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The Ill Wind of 1000+ Learning Disabled Deaths

January 26, 2016

Sometimes I am accused of bad taste when I write a Committee Room Five piece for this blog.

After today, I think Committee Room Five is no more. Nothing in that fictional Newport Pagnellshire Majestum could ever come close to the stinking, festering tasteless suggestion from the latest Southern Health Board minutes.

Over the past few years, we have repeatedly heard Southern Health announce that they have learned lessons from the horrendous crimes they inflict on learning disabled people. Today, we can see that they have learned another lesson – how to make sackloads of money out of the disaster they have created.

Mencap have a representative on the Southern Health Board of Governors. Her name is Liz Hall. It should be good. The “Voice of learning disability” has an input and could offer an important insight in addressing the zillions of issues raised by the Mazers Report, Monitor, the CQC, Several Coroners, the Health Secretary, NHS England, etc etc.

Instead, the spokesperson for the “Voice of learning disability” chose to vomit all over the people she claims to represent.

I can’t write any more. I am too shocked and repulsed by this latest nauseating turn of events. I’m filing this post in an attempt to stop myself putting my fist through the wall.

Here is Liz Hall’s minuted contribution to the latest Southern Health Board Meeting:

“This sad affair with Connor Sparrowhawk has triggered off, at last, the enormous training issues that are still prevalent in society, including general hospitals, education establishments, training of the public, schools, the police force, etc. Shall I go on? However, it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good and indeed one feels that perhaps Connor’s parents can take some comfort from this tragedy that has at last shown up the enormous ‘gap’ in training that has been shown up. It’s not only in Hampshire and Oxfordshire – sadly it’s still there all over England and in many other countries in the world. So here is our opportunity to begin some very exciting training of the public, police forces, nurses, doctors, school teachers, social workers and above all hospital staff on how to communicate with those with learning disabilities and involve their families more effectively in their care and life styles which we as a health authority, along with the rest of England begin to understand how one communicates, protects, and includes more of us all in their lives. We have achieved it better with other groups or so called disabled people so let’s begin to engage in training – we could make some money out of it too.”

CoG 26.01.2016 Agenda Item 02 – Extraordinary CoG 05.01.2016    Page 6 of 19


And least we forget. This is what Southern Health consider award winning, top class training, worth every penny of £1m:


From → Social Care

  1. It leaves one absolutely speechless. Not only do we already have many community providers who already work properly with people who have more complex needs and also stay in through difficult times, who train and support and value their staff but the idea that anyone could make this statement when they are part of the group who have ignored the needs of individuals and resulted in so many deaths which they have NOT even considered let alone learnt from. It’s obscene… and they think they can make money out of failing to care properly….. Words really do fail one.

    • Trudy permalink

      There are LA’s who have staff groups who are so inured to just grilling vulnerable people , making them bear their souls in the hope of some support,,who long ago forgot that this (proper support’ ) is what the abusive grilling/’assessment’ is supposed to be about. They just fill the form in and file it. Other LA cultures are totally toxic and many of them are Counties. They record little if any complaints for people learned ages ago that it is a just a waste of valuable energy. These LA’s commission cheapest contracts and have few if any ocommunity groups who can any longer work. ‘Properly’.

  2. My jaw dropped when I read the last comment. People with disabilities are clearly there for other people to make money out of, and those people are meant to be representing them!

  3. Cinnamon permalink

    A travesty. Mrs Mencap’s attitude is disgusting.

  4. unbelievable, and not even grounded in evidence of what went wrong

  5. Helen permalink

    Scream – it will be that bloody useless endless crappy ‘training’ that organisations make zillions on. Click a have read button, bring in a tame carer or person with a learning disability for a milli second. What about moral fibre? Serious impactful respect and some huge big heads rolling right out of their jobs, like a smelly Stilton on a 1:4 hill. Hx

  6. Incoherent, incompetent and cynical. How does one hold these people into account? A raft of private prosecutions? Naming and shaming (assumes the ability to feel shame)? Public campaigns (38 degrees, Avaaz)?

  7. jennywalkabout permalink

    Repulsive. Just repulsive. From start to finish.

