Fishing in muddy waters


Fishing in muddy waters


CRASH has been fishing in the muddy waters of the NHS for a few weeks and has come up with some potentially stinking fish – and one fresh one.


Flash Gordon

Let’s start with Southern Health’s Chief Operating Officer, Dr ‘Flash’ Gordon, who wrote in March 2013:


 “As a doctor, you get a one-to-one reaction with the patient. I still do it and it can be addictive, an instant hit, very rewarding.” Read more →

Is there anyone out there, who got the impression that Flash finds talking to patients rewarding?

29 June 2016: Tim [No-so] Smart signs an NHSI Enforcement Notice, which included the requirement for an external review of capacity and capability:

NHSI Enforcement Notice 1.6

30 June 2016: Smart announces results of his Board Capability Review, having apparently done everything agreed on 29 June within 24 hours! Perhaps he is ‘smart’ after all.

4 July 2016: NHSI writes:

“We fully appreciate that the trust needs help to improve quickly and we are providing that help, working closely with the CQC and Healthwatch, whose role it is to represent the views of patients.”

8 July 2016: The Trust’s story was more in line with the NHSI enforcement notice in admitting that Smart had only “initiated” the Board Capability Review. Read more →

22 July 2016: Southern Health announces that its LEaD (Leadership, Education and Development) team, has been awarded a Quality Mark from the National Skills Academy for Health (NSA), which ensures staff: 

“Are able to continue to [bold added] provide a high quality standard of care to your patients and service users. The Skills for Health Quality Mark is awarded to providers of training who have met high standards expected by the healthcare sector.”

So the care provided in the last five years by Southern Health is the highest standard we can expect in the NHS?

28 July 2016: the deadline for Southern Health’s Mutually Agreed Resignation Scheme (MARS). Southern Health whinges about challenges in terms of funding, costs and structural change but states:

“The Trust is committed to continuing to provide a high quality service to our service users and commissioners, and to following sound business-like practice to remain secure as a successful health care provider.”

High quality service and sound business-like practice – the acronym is apt: what planet are they on – MARS?

Despite constant references to staff shortages and closure of wards, Southern Health asks staff to consider, “Career or lifestyle changes” and offers help, “To facilitate this transition”, i.e. to leave!

9 August 2016: ‘On the ball’ journalist, Hannah Somerville of ‘The Oxford Mail’ reports that Southern Health governor Peter Bell reports the Trust to the police for alleged harassment in trying to force change and voicing his concern. He said: 

“I thought asking questions was my job. All the public governors are generally of the mind that something needs to happen. The board needs to changed.”

And Oxford East MP Andrew Smith says that only “radical action” could restore the public’s faith in Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust following yet more bad publicity. He goes on to say:

“As I have said in Parliament and to the Secretary of State for Health personally, it remains extraordinary that, after all the deaths and independently documented failings of the trust, its chief executive and medical director remain in post.” 

And after pointing to, “Blatant unfairness on staffing and pay policy” Mr Smith asserts that Southern Health is not fit for purpose, adding:

“Governors like Peter Bell are there to speak up for the public interest in a safe and caring health service. It is shocking but par for the course that he is now coming under such attack from Southern Health for doing just that.”

Read more →      and then click here to email your support to Peter.

12 August 2016: bereaved families, carers, service users and governors meet Hampshire Healthwatch in the Lakeside Room at South Winchester Golf Club.

S. Winchester Golf Club


Hampshire Healthwatch confirm they had not been involved in providing patient feedback as NHSI claimed on 4 July.



19 August 2016: Southern Health secures funding to improve care for adults with severe mental health problems who need to be cared for in a secure setting. Dr ‘Slippery’ Stevens of course is, “Delighted” and adds:

“The new model of care is very much focused on safe and effective treatment, organised around each patient’s needs, supporting their journey to recovery and reducing the risk they might pose to others.”

Is this not exactly what Southern Health should have been doing with taxpayers’ money for the last five years? 

19 August 2016: leak from Southern Health – Chief Operating Officer, Dr ‘Flash’ Gordon is becoming an NHSI Improvement Director and Sandra Grant, Director of People and Communications, is off for six months.

