome’ as someone put it yesterday, process done. None of this should have happened.

*We had to make sure the judge could not look back, if the ‘case’ reached court, and say we had turned down any reasonable ‘offer’. If s/he thought we had, we ran the risk of having to pay Sloven’s costs and (I think) being fined.

Non action and a ‘Licence to kill’

During a departmental meeting today, a colleague gave a talk about a project he is involved with; Human Resources for Healthcare in Africa. Part of this work is focusing on how to reduce the shocking mortality rates of children under 5 in Mali and Uganda.

He talked about the drop in mortality rates that emerged as an outcome of the setting up of the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths in the UK in 1952. Setting up an enquiry into deaths in Mali and Uganda seems to have, similarly, led to a drop in mortality rates. One reason being that once healthcare professionals knew that these deaths would be investigated, they started paying more attention to the care they provided.

Leaping to this talk from mundane discussion around office moves and desk space left my head spinning.

…once healthcare professionals knew that these deaths would be investigated, they started paying more attention to the care they provided.

As simple as.

Meanwhile, in the UK, talk of setting up national board to look at the premature deaths of learning disabled people after the shocking mortality rates identified by CIPOLD was watered down into a mortality review programme. Seemingly serving a ‘pointing to’ function. ‘Look… Bristol University are doing this.’

…once healthcare professionals knew that these deaths would be investigated, they started paying more attention to the care they provided….

And once health and social care professionals/organisations witnessed the abject lack of any substantive action by the government response to the Mazars findings they all got a symbolic ‘get out of jail free’ card.

No reason to pay any more attention to the care provided.

Business/death as usual.


Experiencing Mazars, fuzzy boundaries and rank closing

I was working through the open docs on my computer yesterday evening and came across a PDF called 2642_001. It was one of the numerous docs we received the week before LB’s inquest began last October last year. At that point (intense stress, distress, fear and anxiety) I skimmed through them.

I couldn’t remember this particular document. Discovered by a Sloven IT bod, buried in the dark and dank basement of the RiO system. RiO, of course, was the focus of many a boring and repetitive moment during LB’s inquest. [I’ve heard on the leak line that Sloven are currently trialling a new version of RiO… How much money, time (and lives) have been lost through such a clunky and craphole piece of software?]

LB was listed as living in Tadley, Hants. In stark contrast to the scrutiny Sloven placed on the Mazars review. Accuracy aint necessary in generating learning disabled patients records. Address? The moon. Diagnosis? Anything and everything to do with early (natural) death inevitable. His discharge date was 4.7.13 and discharge method ‘6-Client deceased’. [Howl].

Someone we’ve not heard of before ‘diagnosed’ LB with various things in this document. The speed of ‘cover up and protect’ activity very apparent here. Like the ‘Mother’s blog briefing‘ circulated within 24 hours of LB’s death.

death diagnosis

Astonishing for so many reasons. But not surprising in light of the Mazars findings. Careless reporting of and burying unexpected deaths. Constructing ‘best case scenarios’ (i.e. nothing to see here). The Sloven way. While raking in vast sums of money to ‘provide’ care on a weekly basis. The cost of LB’s stay in STATT was around £3500 per week. PDF 2642_001 details he received 1 of a possible 40 specialist assessments. The Incident Management Assessment (IMA) we eventually received via the coroner [Sloven have right old sticky paws when it comes to disclosing any information] states that LB’s seizures were rare and nocturnal.

Fabrication. Fabrication. Fabrication.

Reputation. Reputation. Reputation.

The Mazars review

There has been no real action taken in response to the Mazars findings. Publication just before Christmas was cynically timed to facilitate deep burial of bad news. There’s no other explanation. The findings clearly present failure at Board level, a carelessness and disregard for particular lives and an unknown number of deaths which could have been prevented if earlier deaths had been investigated. A breach of human rights on an unprecedented scale in NHS provision. 

According to the Monitor CEO who I met very briefly with this week if the CQC flag up any issues on their unannounced inspection in the next two weeks [I know] they will consider action. In the meantime they will stick an Improvement Director in Sloven towers. There’s no other information about this Improvement Director.

