OPEN LETTER 17 February 2016
By email only: email@example.com
Councillor Roy Perry, Leader of the Council, Hampshire County Council
Dear Councillor Perry
Hampshire County Council (“HCC”) and Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust (SHNFT”)
Cllr Alan Dowden suggested that I write to you personally about the Hampshire Adult & Social Care Select Committee (“HASC”) meeting on 9 February 2016, held specifically to discuss SHNFT and the Mazars Review. Unfortunately, I was due to make a deposition to the committee but had to send apologies as a result of family illness.
I was staggered at reading the resulting headline and introductory paragraph in ‘The Daily Echo’:
“Embattled Southern Health chief executive survives vote of no confidence at county council.”
“THE leader of a controversial Hampshire health trust received a surprise boost amid a storm that her organisation failed to investigate the deaths of hundreds of people with mental health problems and learning difficulties.”
I know many patients and family groups in Hampshire (and elsewhere), who will feel thoroughly disgusted and let down by HCC Councillors. Why should we be paying part of our Council Tax for HCC to safeguard residents when clearly HCC is not safeguarding them adequately?
I resolved to investigate what occurred at the meeting and spoke to HASC members Cllrs Huxstep, Harrison, Harvey, Choudhary, Burgess and Dowden. I also spoke to Cllr Joy, who is not on HASC but was present as an observer: he is an SHNFT Governor, appointed by HCC. All bar one spoke to me courteously and at length: Cllr Burgess was rude.
Their stories about the meeting varied to a significant degree – even amongst those with the same party affiliation, so it is difficult to draw conclusions. However, Cllr Burgess told me the vote was the Chairman’s decision: when I pointed out it was a vote not a decision, which should not be political), she hung up – was I too close to the truth? However, I can conclude fairly safely:
- Katrina Percy received desperately-needed good press: some Councillors claimed The Echo report is misleading – but the Council’s media officer, Jane Vidler has not (to the best of my knowledge and belief) exercised the Council’s right to reply.
- HASC gave SHNFT 6-months to improve. This is absurd: the Council’s contract with SHNFT for the provision of joint mental health services is due for renewal on 1 April 2016.
- Some Councillors alleged voting went mainly along political lines – why is this issue political? If so, for the second time in four years, SHNFT manipulated a Council meeting successfully to achieve its own ends and Tory Councillors have acted in a way that is inconsistent with the views of Hampshire’s Tory MPs. I attach Hansard [18 Apr 2012: Column 79WH], which details the previous incident and names Katrina Percy and Dr Lesley Stevens specifically. Clearly, to paraphrase Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis MP, their “Slippery” conduct has succeeded with the Council again.
- HASC is not conforming to HCC’s Joint Mental Health Commissioning Strategy [2012-17].
With respect, the Council has been wilfully blind to what was going on at SHNFT and continues to ‘turn a blind eye’. Not only did HCC officials refuse to help when I fell foul of SHNFT’s bad practises in 2011 but it appears HCC leaked adverse and defamatory information about me to Southampton City Council in blatant breach of The Data Protection Act 1998 (“DPA”).
The Council should assist its taxpayers in improving services – not busying itself acting against their interests to maintain poor services. (Thanks to Cllr Joy, your corporate complaints unit is now considering the Data Protection and defamation issues).
I can prove beyond all reasonable doubt that SHNFT perverted and/or attempted to pervert the course of inquiries by Regulators, Ombudsmen and even their own investigations in my case by:
- Destroying and/or withholding prima facie proof of professional misconduct by a social worker (who I believe now works for HCC) and two doctors.
- Failing to comply with five Acts of Parliament relating to data – the DPA (subject access request and breaches of the 4th and 7th Principles), The Medical Act 1983, The Health Service Commissioners Act 1993 and (indirectly) The Local Government Act 1974. These four 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 GMC and I received pitifully small bundles of grossly inaccurate and incomplete data in September 2013 and the Ombudsmen received larger but still incomplete and inaccurate bundles. Such conduct also represents a violation of The Human Rights Act 1998 – Articles 6 and 8 of The European Convention on Human Rights, which respectively give the Rights to a fair hearing and to personal data held by the State to be accurate.
- Since The Care Act 2014 came into force, SHNFT has already been in breach of sections 81 (duty of candour) and 92 to 94 (providing false and misleading information).
- In breaching these Acts, SHNFT defied advice from the Information Commissioner’s Office, Department of Health (who SHNFT misled in writing), the National Audit Office and others. SHNFT finally fulfilled my Subject Access Request last Friday – after nearly 900 days – so I will not know if my data are complete and accurate until I have time to analyse them. I will be very surprised if my data are DPA-compliant, even allowing for two destroyed documents.
