A Smile, A Shrug, A Sob & A Stab

Southern Health have obviously decided on a new tactic over the past couple of weeks. I doubt it will be discussed at their board meeting next week but I’m pretty sure it’s been discussed by many of their great and good behind closed doors. The CEO, Katrina Pearcey, in another car crash interview this week said that she wanted LB’s family to meet her ” as an individual and as a CEO”. She talked about her “devastation”. And she casually mentioned that from the very beginning, Southern Health have been waiting for a dialogue with the Ryan family and that offer is still on the table when they have been through the “grieving process”.

Southern Health statements don’t stand up to any deconstruction at all – you get a couple of mini farts and the statements die in an abyss of management crapspeak. But here, in a few orchestrated words, KP has suddenly become the victim. She is an individual who is suffering as a result of LB dying on her watch. (Suffering but reminding us that she’s a CEO in case we forget where the power lies). And the family have become an unreasonable obstruction. Obstructing KP and Southern Health in their “grieving process”. In the week that the incredible #107days was launched – a campaign that is and will have an enormous impact on the pitiful state of adult social care – there is also the slightest hint that Sara Ryan is becoming a little unstable in her grief. Southern Health have chosen to stab, but cloaked by a smile and a shrug and a sob.

I encountered this spin shite back in 2011. All of Hillingdon’s court statements presented me as a stroppy, unco-operative, unreasonable father who was blind to the realities of Steven and Hillingdon’s attempts to act in his best interests. I had got my son all wrong and I was resistant to their analysis of who he is. Worse than their picture of me, in order to get their own way, they presented Steven as a dangerous, unboundaried psychotic.

One day during the High Court inquiry, I was sitting outside the court eating my lunch and was approached by one of the journalists who had been in court. We instantly liked each other and chatted about the events of the week. Then he showed me the infamous press release that Hillingdon issued the day before the hearing started. I now know what he was trying to do – he was leaking it in the hope that I would pass it on the barristers, who would bring it to the attention of the judge. Unfortunately, I’d had 18 months of Hillingdon’s spin of Steven and I guess that I had become deadened to their language and presentation of him. It was shocking but I wasn’t shocked, so I did nothing about the press release, except throw it in the bin. On the final afternoon of the hearing, the journalist took the bull by the horns and handed the press release to the barrister, who along with the official solicitor, hit the roof. But that was nothing compared to the judge’s reaction. He re-entered the courtroom, slammed the statement down on his desk and said: “I am dismayed at this grandstanding”. He called the council’s press officer into the witness box and discovered the press release had been authorised by the director of adult social care, the borough solicitor and the head of corporate communications. It had come from the very top. Here’s what Justice Peter Jackson had to say on the matter in his final judgement:

“On 20 May 2011, the eve of the hearing, Hillingdon circulated a three-page media briefing note to most of the national media. The document was designed to counteract adverse publicity that Hillingdon has received, and against which it had not attempted to defend itself. Nonetheless, it is a sorry document, full of contentious and inaccurate information, and creating a particularly unfair and negative picture of Steven and his behaviour. I learned about the document by chance on the last day of the hearing, expressed dismay, and asked for an explanation. I am told that it was authorised by the Director of Social Care, the Head of Corporate Communications and the Borough Solicitor. It is now accepted “in hindsight” that an error of judgment was made in issuing the briefing note. That is indeed so, though again hindsight has nothing do with it. In addition, Hillingdon has unreservedly apologised to the court. That courtesy is appreciated, although an apology for the document is in truth not owed to the court but to Steven and his father.

I also note that Hillingdon has done its best to undo the situation by contacting every recipient informing them that I had directed that no part of it should be published in any circumstances. Again, I appreciate the intention behind this, but I should make clear that I gave no such direction. The only control that this court has exercised over reporting about Steven is in the form of the very minor restrictions on the reporting of the hearing itself, as referred to above. Other than that, the media will cover the story in whatever way it chooses, and no doubt it will continue to respect Steven’s need to be left in peace, as it has done since the hearing in February.”

They tried to shaft Steven but got regally shafted themselves.

Why do they it? What are Southern Health hoping to gain by presenting a picture that surely everyone can see through and be appalled about?

I suspect that if you inhabit Planet Southern Health (or Planet Hillingdon) you see nothing but yourself. Your planet revolves around your own narcissism. You think you are teflon coated and if anything happens to challenge that, the challenger must be destroyed. LB is nobody and nowhere in any of their public statements. The organisation is all that matters.

Or perhaps, they really just believe their shit.

9 thoughts on “A Smile, A Shrug, A Sob & A Stab”

  1. If they truly believed their shit, they wouldn’t feel a need to feed it through a PR-speak tripe-spinning machine prior to offering it for public consumption. They’d have the confidence just to say what they believed, honestly and directly.
    When you hear non-answers, evasion, replies-to-a-different-question and bending of facts to fit into a pre-determined view, you can be confident you are hearing the sound of mingled arrogance and arse-covering.

  2. I have joined the 107 days. What appalls me is the lengths that these people will go through to discredit and sully names. One of the attempts in the 2 people I am working with was to discredit the brother and publish his name on the Internet and to try and cause the mother to lose her job. The letters I see are the most defensive and practised I have ever seen. We are nervous of rocking the boat so much that it cuts across who we are trying to help. But the 107 days will help us grow in confidence. That’s the plan.

  3. Does the name Nick Relph mean anything to you re Hillingdon (NHS mainly) I have lots of info on him. Contact Dee@Speers.org.uk if needed. My family also have experienced much injustice following the death of my son (in hospital) and I recognise a familiar pattern in all you write about! I have been trawling NHS Complaints for almost 9 years….and anything I can do to help, I will!
    Stay strong!

    1. Hands up everyone who knows the name of the Chief Executive of their LA? What about the Chairman? Where are they when the very very bad things happen ……for we get to know name of the Director downwards etc……..but where should the buck really stop in the LA? However truly bad the scandal in the NHS we see the name of the CE?

      1. Above is the comment held back for moderation. Why I wonder? It is quite innocuous?

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