Don’t spit in the soup!

There has been a lot of talk in the NHS recently about freedom to speak up. Read more→

By chance, a friend recommended this book – the inspirational story of Emma O’Reilly, arguably the most courageous whistle-blower of our time – having exposed the truth about Lance Armstrong and doping on an industrial scale. 

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The Race to Truth‘ tells initially of the stresses and risks of ‘turning a blind eye’ to doping;  the drive to tell the truth, which led Emma to go public; and the fury unleashed on her – but ultimately it is a story of redemption.

It should inspire NHS whistle-blowers, potential whistle-blowers and anyone with an interest in the duty of candour that should (but all too often doesn’t) exist in the NHS.

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Don’t ‘cracher dans la soupe’

This is the paragraph that woke us up to the relevance of Emma’s story to the NHS:

“There was a saying in cycling that you didn’t ‘cracher dans las soupe’ – ‘spit in the soup’: the unwritten rule that you just did not speak out. You do not disrespect the sport… so rebellion of any kind couldn’t be tolerated on or off the road. This was cycling’s omertà – its code of honour. You kept secrets. Those who spoke out risked facing the wrath of the rest of the sport, even of their own teams.”

This is a metaphor for the treatment of  NHS whistle-blowers – except that we’ve not yet heard of any NHS whistle-blowers being labelled a whore and a prostitute.

And without wishing to publish a ‘spoiler’ for those who wish to read Emma’s book, potential NHS whistle-blowers should consider one of her conclusions:

“I’d been brought up to tell the truth … and that in the end the truth always wins.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, or how little you seem, or how long it seems; what’s true is bigger than anyone or anything.” 

Emma also describes, “The sheer sense  of serenity” brought to professional cyclist, Tyler Hamilton when he told the truth after 13 years of denials, lies and cover-ups.

The Race to Truth should be an essential training tool for NHS directors and staff in relation to the statutory Duty of Candour. It is a cracking read for sports enthusiasts too.

And of further interest to medical professionals, over 10 years ago, Emma set up The Body Clinic Hale, one of the most successful private physiotherapy clinics in the North West, dedicated to providing services for the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of all types of injuries and their related problems.

Of course, it’s a great pity that Emma is ‘lost’ to the NHS. What are the chances of a whistle-blower with the courage to take on Lance Armstrong (and effectively the whole of the professional bike-racing community) being given a job in the NHS – especially after a human resources expert at the NHS’s ‘solicitors of choice’ described whistle-blower, Maha Yassaie effectively as too honest to work for the NHS.

‘The Race to Truth’ and Tyler Hamilton’s story, ‘The Secret Race‘ are available from Waterstones, all good bookshops and online: published by Transworld Publishers, part of the Penguin Random House Group of companies, whose Publicity Department has approved this blog post.

© Front cover photograph: Offside/Pressesports

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More Southern Health tragedies

 

 

Hampshire mother paid £260,000 compensation after finding her daughter’s body: no beds available. Read more→ 

Care-co-ordinator from Romsey Community Mental Health Team to Coroner after loving father found hanging at his home: “If someone needs a bed they will get a bed.” Try telling that to ‘Hampshire mother’ above (and others). Read more→

Family of Word War II hero seeks damages for allegedly, “A distressing and degrading ordeal [for their loved one] brought about by a catalogue of hideous errors.” Read more→

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COMING SOON:

Duck-billed platitudes¹

 

 

¹ Reference Professor Chris Hatton’s comments on one of Southern Health’s Annual Report and Accounts. Read more→

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Appraise a NED!

 

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NED and Daisy at the British National Ploughing Championship

 

What is a NED?¹ Take your pick:

Non Executive Director

No Effort Detected (UK medical)

No Error Detection (Computing)

 

 

 

Known by some as Non Effective Directors, the Council of Governors at Southern Health did not carry out annual appraisals of its NEDs in 2016 – despite the findings of the Mazars Review and all the other criticism in the public domain. The common thread to public questions at the Board Meeting on 31st January is here→ – ‘The Bad’.

This per se is indicative of an ineffective Lead Governor and Council of Governors. Effective governors were always in a minority; some subjected to bullying; and others resigned.

However, the current Interim Chairman shows promise and has undertaken to complete the appraisals by the end of his current contract, 4th Match 2017 we believe.