  8. yvonne5r permalink

    I had to read it twice and I still thought I’d read it wrong. So Connor’s family should take some comfort from the fact that Southern Health are contemplating making money out of learning disability training? Who in their right mind would sign up to be trained in anything by Southern Health, never mind the one aspect of healthcare that they have so spectacularly failed in? Audacity and arrogance are two words that come to mind, as are feeling sick and being furious. Well done Mark for highlighting this, thank you.

  9. Ye gods.

    Mind you, she’s not alone in her disgusting, self-exculpatory, profiteering attitude. :

    “I was disappointed to hear a BBC reporter using a rhetorical flourish that could have been lifted straight from the Sloven Manual of Duplicitous PR. Justice for LB has been calling out the ‘tragedy’ trope for eighteen months; and still is. Regrettably, I found the ending of the piece even worse: after alluding to Justice for LB and the LB Bill, it finished by saying that Connor ‘would not have died in vain if the NHS learns lessons from his preventable, untimely death’.

    That had me squawking at parrot pitch again. As did the question on BBC breakfast on Sunday about ‘what positive things have come out of your (Dr. Ryan’s) experience?’; the questioner was clearly angling for a triumph-from-tragedy story.

    Listen up, and listen well, folks, because here is where I lay it on the line for you.

    There ARE no upsides to losing a child. The unnecessary death of a young man is not something that has positive aspects, spin it how you like. Connor’s death WAS in vain. His death was pointless and neglectful and preventable and appalling and couldn’t-care-less and just plain wrong in every respect. Nothing, nothing, can redeem that.

    He was sacrificed, not to some greater good (as if any good, however great, could merit such a sacrifice) but to organisational cheeseparing and the vanity of clinical and managerial staff. In their egotism, certain of them refused, and still refuse, to acknowledge, or even admit the possibility, that they were in error of any kind. Some, like the psychiatrist Valerie Murphy, mulishly insist that they made correct decisions at all times. Others, like the Chief Executive Katrina Percy and Medical Director Lesley Stevens, make media-friendly, reputation-gilding, unforgivably tardy non-apologies or half-apologies; all of insulting inauthenticity.

    But even if these monstrous egos could be deflated and brought to genuine remorse; even if every Health Trust and Local Authority in the country learned the lessons of LB’s death and put them faithfully and carefully into immediate practice; even if LB Bill were to be passed tomorrow and fully implemented the day after – Connor’s death would STILL be in vain.

    Simply, it shouldn’t take the unnecessary death of a young man to prod organisations and people into doing the right thing. It shouldn’t need that, and it certainly isn’t worth it. Connor should still be here, living a good life the way he wanted to, *and** they* *should* *be* *doing* *the* *right* *thing* *ANYWAY*.”

  10. Pauline Thomas permalink

    Perhaps the small local Mencap’s should think about leaving the Mothership, because I do not recognise this crass behaviour from the staff in the Mencap in my borough.

    The people sitting up in Golden Lane have simply lost their way. They have become sycophants . They no longer speak for people with LD. They are more interested in their business model and how they can make even more money. To think that Mencap was started by a group of dedicated parents who wanted the best for their children. It bears no resemblance to the ethos then of campaigning and making sure the governments of the day recognise the needs of people with a learning disability. They now have simply crawled into bed with the powerful ones, frightened of losing their grants which in turn have made them powerless when it comes to fighting for the rights of people who rely on them.

    • Totally agree Pauline. I bet the people at our local Mencap would be sick to their stomachs.

    • Government, now owns, particularly large charities, so they do the governments bidding, and are not independent, though sadly, people think they are.

      They also, owe their overriding duty to themselves, not those they purport to represent

