A Hearty Breakfast

Yesterday, I was enjoying a fantastic respite night out at one of the Heathrow hotels. It’s months since I had a respite night away and the swim, spa and nice bar was most welcome.

However, some random Twitter viewing mid evening left me a nasty dose of indigestion. Have a read of this blog post from Sir Stephen Bubb – http://bloggerbubb.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/the-winterbourne-view-concordat-and.html

Confused? Me too. NHS England boss “Simon Stevens was clear that only the third sector could deliver the promise and he wanted me to look at a plan for “co-commissioning” between the NHS and my members”. What is not clear at all to me is where all this fits into the Winterbourne View Joint Improvement Programme. Bill Mumford, the chair of the JIP resigned last week. Is the JIP dead?

It would seem not. A reliable source messaged me to say that the plan entrusted to Sir Bubb is only a small cog of the overall improvement programme. Not that you’d know it from Sir Stephen’s blog. Just count the number of “I” statements. And he’s already convened a power breakfast to get things going. It may be ego talking but from the blog, it reads like the whole plan was drawn up over a hearty breakfast. These diners must wear capes and their underpants over their trousers.

Incidentally, food seems to be where it’s at for Sir Stephen. Here is a section from his Wikipedia profile: “Stephen Bubb came under scrutiny in August 2013 after it was reported that his 60th birthday bash in the House of Commons had been partly financed by his own charity, ACEVO. Despite the charity paying him a salary in excess of £100, 000, he still felt it was fine for the charity to cover some of the costs and stated “seemed just right to celebrate my 60th with a tea party in the House of Lords on Monday!”

Leaving the breakfast table and the tea parties aside though, the blog reveals an attitude that makes me sweat and sigh for the outcome of the review. The narrative is so self promotional that it is hard to see where the people that the review is meant to be helping, the 3000+ people trapped in institutions, register on the importance scale. They hardly get a look in on the blog. There doesn’t seem to be much of a drive to hear their voice. Or the voices of their families.

I also find it disheartening that this group is just a small cog in a much larger wheel. How many small cogs are there? How do they all fit into the larger wheel? Ironically it sounds like the very people tasked with sorting out one of the big social care scandals have set up a machine that is remarkably similar to the one they are meant to be investigating and changing. Most people who need to use the social care systems will have stories of the bloated hierarchies and systems they have to wade through like marshland to get a care assessment completed and a care package put in place. The layers of systems are so dense, it becomes impossible to see the big wheel of social care. As one of my clients puts it: “You use up so much energy and time focusing on the slightly out of place ornament on the mantelpiece whilst a tornado approaches your house from the outside”.

So. Lots of talking. Lots of self congratulatory statements. Lots of new systems set up. Possibly, more necessary cogs will be identified and set up. More long review documents will be published and may get a five minute slot on Radio 4. ACEVO will feel really chuffed with themselves. And……

I’d just like to ask the latest members of the latest cog, that next time they are tucking into blueberry muffins, cured ham and a selection of regional sausages, that they remember that there are still over 3000 learning disabled in institutions many miles from their homes. And that, despite all the cogs, there are still more people moving into these hellholes than are moving out.

Alka Seltzer anyone?


5 thoughts on “A Hearty Breakfast”

  1. When I started my job years ago a very fine guy asked me what I was going to do
    I said I had to get my team together
    He said ok but remember every day you do that someone is eating paper and fitting in their own urine
    I never forgot what he said and from that day onwards I knew people couldn’t waste their lives whole I enjoyed mine
    Why is it any different now?
    It just pisses me off that anyone can go home knowing what they have failed to go for someone

  2. Pass the Rennies.Really, at the very least the man should be aware of the gravity of the situation and knock off the self congratulation and hearty brekkies. We need some grave, determined clear heads on this who keep the enormity of their responsibilities to the disabled at the forefront of everything. This guy sounds more like Mr Toad.

  3. I share your anger – which is getting stronger by the minute. Who does this guy think he is addressing in this bland piece of self-congratulation? Parents who see their children suffering and deteriorating? The “patients” themselves, rendered powerless?

    Charities ran the workhouses – and the people involved were also pretty pleased with themselves. Yes, we have, after a fashion, moved on. But mix the charitable impulse with large organisational structures and a government that seems to see no problem with a return to 18th century attitudes and this doesn’t look like progress to me. Is my daughter a citizen with the same rights as others, or a supplicant, who has to be content with what is given?

    In theory, large organisations like Mencap ought to have the expertise – and no doubt individuals involved may well have some of the right ideas and attitudes – but as organisations invested in their own survival they have to be suspect. I fear this isn’t about what needs to be done, but about how it can be made to look as if things are being done, with responsibility for failures shifted away from the government.

    In my experience, ordinary people who don’t have a clue assume that those who need help get it. They support the “genuinely” disabled. Reading something like this, a meeting of the great and the good, they will take it at face value. Problem solved, no more Winterbourne Views. Us? Shoved out of sight.

  4. Steve Bubb was once a councillor in Lambeth Council.
    If you know anything about Lambeth Council then Mr Bubb’s, (titles given by other humans with their own flaws are meaningless in my book), jolly at charity / taxpayers expense whilst getting his fat salary should come as no surprise. The press not too long back reported Lambeth residents as the angriest in the country- not much of a surprise then.

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