- At a meeting on 3 February 2014, the CEO of SCC and Acting CEO of SHNFT lied to NHS England, The Department of Health, Southampton Clinical Commissioning Group, my private Consultant and me about the existence of two documents and lied again (in writing) having been asked to review their position: they later admitted to destroying this vital evidence.
- I attach a list of incidents that, by subterfuge and broken promises, remain un-investigated by SHNFT 4½ years later. They include some pretty disgusting incidents, of which I could have easily fallen victim, had it not been for the fact that I was not mentally ill anyway.
Other patients and families of the deceased all report similar incidents and events to those I have outlined in this letter in attempting to obtain justice for themselves or their loved ones.
I have carried out extensive research on other cases at SHNFT. Mazars and (as background for Connor Sparrowhawk’s Inquest) the Coroner’s Office both requested copies. There are similarities between my experience and Connor’s: if SHNFT (perhaps even HCC) had learnt from my experience (rather than covering it up), Connor might still be alive – equally, I might have died.
Although Mazars considered only the period of 2011-15, there were a number of serious incidents associated with Katrina Percy’s preceding employers. For example:
- On 27 May 2008, HCC’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee discussed serious incidents at Fordingbridge Hospital in 2007. Katrina Percy was Director of Care Services.
- During 2007-10, I have identified at least five apparently unnecessary deaths – Victoria Nye, Michelle Connor, Conal Browning, Antony Lamont, Christopher Barrett and (indirectly) John McCarthy, murdered by a friend, whose section SHNFT discharged too early. I have identified at least one ‘very near-miss’ in the same period.
It is untenable for HCC to continue to lend support to Katrina Percy and those in her cabal, such as Dr Stevens. Mazars has identified a complete failure of leadership and governance over a four-year period but my research demonstrates that she has failed to take advantage of (what the NHS terms euphemistically ‘learning opportunities’, i.e. cock-ups) over a period of at least 9 years.
Incidentally, the live twitter feed of the Connor Sparrowhawk Inquest reported:
“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 SHNFT’s Medical Director and Caldicott Guardian does not know where the bucks stops if there is a failure in medical care and information governance! I and (I suspect) the majority of Councillors know where the buck stops in these matters – with Katrina Percy and Dr Lesley Stevens – so why does HCC continue to be seen to support them?
I cannot believe HASC would have passed the motion about Ms Percy if fully apprised of the facts.
Also, it is evident that HCC does not fully grasp the overall weakness of SHNFT’s non-executive directors (“NEDs”) and Governors: there are notable exceptions but they are in the minority. The Governors are required to hold NEDs individually and collectively to account for performance of the Board and to represent the interests of the Members of our Trust as a whole and the interests of the public. Two examples show how the Governors fail in these duties.
- The Lead Governor covered-up an allegation of misconduct by a NED and fled a meeting like a frightened rabbit because a BBC TV crew was filming it. In my opinion, he is in an untenable conflict of interest situation too.
- One NED has been (metaphorically) in bed with Katrina Percy since 2009: clearly, at best, he has been asleep on the job. Also, there is a potential scandal at another public body, of which he is senior NED, involving suppressing a critical report and a referral to the National Audit Office. I believe he is in an undeclared conflict of interest situation at SHNFT too.
There is no obvious solution to this because SHNFT can veto membership of the Trust. It thereby controls who can stand for election as a public Governor. As a result, the weak Governors are always likely to outnumber those who are capable of taking robust action.
Having related my experience and research to Cllr Dowden, he suggested I meet you personally as Leader of the Council, along with Cllr Huxstep (Chairman of HASC), Cllr Joy (HCC’s Appointed Governor of SHNFT) and Cllr Harrison (protocol: I live in his constituency).
Once you have reviewed all my evidence and research, you may decide that HASC should convene a second public meeting so that HSC can reconsider its position.
Clearly with the Council’s current contract with SHNFT expiring on 31 March 2016, there is a degree of urgency in this. Therefore, I look forward to hearing from you shortly.
Contact author of letter by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
C.C. Cllr Andrew Joy (email@example.com), Cllr Roger Huxstep (firstname.lastname@example.org), Cllr David Harrison (email@example.com), Cllr Alan Dowden (firstname.lastname@example.org) – for information, Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis MP – for information, Suella Fernandes MP (email@example.com) – for information and others as consistent with an Open Letter.