Public participation at Southern Health’s Bored Meeting (mis-spelling intended) on 26th July 2016 included the following [anonymised] statement and questions addressed to Mr ‘Not-so’ Smart.
You cancelled an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council of Governors convened by your predecessor for 17th May to debate and vote on resolutions of no confidence in certain directors. You caused to be published in ‘The Lymington Times’ a threat to four governors, who genuinely wished to obtain patient feedback.
You wrote also on the same day:
“I have met informally this morning with members of the eth (sic) Council of Governors and I will shortly reconvene the extraordinary CoG to consider the outputs of a process which the CoG will undertake with the support of independent legal advice, which the Trust will fund.”
Shortly is three or four days (a maximum of a week) yet over two months later – after you completed your review – you have not reconvened the meeting and, to the best of our knowledge, you have not arranged the promised legal advice.
You also wrote:
“I fully intend to meet with patient representatives, as part of my fact finding and considerations, and a programme is under development to enable me to do that.”
Yet you reached your conclusions without holding any meaningful meetings with complainants and bereaved family members.
As a result of your threatening behaviour at your first Board Meeting, the Major Crime Investigation Unit of Hampshire police confirmed in writing that the area community policing team would monitor the next Board Meeting and NHS Improvement rebuked you:
“[We] will remind Tim of the importance of communicating sensitively and appropriately with all stakeholders.”
On 30 June, you invited a small number of bereaved families, along with Minister of State, Alistair Burt, to a meeting in Winchester at very short notice so that they could hear the outcome of the Board Capability Review first. However, you issued a statement to the media before telling the families so the outcome was in the public domain before they knew.
You claimed to have read all the available evidence. This is untrue or you condone Katrina Percy colluding with Deloitte LLP to mislead the Department of Health and Southampton CCG – an act that having seen the evidence available to you, a governor described as very serious indeed.
On 23 June, you wrote a threatening letter to an ex-patient, which is full of implicit or explicit, demonstrable falsehoods. The letter is unlawful under The Data Protection Act 1998 and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, not only as a result of the inaccuracies per se but also in that you seek to prevent the data subject from responding to inaccurate data.
You also sought to prevent an ex-patient from assisting a seriously mentally unwell Southern Health patient in crisis, the Trust having threatened him with legal action and reported him to the police for alleged harassment. Unsurprisingly, the police are not taking further action and, following a private mental health assessment, which CRASH facilitated, his GP is referring him to a different NHS Trust.
As a result of your letter, a Responsible Clinician wrote to NHS Improvement on 18th July 2016.
“I was very concerned by the tone and content of Mr Smart’s letter to [redacted] on 3 June 2016 and the significant effect it has had on his health. [He] informs me that NHS Improvement appointed Mr Smart as interim Chairman of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. Therefore you have a duty of care to those with whom he has dealings.”
So your conduct is not only improper – it also is putting patients’ health at risk.
I quote the conclusion of leading academic, Professor Chris Hatton of Lancaster University following his astute and forensic analysis of your statement on 30th June:
“The sheer incoherent nonsense of this statement is obvious for anyone to see. The truth is there, and no carpet is big enough to hide it. Do we want the truth? We can handle the truth – it’s the health ‘system’ that seemingly can’t.”
[Editorial note: read Professor Hatton’s full paper here →]
Amongst your breaches of trust during your ‘comprehensive’ review, one stands out:
“In the last six weeks, I have reviewed all the evidence available.”
As we stated a few minutes ago, this is untrue … or you believe it is proper for directors to mislead other authorities.
On 8th July, the Trust wrote of your statement on 30th June inter alia:
“The Trust’s press statement made clear that Mr Smart has “initiated an independent Board Capability Review. The initial conclusions in respect of the board as a whole, and in respect of some board members, have been shared with the Trust Chair by the external company conducting this review, the substantive report for the entire Board is not yet in the Trust’s possession.”
On 30th June, you had stated:
“Following the outcome of the Board Capability Review, I am satisfied that….”
We leave the last word to Professor Hatton, who wrote on 20th July:
“Can’t decide if Tim Smart went native or it was all a stitch-up from the start (I’m leaning towards the second of these.”
These circumstances warrant several questions [to Mr Smart]:
1. Will you meet my group of bereaved families and complainants face-to-face at a neutral premises?
2. How can the Board Capability Review have an outcome if the external experts have not finished their job?
3. Will you apologise to the Minister of State, bereaved families and the BBC for misleading them on 30th June.
4. Are you proud to be on police records as requiring monitoring of your conduct?
5. Why can’t you handle the truth?
6. When will you carry out a diligent review of individual directors’ conduct?
7. Will you apologise on the record to all those you have offended?
8. Will you fire whoever drafted your letter to me of 23 June when I prove its serious inaccuracies?
9. Are you proud of allegations by a Consultant that you are damaging a patient’s health?
10. Will you do the honourable thing and resign as a result of the criticisms of your behaviour and as the signatory of a dishonest and unlawful letter?
[End of statement and questions]
Will we get a clear and unequivocal answer ? Don’t hold your breath – especially as the next Board Meeting is two months away!