Sloven meanwhile appointed an ex-Monitor Regional Director to their board this month. Fuzzy boundaries and all that. The stench from sordid and sneaky ‘deals’ seemingly conducted behind closed doors so depressing. I think one of the resounding sadnesses in the Justice shed is how much this experience has exposed (for us) the level of collusion, stitch up and corruption that operates (without check) within these publicly funded bodies.

We received a cheeky copy of Slovens internal briefing about the ‘unannounced’ CQC inspection last week [thank you]. This briefing can be summarised as ‘get the posters up, all hands on deck, persuade staff not to take annual leave till Feb and crank up the quality of death reporting which is still rubbish’. Farcical fakery and nonsense.

We’ve now had 2.5 years of Sloven dealings. Setting aside our personal experiences, documented at length on these pages, Sloven are clearly a ship with shite leadership at the helm. Board member performance (apart from some non execs) at the extraordinary board meeting on Monday was truly excruciating. The CEO, whose only connection to leadership seems to be the number of times she mentions the word, repeatedly deferred to the Chief Operating Officer who cooed beside her awkwardly. When asked directly how he felt about being cosied up with the leadership trinity of Percy, Petter and Grant, he broke into an overly long speech which included the word ‘proud’ so many times I expected the Dambusters film score to burst out from some hidden speaker in the cramped and heated room.

You could argue (and I’m sure that the Monitor/CQC/NHS England trinity have) that being faced with a room full of raging members of the public after publication of an incredibly damning report can only be unsettling. But there’s no evidence of effective Sloven leadership in any setting/context. A focus on expensive nonsense like the ‘Going Viral’ programme; an inability to see that they are spending money on crap consultancy;  minutes and quality and annual accounts you can drive an Eddie Stobart truck through;   recorded performances online that are unconvincing... The list is endless.

A favourite in the Justice shed – Woman on all Fours – is just one example of this:

Humour aside. It’s clear that people are dying early and unexpectedly in this organisation. Denied the opportunity to lead everyday lives. Doing stuff that other people just do.


Sloven routinely ignore and cover up the deaths of certain people. We know this. And this is apparently acceptable across NHS England, Monitor and the CQC.  Perhaps it’s time for some honesty (candour and transparency) across these publicly funded bodies. Either have the guts to say that some lives aren’t important and if these people die early, that’s fine.

Or fucking do something about it.

Explaining #JusticeforLB to a child

IMG_0112-2Well LB was a bit older than you. He was very funny, loving and loved buses and Eddie Stobart lorries. He got upset and a bit low when he was 18 and ended up in hospital. It was a special sort of hospital. It cost more money each week for LB to stay in that hospital than most people earn in a month. It was run by a bit of the NHS called Sloven. The NHS is supposed to look after everyone in this country when they are unwell.

It turned out that Sloven didn’t really care about patients like LB. Or care about some of their staff.  Staff became fed up and some became pretty rubbish at their jobs because of this. They stopped looking after patients properly. LB had a thing called epilepsy which meant he could suddenly pass out. Staff knew this but the doctor in charge told them it wasn’t a problem.

One day LB was in the bath alone (which he shouldn’t have been) and passed out. He went under the water and died. We felt our world had ended. Sloven pretended LB would have died anyway. They said he died of natural causes. But people don’t usually die in the bath (or when they are 18).  Instead of being able to feel sad and think about our beautiful boy we had to fight to get Sloven to admit LB died because they didn’t look after him properly.

Sloven refused to do this and the people, like NHS England or Monitor, who were supposed to make sure Sloven did the right thing didn’t. Nobody who should have sorted this out, did anything. Usually when you work you have a boss who makes sure you do your job properly. And your boss has a boss. It turns out, in the NHS, the bosses of bits of it can do whatever they want. The Sloven boss, called Katrina Percy, and her senior team just carried on behaving badly.

We were worried some other people might have died because they weren’t cared for properly like LB. The boss of NHS England agreed to pay for a review into other deaths that happened in Sloven’s care.

Meanwhile, a lot of other people, all sorts of people, joined in the fight to try and get Sloven to take responsibility for LB’s death. They did all sorts of brilliant stuff. Sports stuff, music stuff, they made films, animations, held cake sales, did embroidery, gardening, drew pictures of buses, flew flags, put LB’s name on buses and trucks and all sorts. Lots of people began to know who LB is. There was lots of fun, love and happiness about LB and people like him.