    • Mary O'Toole permalink

      Re Mencap: when I visited their HQ a few years ago to interview their Arts Officer as part of my MA in Cultural Heritage at UCL, I was told something I hadn’t previously realised: that there had been a ‘schism’ (their words) some time ago, whereby Royal Mencap (the HQ bit) became separated from the branches: indeed if you look on the charity commission website under ‘Mencap’ you will see that Mencap includes many individual charities individually listed (although they must still be affiliated) These are still doing ‘real stuff’ at the local level; running social clubs & activities etc. Mencap, like so many learning disability charities, was originally set up very simply, by a parent to provide a respite service to meet a crying need; not as a national campaigning body running sexy stuff like Little Noise Sessions (not that these aren’t useful too, but has there been independent evaluation of their impact/usefulness?) It seems to me that campaigning, ‘though necessary, is possibly best done via grassroots, not from expensive offices, and is somewhat easier for professionals to tackle than providing deeply unsexy grassroots stuff that people really need. Local govt has largely stopped stopped providing services: I understand an assumption behind all recent policy post Valuing People is that voluntary organisations were better at this, and so state money was better spent supporting these. However big charities are now dropping services too, like hot bricks: for example Mencap shed Pengwern Hall recently: Scope is closing many homes. Impact assessments are a tool that seems not to be used when these bodies decide to change their business models seemingly unilaterally and against the wishes of their beneficiaries.

  11. Lizzie D permalink

    We can make money out of it! The more deaths, the more learning, the more training, the more money. Brazen, of course, but not just that. Morally bankrupt. Unbelievably stupid. Her role in Mencap is what? How much money has she made out of what sounds like a lifetime of this.

    Can we make sure that this hits Mencap where it hurts – their bank account? With representatives like these, no wonder things don’t get any better.

    Beyond sickening, but outrage isn;t enough. Can we get it painted on a billboard, and stuck on the side of a bus, or something? These people have no shame, but they are not invulnerable.

    • Every time we see a post from Mencap plugging their services, or their fake call to arms, we should reply “Liz Hall. Ill wind”.

      • When you deconstruct the ‘ill wind’ proverb, (as I am sure Ally Rogers could do far better than I) it’s actually saying that if you can get an advantage from the ‘wind’, then it isn’t ‘ill’, isn’t a bad thing: quite the reverse. In effect, she is saying that LB’s dying was a GOOD thing.

        A GOOD thing because Connor’s death lets Sloven point at everyone else and say, “They’re just as bad”. A GOOD thing because Sloven, having been first to get caught out over their non-care of people like LB, in death as in life, can now claim to be ahead of the curve and in a position to lecture others. A GOOD thing because that lecturing can be charged fat fees for, the profits of which may help Sloven recoup some of the money they had to lay out on funding expensive legal people to (fail to) tell theory untruths convincingly about that pesky Sparrowhawk lad.

        I don’t doubt that other Sloves thought it. But she said it.

      • Spot on.

      • Well, when you can do what you like, you can say what you like, and charge what you like.

        The agenda is yours.

  12. Amanda B permalink

    I was involved with mencap for many years via gateway clubs and local societies and there were many good people involved but those at corporate level have had questions to answer for many years. The final comment has made me so angry

    • nic permalink

      Can’t help thinking that comment about money making came out all wrong. If the lady has been involved for decades in fund/awareness raising she will always be on the look out for opportunities. I just know that my elderly relatives minuted thoughts would probably echo hers, something along the lines of what good can come from this, heartbreakingly inappropriate but she may have messed up articulating herself. Time for a special thank you and cake.

  13. lisa permalink

    Good grief! Are they actually admitting that they are all about the money?
    Every one of our loved ones is a cash cow. Its all just one big profit to them all.

  14. How could Liz Hall say a thing like that ? Shocked.

  15. Sally permalink

    Am I wrong to think Liz Hall would not have said that if Connor had been a neurotypical young person?

  16. Weary mother permalink

    Letter with signatures seeking explanation and response from Mencap. Also stating they do not any longer have the right to advertise for business in our sons and daughters name? Their business brand is a lie.

  17. Sickeningly bad taste. I am appalled.

    Best wishes Shirley Moodie

  18. B Fitzgerald permalink

    My son has XYY syndrome he has been treated like an animal from day 1 by the very services afforded to him like the local counsel L.B.C. the social service always offered a service that never arrived and if it ever did arrive it was always too little too late and took no affect and the only reason it did come at times was to cover up for the lack of work that was to be done in the past. They told me that they would help me and him to live normal lives this was untrue as they only wanted to put another kid on the books all they done was abused him psychically / emotionally / and sexually they covered it up. At12 years old he did not have a mark on his body today at near his 31 birthday you can’t see his body for the amount of self harm and again they have moved him to Rampton Heigh Security prison Hospital to hide him for the rest of his life. My son is only where he is as a direct result of of so called professionals covering up the damage they have done to him. I am not asking anyone to just believe me without evidence I have lots of that also I would like you to look at Pie and Mash films by Bill Maloney . thereis many more like another one of his is called Sand Sea and Satan this will emplane how sick our so called professionals are. I have to say please make sure no children are watching Bill Maloney’s as He swears a lot as he was once a victim and he feels his sister was killed as a result of his work to try and sut him up

