This is an example of how Southern Health protects its interests and those of its medical professionals by obstructing varying avenues for complainants, who thereby do not obtain justice and closure.
In or before September 2013, Southern Health received requests for a patient’s data under The Data Protection Act 1998 (subject access request), The Medical Act 1983 (for the General Medical Council), The Health Service Commissioners Act 1993 (for the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman). At a similar time, Southampton City Council received a request under The Local Government Act 1974 (for The Local Government Ombudsman), much of which are jointly controlled by Southern Health.
These Acts require disclosure of data respectively within 40 calendar days, 14 working days, and, for the Ombudsmen, as long as the High Court would order. The data subject and the GMC received pitifully small bundles of grossly inaccurate and incomplete data and the Ombudsmen received larger but still incomplete and inaccurate bundles.
Arguably, such conduct also represents a violation of The Human Rights Act 1998 – Articles 6 and 8 of The European Convention on Human Rights, which require respectively a fair hearing and personal data held by the State to be accurate.
Despite interventions by the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Department of Health, the National Audit Office and others, complete and accurate data remains unavailable even now – after at least 880 days!
Then, on 1 February 2016, third parties received a letter from Southern Health’s solicitors:
Look at the last two paragraphs – “Strict Deadlines” and most impertinent of all:
“The Trust has certain responsibilities under the Data Protection Act 1998.”
I have suggested to Mr Pickles and Ms Ruth Atkinson-Wilks that they should start giving proper advice to their own clients – not issuing urgent strictures to third parties who have supported the patient from the outset.
But then, think of Bevan Brittan’s fees: as Mario Puzo said in ‘The Godfather’:
“A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns.”
There goes Southern Health again – wasting taxpayers’ money – this time on solicitors to cover their backs when they were perfectly capable of doing the job themselves during the last 2 years, 4 months.
The Caldicott Guardian of Southern Health (responsible for information governance) – no less than Dr Lesley Stevens! Where have we heard that name before? Connor Sparrowhawk’s Inquest – where, according to a live twitter feed:
“Coroner considers late disclosure concerning and will be writing to @Southern_NHSFT to seek an explanation: shd have been shared months ago.”
“LS [Dr Lesley Stevens]: The buck stops somewhere and we’ve heard no-one is clear where the bucks stops.”
So Southern Health’s Medical Director does not know where the bucks stops when there is a failure in medical care! Unbelievable!
Not bad work – if you can get it – for £110-115K per annum (based on her predecessor’s salary in the 2014-15 Annual Report & Accounts).
What a Pickle!