The trouble is, all this fab stuff didn’t stop Sloven behaving badly. They lied to us (and others) and tried to stop us finding out what happened to LB. They spent more money than some people earn in a lifetime on lawyers to do this. Money paid for from people’s taxes. Luckily, some brilliant human rights lawyers and barristers helped us. The inquiry into LB’s death, run by someone called a coroner, found that LB died because he wasn’t looked after properly. He should still be alive.

The report into the other deaths also found that Sloven didn’t care about lots of people like LB. When they died suddenly Sloven said they died of natural causes and didn’t try to find out why they’d died. Sloven were furious about this report. They said it was rubbish and tried to stop people reading it. Then they argued that other bits of the NHS were just the same. Allowing certain people to die early and then say it was natural causes.

We think Sloven don’t really think that LB and people like him are proper people. That’s why they didn’t do anything when they died early. Like a lot of things, they’ve got this completely wrong. We just need to work out what to do about it. Because LB’s death has shown us just how badly some people are treated in this country. And how those people whose job it is to actually do something about this, don’t really care either.


A bunch of pests… and humanity

Chatting with Rosie earlier. She reflected on how, after 2.5 years of (relentless) campaigning, things had really started happening over the last two or three weeks. Various people also sent emails/messages to the Justice shed today, including Andy who wrote…

What a bloody brilliant thing to see front page of The Guardian. So just to reflect – in the space of about 10 days you made front page of The Guardian and The Mirror, loads of lead stories on all the big BBC hitters (and the ITV ones), triggered an urgent parliamentary debate and, most importantly, brought together 337 hand-crafted colourful, brilliant gingerbread men to remind everyone that this is lives we’re talking about, not statistics.
Not too bad for a bunch of pests eh?

guardian front page

Yep. It is bloody brilliant. And we have been relentless. It has been a relentless campaign. Luckily dotted with laughter, spectacular contributions, solidarity, magic and more. At the same time, instead of (hideously, over complicated, inefficient and costly layers of) quality assurance/regulatory processes uncovering this scandal, it took ordinary people to just say ‘Eh. There’s a strong whiff of something wrong here. It needs investigation.’

It’s obscene that  we’ve had to fight so hard to get this far. It ain’t our job to do this. Far from it. We should never have had to have spent the countless (countless) hours we have working to get some sort of accountability and justice. None of us. I can’t imagine what the collective salary is of staff in Sloven (and other Trusts), NHS England, the CQC, Monitor and the Department of Health who should have spotted that people were dying way too early, with no investigation into the cause of their deaths. [Howl].

Why didn’t they? The findings of the Confidential Inquiry into the Premature Deaths of Learning Disabled People (CIPOLD) was a pretty big red flag in 2013. The government decided to ignore the key CIPOLD recommendation and didn’t set up a national body to examine these deaths. A cracking decision. Leading to the eggy faces we’ve seen in the last week or so. With plenty more eggs lined up. 

Mmm. This was after the public outcry about Winterbourne View and that embarrassingly expensive and ultimately pointless work programme that unfolded, painfully across a few years and then disappeared digitally after the election this year. Ouch. So many organisations/charities signing up to the ‘glory’ back in the day. And little or no public reflection on this collective failure… Astonishing. Meanwhile, people continue to live non lives (or worse) in these hell hole units.

Here in the J-shed we’re pretty battle weary, scarred and totally fucked off by the combination of a lack of integrity and guts, arrogance, dismissal, closing of ranks and suffocating overriding superiority that seems to circulate around the senior levels of the various public sector organisations and government*. The battle to publish the Mazars review just one example of this. Detailed at length on these pages.

For any of these salaried staff, particular those at senior levels, [excluding Katrina Percy and the Sloven Board who clearly ain’t human] there is no mystery here. As Tommy said in The Tale of Laughing Boy, it’s not rocket science. There’s a lack of understanding and recognition that people are just people. And that certain people shouldn’t die (conveniently?) years before other people. Stripped of humanity, dignity, love, respect and value. In both life and death.

