“Our services are now safer”

Nick BDr Nick Broughton: 

Nick joined Southern Health in November 2017 as Chief Executive. He was previously Chief Executive at Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Nick is a psychiatrist by background and has worked as a Consultant in Forensic Psychiatry since 2000.

Having commented previously on Mr Justice Stuart-Smith’s sentencing in R v Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, it is equally important to recognise Nick’s good intentions and the enormity of the task he faces. He started well: in the words of Sara Ryan, Nick:

“Held his hands up to say ‘fair cop’ and accepted systemic failings between 2011-2016…. Broughton’s statement included open acknowledgement of the way in which we’d had to fight for justice and how wrong this was.” 

In Southern Health’s public statement after the Hearing, some of Nick’s words were even stronger: 

“Their [TJ and Connor’s] deaths were avoidable, entirely preventable and should never have occurred.” 

He also had the good grace to credit all those who have contributed to the changes at Southern Health:

“Crucial to these and other improvements is the contribution from many families and individuals dedicated to bringing about change. Whether working alongside us, or indeed as campaigning activists, their courage, dignity and insight is making a difference and deserves recognition.”

Also to his great credit a person, who attended Court, alleged that Nick told Trust’s Counsel to shut up when he asked inappropriate questions of Sara Ryan. A welcome change from the lack of ‘guidance’ to Counsel by another Director at a recent Inquest.  

Without apportioning blame, we pose the following questions about the Trust’s statement. They mainly result not from concerns about Nick’s leadership but from doubts about the ability and willingness of some senior and subordinate leaders, still in positions of influence at the Trust, to embrace change fully. For example:

  1. Is it too early to be sure the Trust is a safer place?
  2. Nick recognises the contribution, courage, dignity and insight of campaign activists and others. What steps will the Trust take to ensure all senior and subordinate leaders reciprocate by treating activists and others with respect and dignity?
  3. Many other families lost loved ones as a result of Southern Health’s version of ‘care’: some did not even have the ‘benefit’ of an Inquest. How will the Trust ensure such families do not feel ‘left behind’ by these two high-profile cases?
  4. Does the Trust agree that, although Teresa and Connor’s deaths may have been  catalysts for change, the Trust did not cause the change by self-disclosing incidents to the HSE? For example, a third party reported Teresa’s case to the HSE – almost three years after the event. What steps will the Trust take to remedy this?¹  

Regardless of these ongoing requirements (or perhaps because of them), CRASH is confident that most of those recognised in the Trust’s statement will continue to provide constructive criticism and assist transformation, wherever required. 

Our recent post about the Sentencing Hearing commended Mr Justice Stuart-Smith’s wisdom in setting a well-balanced penalty. Not being present, we were unaware of his ‘bedside manner’ (pun irresistible) but can now quote some of Sara Ryan’s thoughts

“A judgement so drenched in sense and fairness it was extraordinary to listen to. 

“The sensitivity and commitment of the Judge, Bernard, the HSE team and the media who attended (many of whom have followed the campaign over the years) were also extraordinary. Kindnesses that will stay with us. 

“Mr Justice was spot on with his ‘just and proportionate’ outcome.

“[I hope] those more widely implicated [at Southern Health] will absorb some of Mr J’s sense, fairness and integrity and now speak out.”

And that links nicely to Sir Winston Churchill’s description of the Battle of Egypt:

55274608 - statue of winston churchill in parliament square

 

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of  the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

In short, our ‘work’ in respect of Southern Health has not yet ended but we hope that this week’s events mark the end of the beginning of its transformation.

 

 

 

FOOTNOTE 1 – Making life simple in the NHS!

68957027 - which arrow points to my office

 

 

Always keen to complicate (whoops) simplify life for NHS employees, from 1 April 2015 our leaders complicated simplified reporting Health & Safety incidents by splitting responsibility between the CQC, HSE and Local Authorities.

 

 

Now, rather than just ‘phone HSE (not that Southern Health did so very often), there’s a Memorandum of Understanding to read (and no doubt meetings to be held) just to decide who to contact!

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Real Justice at last – £2,000,000

Stuart-Smith-J-Photo

Mr Justice Stuart-Smith

“Commendable”

“Well-balanced”

“Exactly right”

© Crown Copyright

 

 

The tabloids (aka ‘red tops’) often criticise our Judges for lenient or excessive sentences.

In R v Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, which relates to the preventable deaths of Connor Sparrowhawk and Teresa Colvin, Mr Justice Stuart-Smith had the difficult task of balancing the gravity of the offences with the effect of a heavy fine on the treatment of future patients.  In your scribe’s opinion, Mr Justice Stuart-Smith’s sentencing was commendable, well-balanced and (in the context of the evidence presented to him¹) exactly right. He concluded:

The end result is reached by reference to my overall conclusion on totality grounds that the aggregate fine to be paid by the Trust is one of £2,000,000. In my judgment a just and proportionate outcome that marks the seriousness of the Trust’s offending, the terrible consequences of that offending, and the other material factors that I have indicated is as follows:

a. On the TJ Charge, the fine will be £950,000.

b. On the Connor Charge, the fine will be £1,050,000.

c. The Trust will pay the Prosecution’s costs in the sum that has been agreed.”

The Judge’ full sentencing remarks are available here→.

Whilst those who inhabit Pollyland and favour Crown Immunity for the NHS will no doubt have a good whinge at the level of the fine, other bereaved families, surviving ‘victims’ of Southern Health and campaigning activists, who have witnessed the dreadful events of the last six years, will realise that £2,000,000 (plus costs) is entirely justifiable.

£2,000,000 pales into insignificance compared with the vast sums of money wasted, for example: on ineffectual leadership training; legal fees in defending the indefensible; and Consultants, whose recommendations the Board generally ignored anyway.

In the context of the Trust’s expenditure during the same four years, the £2,000,000 fine is peanuts. Yes, it could have been spent on patient care but so could the £5,000,000+ Percy spent with an acquaintance on clearly ineffectual leadership training for current and future bureaucrats. Read ‘The Value of Life’ here→ and ‘The talented Mr Martin and viral impact’ here→

Percy Cleaning Loos

 

It’s a shame that the culpable CEO (Katrina Percy) did not have to stand in Court during sentencing; could not have spent a few weeks as a guest of Her Majesty; could not have been set to work for a year in a ‘Hi Viz’ jacket  cleaning Southern Health’s loos; or perhaps all three!

However, even if this could have been done legally, it would be very difficult with this printed in the Trust’s 2016/17 Annual Report (page 57):   

 

“Payments for loss of office – Information Subject to Audit”JD re KP credit 002 [Information about other officials redacted)JD re KP signature

Quite why Julie Dawes was minded to put her signature to nonsense such as, “Katrina was fit to lead” (I know!) is a complete mystery: she knew exactly how Percy had failed. HM Treasury must have misplaced their collective brain in considering it an appropriate use of public funds. ‘The Daily Telegraph’ described it as, “Scandalous Largesse.”   

¹  We have some reservations about statements made to the Judge by Counsel and about the Trust’s press statement but these are for another day. We do not wish to detract from the wisdom of Mr Justice Stuart-Smith.