So take a (non) performing COO out of a (non) performing Board, on which the CEO’s operations role has been reduced, to become a (non) performing improvement director elsewhere and take (what normal people call) the Personnel/Human Resources Director out of a Trust, which has serious recruitment problems.

That’s not so Smart – or is it a plot to bring in an over-paid Interim COO – exactly what happened after the problems Smart left behind him at King’s. Read more→ 

22 August 2016: Another bereaved father shocked by the family’s effective exclusion from an ‘independent’ investigation writes:

“If user engagement is at the heart of the organisation’s ethos then I suggest they find a good cardiologist because they are suffering heart failure.”

If there’s one thing you need (even as bereaved parents) in taking on Southern Health is a good sense of humour! He goes on to write:

“I am even more focused on outing these people than I was before. What worries me though is how far the rot goes and who you can trust.”

Southern Health certainly knows how to win friends and influence people!

23 August 2016: Healthwatch England suggest that Healthwatch Hampshire speaks to NHS England (Wessex) who operate a Quality Oversight Committee, which is currently holding Southern Health to account with regards to their actions relating to the Mazars Review and subsequent inspections. NHS England, NHSI, all Hampshire’s Clinical Commissioning Groups as well as SH attend the meetings. 

Does anyone know what’s going on in relation to Southern Health?

  • On 4 July 2016 NHSI think they are working closely with the CQC and erroneously with Healthwatch (but no mention of NHS England or the CCGs).
  • On 23 August 2016, there is no mention of Healthwatch or the CQC.

Perhaps there are too many fish in the sea.

Should we be asking if there are any Freemasons and Members of Common Purpose in this cabal – oh, we’ve found two already at one of the CCGs.

MISSING PERSONS? And who is missing from all this consultation?


Bereaved families, carers and service users, public governors & Healthwatch, who are supposed to represent their views.

And yet, the Enforcement Notice Smart signed on 29 June 2016, included another requirement:   

NHSI Enforcement Notice 1.5

Who’s kidding who?

And to complete the fishing analogy – the fresh fish?  

Healthwatch Hampshire, commended in the 2016 Healthwatch Network Rewards, have agreed a plan of action to ensure that the voices of victims of Southern Health are heard – that’s if anyone else connected to the NHS wants to hear them.

Healthwatch Award



Dropping the ball!



It appears that Jeremy Hunt has ‘dropped the ball’ on Southern Health since Alistair Burt resigned.




There have been some amazing stories lately of greed and failure but perhaps the most alarming news is the implications of a letter from the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, to a Member of Parliament about one of his constituents, who feels seriously mistreated by Southern Health in recent months. 

SoS to MP p1 001

SoS to MP2 001

To extend the sporting analogy, he is clearly ‘not up to speed’ on developments (or lack of them) at the Southern Health. I note Smart has assured Mr Hunt, “Of his commitment to the highest standards of governance and transparency.” Anyone involved in or with knowledge of Southern Health would find this laughable if not so serious. He does not know the meaning of transparency. Read more here

One wonders also if Mr Hunt is aware of Not-so Smart’s record of success [?] as Chief Executive of King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, from where he resigned in 2015 without returning from sick leave, leaving an allegedly struggling Trust with a £42.5m deficit; issues with A & E waiting time targets; and concerns that patients were waiting too long for elective treatments. Subsequently, Monitor took regulatory action. Read more about the difficulties at King’s here →

Then read ‘The Daily Telegraph’ here for the resultant cost to taxpayers – in salaries alone!

And it is not as if Jeremy Hunt cares about learning the truth: in responding to a challenge to his views a Department of Health spokesman wrote:

“The advice I received from senior officials in the Department is clear, any information you or anyone else has about Southern Health should be passed to the Regional Director for NHS Improvement. The advice was clear that the Department does not have a role of commenting on or second guessing decisions made by NHS Improvement.”

In short, Monitor [NHS Un-improvement] appoints as Interim Chairman of Southern Health a person, who it knows has a history of failings, to turnaround another NHS Trust with even more serious failings and the Department of Health turns a blind eye.