  19. ‘small(ish) is beautiful’ anyone who looks at my Twitter feed knows I’m always banging on about #ItsTheAnthropology ; humans evolved in small tribe sized groups..up to 150. (Robin Dunbar ) Anything above that size means we lose face to face and begome rule-led. IMO this explains why bigger organisations simply can’t do care /support properly. Bigger organisations could organise themselves into 150 sized pods…but most don’t. Until social care theorists take the findings of evolutionary anthropologists/neuroscientists like Dunbar et al seriously we can’t make progress. Applies to all corporates. Would be interesting to look (academic hat) at size of those smaller Mencap groups that actually still do stuff at grassroots. I’d guess they weren’t bigger than the magic ‘Dunbar number’ Anyone want to sponsor my PhD?

  20. R Woodward permalink

    There is such a thing as standards in public life, this “woman” fails so miserably at so many levels morally and professionally,could somebody involved make a formal complaint ?

    • Who to? Mencap have already issued a distancing statement and there’s no point complaining to Southern Health.

  21. Rebekah permalink

    We can’t complain to anyone but we can complain at Liz Hall and Mencap. So many people have to deal with them despite not liking them. Maybe Mencap could be boycotted and a new service made with the old Mencap principles if the current powers that be won’t resign. Only we would have to emphasise that the creation of money is only for giving an optimum service to those who need it.

    • B Fitzgerald permalink

      When I asked Mencap for help I was told my case was too complex ,,, It was only become complex because organisations like Mencap refused to get involved that was because they a piss in the sane bucket

  22. Shirley Buckley permalink

    Mark – you are right – who to? There isn’t a single complaints procedure in the country that works – I know from experience. It is not even possible to get to the European Court of Human Justice. If you are the parent of a vulnerable person, you are fucked

    • B Fitzgerald permalink

      Yes Shirley I agree. The system is run by people who do give a dam for the reasons below , They are only in it for the money / they are ill trained / they do not know how to write up a report and they just write anything to make it look like they done the job / Then you have the cover ups and corruption and lies, Then when you have a meeting with all the professionals without the carer /parent present . Then you are called in after they have discussed what they have already what they have talked about behind your back when in fact nobody in that room knows about your loved one your input is never heard and if you shout about it you are dysfunctional , Social Service +Education + and Doctors need to stop clubbing together and stop covering for one an other that’s also to be said for the legal profession who get Legal Aid all they seem to do is write letters and tell you little bits here and there , Also they also use the Data Protection act:to manipulate and cover up , If the government can lie and cover up what is to stop other so called professionals doing the same

  23. Pauline Thomas permalink

    Royal Mencap stopped listening to the carers and families of people when Valuing People was rolled out. Actually the true ethos of Valuing People never ever completely got rolled out in the true sense of the word. A truly wonderful White Paper which promised so much but gave so little. Hijacked by organizations who saw a way of expanding their businesses.

    It may have benefitted some people with LD. I have read the PR. I have read the success stories. Unfortunately all the people who fell by the wayside or slipped through the cracks were quietly never talked about.

    Getting the FOI on how many people in my borough that suffered mental illness after the services were changed, cut or disappeared was easy. They had risen dramatically. The hard part was getting anyone in power to recognise the damage done to vulnerable people.

    Royal Mencap could have, and I thought would have, organized FOI’s to all the Trusts dealing with any fallout from the changes in services. That way they could have seen if this was happening across the country. The only response was ‘These figures could mean anything’, They did not want to look. Along with the government and the DOH, they preferred to bury this news in case it harmed their image.

    I can only sympathize with Liz Hall’s remarks because of her great age and because she too knows the hardships that come with looking out for someone close to you who has a learning disability. However had she never uttered those crass remarks about making some money out of what was Sloven’s criminal care of LB and all the others too, Mencap would never have denied her the way they did.

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