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The Unspoken Safeguarding Issue

January 1, 2015

Yesterday, a stalwart #LBBill campaigner tweeted that she had asked her MP to get behind the #LBBill. The MP’s response was that there is already adequate legislation in place to meet the aims of the Bill but what is needed is better delivery of that legislation. He has a point.

Over the past few days, Ive spent hours collating all the feedback from the #LBBill Facebook group. The group is very buzzy, so it’s a mammoth task. One theme that crops up time and time again in the comments is the call for a greater safeguarding emphasis in the Bill. At first I found this confusing because the whole Bill is about safeguarding the rights of people.

And then the penny dropped. What people are asking for is safeguarding from the professionals who make decisions about our lives. Safeguarding from the professional safeguarders. They want a watertight piece of legislation that doesnt go the same way as the Mental Capacity Act & the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, where the State can chose to ignore or manipulate the legislation.

How does this happen? Is there any other arena in life where a substantial piece of legislation can be so routinely ignored with such dire consequences? Is there any arena where there is no mechanism to routinely check on the legality of a bodies’ actions (or inactions)? And perhaps most crucially is there any other arena where people can break the law and have no sanctions applied whatsoever?

I received a fine from HMRC for an error on my direct payment tax return. I couldnt plead ignorance. Nobody was interested in my explanation. I had erred and there were consequences to that. Compare that minor indiscretion to the way the State wrecks lives through not following legislation. Even when a court decides an unlawful act has taken place, there are no consequences to the perpetrators of the unlawful act.

The State spends an absolute fortune defending the indefensible. We have seen that with gut wrenching regularity throughout the #justiceforlb campaign and the deplorable actions of Southern Health. It happened again at the Nico Reed inquest. There will be no sanctions applied to the commissioners who created hell for the Dyer family. In a much more minor way, I experienced it in 2013 at the humiliating housing benefit tribunal. I turned up on my own and Hillingdon arrived with a top notch barrister who proceeded to make mincemeat of me. It was a lower tier tribunal! But money was no object.

Sara Ryan, every couple of weeks, will ask how the Southern Health disciplinary process is going (its taken 18 months and still no news). Sadly, it feels increasingly like pissing in the wind. The untouchables. No responsibility. No accountability.

My partcular bee in my bonnet is with commissioners and these ridiculously secretive Panels who make life changing decisions for people with no accountability at all. Nobody scrutinises their decisions. And when they get it wrong, it is down to families to fight for justice against overwhelming odds. That cannot be right.

This is why I understand people’s fears that even when (not if) #LBBill becomes law, it will go the same way as all the other social care laws and be ignored or abused. We mustn’t let that happen, so in preparing draft two of the Bill, we have to address this major flaw in the legal processes for physically and learning disabled people.

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From → Social Care

7 Comments
  1. I didn’t mention this in my latest blog entry because I thought it would open a whole can of worms and expose me to “conspiracy theory” accusations, but there is a pattern in that the state looks after its own and ensures people are never punished except when they act outside their duties. It is the same when a police officer kills a member of the public who is obviously innocent and minding his own business, as with the case of Ian Tomlinson; the policeman who killed him was caught on camera but still let off. I believed then and believe now that the trial was a sham. I suspect the trial of the officer who killed Azelle Rodney will go the same way.

    Time after time, coroners find excuses not to blame individuals, high- or low-ranking, for the avoidable deaths of patients in NHS care, whether it’s in mental health, learning disability or anywhere else. Take the case of Kane Gorny, who died because nurses would not simply provide him with the water he needed because of his condition. They treated him as a young man who was acting up, refused to believe him and would not even look at his notes which would have demonstrated that he was telling the truth. The coroner blamed “the culture of the NHS” and not a single individual was disciplined. In the case of Nico Reed, it is known that the neglect started as soon as he moved to that unit, but the coroner narrows it down to the night that he died when they didn’t check on him every 20 minutes while he was asleep, which obviously would have made it more difficult for him to sleep.

