A tale of two women


Ursula Ward

cropped 3 Katrina structure

Katrina Percy


Which of these is the most courageous and honourable Chief Executive of an NHS Trust?   



As we were discussing Southern Health with Suella Fernades MP and the Minister for Community and Social Care (Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP) in Parliament on 8 June 2016, little did we know of the scandal erupting at Hampshire’s Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, following a critical CQC inspection in February and March.

The CQC described the emergency department as “chaotic” with an “unacceptable” risk to patients. It gave the hospital an overall rating of “inadequate“. However, although patients were clearly at risk, there is no reference to actual harm or death.

In urgent situations, the CQC brings failings to hospitals’ attention without awaiting formal publication of a report. Indeed, ‘The [Portsmouth] News‘ first reported the CQC’s concerns on 28 April 2016.

The then-Chief Executive, Ursula Ward resigned on 27 May 2016, so by the time the story hit the public domain:

  1. The Chief Executive had taken full responsibility for the Trust’s failings and had resigned.
  2. The interim Chief Executive, Tim Powell acknowledged that it was appropriate for the Chief Executive (the Accountable Officer) to leave.
  3. Tim Powell went on to confirm that as Interim Chief Executive he was now Accountable Officer and accepted full responsibility for putting things right.

As a result, Tim Powell was able to reassure the public:

“We fully accept the inspector’s findings and … we are determined to ensure that by … next winter, our service will be better.”

JOB DONE – or rather started!

This is textbook crisis management – signal detection (listen for alarm bells); preparation and prevention (plan for when the crisis breaks); containment and damage control (the Chief Executive has resigned already); and business recovery and learning starts even before the formal report is published.

One of the five leadership competencies in a crisis is to make wise, rapid decisions and take courageous action.

Compare this with Southern Health – alarm bells ignored; no plan in place when the crisis broke (other than for Katrina Percy to cover her back); no containment or damage control; business recovery has not even started six months later; decisions (or lack of them) have deepened the crisis; and no-one has had the courage to make wise and rapid decisions, which everyone – apart from the Board – knows are necessary.


Leadership & patient care:

The NHS Leadership Academy repeatedly refers to the link between leadership and patient care:

“Better leadership leads to better patient care, experience and outcomes.

There’s so much evidence connecting better leadership to better patient care.

They [Francis, Berwick, Keogh and leading academic, Michael West] all make the link between good leadership and making a positive difference to patient care, care outcomes and the experience of care.”

And the Leadership Academy states the reverse:

“There is far too much evidence linking failure in leadership to failures in patient care too. In fact, getting the leadership right makes a very positive difference.

And it doesn’t happen by accident.”

In short, lousy leadership leads to lousy patient care, lousy experience and lousy outcomes. Katrina Percy – think of this when you are concentrating on publicity to protect your back. 

In this context, on 8 June 2016, Mims Davis MP reported to Parliament:

“Yesterday, Mr Smart told me that his initial view on exactly this point was that the senior executive team had a focus on dealing with Southern Health’s public relations issues, and not really on the care and quality in what was being delivered. That, simply, was why there was no change” [‘Hansard’ Volume 611 – 8 June 2016].”

Nicely put Mims.

So Mr Smart, why not suspend Katrina Percy and Lesley Stevens now, pending a full disciplinary inquiry?

I don’t believe it!



Victor Meldrew would have something to say about recent news relating to Southern Health but the temptation to use the image of a grumpy old man (Tim Smart) is resisted.


Who is listening to Mazars?

The lead director of Mazars, responsible for their Review of Southern Health, informs us that NHS Trusts generally are taking the report very seriously. NHS Trusts nationwide are regularly asking her to make presentations to their officials.

Who is not listening to Mazars?

Tim Smart, Interim Chairman of Southern Health – who admitted to a meeting of My Life My Choice last week that he hasn’t even read the Review. Despite not having read it, he asserted that the Review is wrong and that he hadn’t seen anything that lays blame at the door of Katrina Percy. He appears to have caught the psychic powers of Dr ‘Mystic Meg Lesley’ Stevens. Read more →

As NHS [Un]-improvement imposed Smart upon Southern Health largely as a result of the outcome of the Mazars Review and subsequent CQC reports, it appears that he is being paid a (no doubt very generous salary) on false pretences.

That’s not-so smart, Mr Smart.

Blistering attack on Tim (not-so) Smart

In a letter to the Secretary of State, a bereaved family member has launched a blistering attack on Tim (not-so) Smart about his conduct at the recent Board Meeting: we will publish the text if permitted by the author to do so. This is the third complaint about his conduct: read the first two →

Nepotism in action

In February 2016, The Independent Commission on Acute Adult Psychiatric Care, led by Lord Nigel Crisp published a report. It included recognition of Southern Health’s mental health work. Surely Crisp had heard of the Mazars Review and knew there were serious question marks around the care provided to mental health patients?

Readers may think it odd that Crisp highlighted Southern Health in his report.

Turns out he works with Katrina Percy’s dad though. Read more →

News from Parliament

7 May 2016: A small group of MPs led by Suella Fernandes is grilling Smart today.

8 May 2016: Debate in Westminster Hall at 14.30 hrs.

“That this House has considered the governance of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust: Suella Fernandes.”

It is unlikely that BBC Parliament will broadcast a Westminster Hall debate but Parliament Live should broadcast it. See guide →