We are sure he would welcome evidence-based feedback from bereaved families and other campaigners as well as governors, especially as the majority of governors still appear incapable of holding NEDs to account. One governor wrote of the last Council meeting:

I have firm views on the role of Governors and do not see the governors fulfilling this at the present time. We also have a strange mix of people as Governors. Some seem very ineffectual.”

In short, we cannot rely on the majority of governors to do their job properly in assessing the performance of NEDs.

Dr Sara Ryan² has kindly agreed to publish her observations on the NEDs.sr-email

Anyone wishing to make constructive criticism of one or more NED, can contact the Interim Chairman’s PA at Southern Health or email comments to CRASH in confidence for onward transmission. (CRASH will not forward abusive, malicious or otherwise offensive comments and will not publish any comments without consent.)

Normally, we redact the names of ‘the good guys’ [and gals!] and leave in names of ‘the opposition’. In this case, Sara has agreed we can publish her name and we currently believe the Interim Chairman is a ‘good’ guy too so we do not put his direct contact details in the public domain. His name is already available on Southern Health’s web site.

1 To avoid confusion, in urban lingo NED can stand for a Non-Educated Delinquent.  

2 This blog is dedicated to the memory of Connor Sparrowhawk and recognises the fortitude and dignity of his mother, Dr Sara Ryan in seeking justice.

The good, the bad & the ugly

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THE GOOD

HOW TO HANDLE A COMPLAINT

IN ONE EASY LESSON

 

 

 

 

On 2 February, your scribe complained about a breach of The Data Protection Act 1998 by the Electoral Reform Services (“ERS”): it had disclosed personal data to Southern Health without the data subject’s consent. After some initial problems with junior ERS officials, the ERS CEO left a meeting at circa 15.50 hrs to talk to the data subject: at 17.32 hrs, she sent the following email to Southern Health:

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Error admitted – honest – final response checked with complainant – apology – problem solved – everybody happy – all in about 1¾ hours.

Are you listening Southern Health? You took 880 days even to honour the same data subject’s subject access request. 

And why was this so important? Southern Health did not trust your scribe to keep a promise. The words ‘pot, kettle, black’ come to mind.

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THE BAD

CAN YOU FIND YOUR CONSCIENCE?

 

 

 

There was a common thread to public questions at the Southern Health Board Meeting on 31st January, summarised as follows:

“Can the Executive Directors and Non-Executive Directors in post on 1st January 2016 [shortly after publication of the Mazars Review] find their consciences and resign?”

Similar points were made to the governors at the Council of Governors on the same day.

At the time of writing – the relevant EDs, NEDs and governors must still be looking for their consciences!  What a surprise!

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THE UGLY

FREEDOM TO SPEAK

 

 

 

 

Having attended the National Guardian’s event, we believe we wrote a report that was heavily in whistle-blowers’ favour but recognised the need to give Dr Hughes a chance.

Unfortunately, although whistle-blowers want freedom to speak up, some do not believe in the right for others to do so. I posted a perfectly innocuous comment on one whistle-blowers blog only to have it blocked and be told (amongst other things) by email:

“I neither sought nor expect any support from you.”

Is it not hypocritical for a whistle-blower to preach openness, honesty, transparency and fairness for fellow whistle-blowers whilst censoring fair comment by a patient representative? We pointed out that this blog does not censor comments, provided they are not defamatory, abusive or contain offensive language. We invited her to leave a comment – she has not done so!

She was more intent on finding out if Dr Hughes had invited us personally in order to criticise her. And all this from a whistle-blower who didn’t even attend the event.

Note to other whistle-blowers: we continue to support you and welcome your comments, especially potential and existing whistle-blowers at Southern Heath.

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THE EVEN UGLIER

HOW, AS A PUBLIC GOVERNOR, TO TREAT THE PUBLIC

 

 

 

When two members of the public tried to speak to Southern Health’s notoriously unapproachable Lead Governor, during the networking/lunch break between the Board and Governors’ meetings on 31 January, he asked the receptionist to call security!

Is this the same Andrew Jackman, who is Finance Director of Drew Holdings Ltd – a construction company, which boasts several NHS organisations in its client list – a point he fails to declare on his ‘Declaration of Interests’ at Southern Health? Surely not!

Is this the same Lead Governor who 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. Read more→