    I identify with what you say about ordinary people having to pay the price for their failures and not members of the professions. As a truck driver it’s drilled into me that I’m responsible for making the the vehicle I drive is roadworthy and that the load is secure. If it’s not, and I’m caught, I could get fined. If some of the load I’m carrying falls onto the carriageway and someone gets injured, I could lose my licence or go to jail. If I make a fuss about an issue of this nature, I could lose my job (or have to walk off if a boss doesn’t take my concerns seriously). Yet when a ‘professional’ makes a decision that affects someone’s life, he is given the benefit of the doubt even when the decision is obviously wrong and he benefits in some way (such as by getting an ‘annoying’ patient out of the way). Responsibility is generally used as a euphemism for power, but the test is: will you pay the price if you make a wrong decision, and someone suffers?

    They are also all in each other’s pockets and dependent on each other for favour or future employment or promotion, so they will not openly say to a patient “this other doctor was plain wrong, abusive or malicious”. This is why the “two doctors have to agree” form of safeguarding against abuse doesn’t work, because the second doctor may well have to rely on the first one for a reference in the future. My cousin is just about to finish four years of orthodontic treatment to correct the effects of bad orthodontic treatment in her teens (where they pulled out teeth when they didn’t need to), and the first orthodontist she saw this time fitted her with a splint which kept her mouth open and prevented her using her front teeth, which she was expected to wear for a year. After two years of his treatment, he was locked up for practising without insurance (although there were issues about his actual treatment as well). The second practice she went to told her that he did things differently so she would have to start from scratch and that he woudn’t have done it that way, but would not say outright that the first orthodontist was simply wrong about everything and, for example, give her evidence for any legal action.

    As for the people who abused Claire Dyer, we know their names and we know where they work. It is not difficult to find out — I did it with a bit of Google work. I am not sure if the family are preparing a complaint against them. Naming them may prejudice such a complaint, but perhaps also the family fear that they may have to deal with these people again in the future.

  2. If you’re a praying person or a politically active person, better spend morning noon and night between now and May down on your knees, or up on your feet and aut knocking on doors, to do everything you can to ensure that after the election we don’t have a Justice Secretary who thinks that JR and similar protective legal procedures are simply a nuisance to him and his chums that can be readily dispensed with.

  3. ruth permalink

    This also applies to the GMC and the CQC.

  4. Shirley Buckley permalink

    I dont think there is any answer to this – Ive put in complaints, been to every Ombudsman there is, contacted every organisation, fought it through 8 years in the Court of Protection, taken the judge on head to head, Im now at the Court of Appeal (without a lawyer)and I have been faced with nothing else except unsullied power. I am appealingon my son’s behalf, and the judge insists the respondent must be the Official Solicitor who he appointed as my son’s litigation friend. In the judgment the judge wrote the OS’s case on Martin’s behalf was a “shambles”. Wish me luck and do the praying as well

  5. Weary Mother permalink

    1. Assessments and reviews that do not reflect true needs or costs
    2. Annual only monitoring that covers only contract and and cost
    2a Agency support with nil monitoring by them and/or commissioners
    3. Real independent advocacy for very vulnerable very trusting people – looks like?
    4. Safeguarding Process is?…..in context where LA ‘s and agencies can ignore/avoid taking
    serious issues to the process?
    5. Ombudsman experienced as ineffectual and too chummy towards LA’s etc.
    6. CQC as above no real clout?
    7. Safeguarding in above context? Looks like?

  6. Sally permalink

    I think part of the problem is that when you fragment a service out you also diffuse responsibility. Once a service has been handed over to the trustworthy private company and their superb standards the Government have no responsibility to see what they are up to. Which suits them just fine. If deficiencies are brought to their attention, they might-might-withdraw the contract.The private companies can’t really loose.
    There must be clear legal accountability for the outcomes but also for the monitoring. I want the negligent neglectful staff in the dock and I also want the person who was meant to check what they were up to alongside them.

  7. The secretive panels are what I hate the most- anonymous people make random life and family changing decisions on your behalf- half the time you are not informed when your case has even gone to Panel, and sometimes you aren’t even told the result. And when you do find out (after a million phone calls and emails) there is no explanation for the decision. There is no transparency, no accountability, and they wonder why families get angry and frustrated…. It’s so hard to HAVE to put our (and our childrens) lives in their hands.

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