The answer? I dunno. A good starting point may be to get over yourselves. Go and hang out with people who ain’t the same as you, your family and your mates. And start to recognise colour, diversity and difference.


*There are clearly some brilliant people in these roles. Just many more who ain’t.



Doubters, deniers and belieSHers


Helter skelter times. With the emergence of the key findings of the Mazars review via the BBC this week. Having banged on relentlessly for over two years now, we feel some relief that a wider set of people may be gaining insight into the improbably inappropriate, incompetent and deeply arrogant actions of Katrina Percy (KP), the CEO of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust (Sloven), and her merry (board of) wo/men.

Sloven have demonstrated tooth enamel removing disregard for the content of one of the most scandalous reviews to be (almost) published this century. A review that has generated what Graham Shaw has rightly described as ‘a deeply-troubling episode in the history of the NHS’.

As we followed the painfully slow unravelling of the top layers of Sloven ‘leadership’ in the last few days, including a late night statement from KP that made me wonder if some cheeky chapster had hacked the ITV website, doubters and deniers started to appear on twitter. [And in person, as Mark Neary experienced.]

For some reason the Health Service Journal (HSJ) led a paternalistic backlash. Cautioning against anyone paying too much attention to this half baked and strongly challenged review. This may be because the HSJ, like us, had been leaked a copy of the independent review Sloven had commissioned to examine the methodology of the (independent) review into their practices.

[At this stage, you may need a moment or two to;

  1. Scratch your head with incredulity
  2. Laugh hysterically
  3. Get a cold beer from the fridge to cool down your forehead
  4. Weep at the bottomless pit of money Sloven can seemingly throw at wriggling out of ‘tricky situations’
  5. Perform some other action to make this completely inappropriate action somehow digestible…]

Sloven commissioned Professor Mohammed* to do a review focusing largely on the ‘outlier’ question.  He strongly critiqued the Mazars ‘at best unsatisfactory and, at worst, incompetent’ analysis. Cripes. NHS England had already commissioned an academic to review the full methodology. Their review (of the review) asked for a fuller account of the methods used but otherwise gave it a clean bill of health.

The second group, the belieSHers, without knowing the content of Prof M’s review, believe so strongly in Sloven’s credibility (as an NHS Foundation Trust?) that the ITV statement was all they needed. Sloven said the findings were wrong. There. Sorted. And stop this sensationalist reporting without foundation. Tsk.

Overlapping this group were the disbelievers, including Roy Lilley who drew on his own ‘intelligence’ to suggest strongly that only sections of the half finished review had been leaked by a disaffected Sloven employee. Incredulity was also expressed at the commissioning of Mazars by NHS England. An audit company, FFS. I mean why not commission an independent outfit who understand the healthcare world. Like, er, Verita, I assume… The disbelievers were distinct from the belieSHers as they snarled at us to publish the review. They at least seemed prepared to accept that a robust review existed.

Finally, there were the conspiracists. Jezza Hunt had orchestrated the leaking of this review as part of his wider privatisation plot. How could there possibly be so much news coverage and an Urgent Question in the Commons on such an issue, in such a short space of time? Wow. Like Sloven, a complete disregard for the content of the report.

These positions were contradictory, sometimes extreme and ill informed. For once we were able to step back and (almost) park the swearing, rage and frustration we’ve experienced and articulated for over two years since LB died. [Howl]. And calmly reply, over and over and over again;

The review is robust. It is complete. We have a final copy. We don’t know why it still isn’t published.

The trouble is, the responses above (including Sloven’s position) make visible the typical excusing and acceptance, even expectation, of shortened lives for some people. They point to accepted processes and practices of a publicly funded health and social care system that consistently discriminates against and excludes certain ‘types’ of people. And when these people die ‘unexpectedly’, a discounting of their deaths.

That there were three days of headline news and sessions in both the House of Commons and Lords on the back of the headline findings of a leaked report, suggests that that the findings of this review are hugely important to the wider public. Outside of the doubters, deniers and belieSHers who, well what do you know… are all firmly embedded within the healthcare world.

The review will be published this week.

*Of Mid Staffs fameimage