Many times since I’ve been involved with JusticeforLB I’ve found myself recapping the days events in my head with disbelief. Yesterday was the best of times and the worst of times. Sara published her recap of the day What a difference a day makes just as I was going offline for the evening, a taster:
Debates in both the Commons and Lords earlier today demonstrate remarkable and unusual cross party concern, horror and engagement…. [LB would] have probably found the media coverage and parliamentary debates fascinating and important. Repeatedly (and I mean repeatedly) asking ‘Has the Mazars review been published, mum?’ and ‘Why not, mum?’
There are many things I respect, admire, quite frankly love about Sara and LB’s family, not least the fact that it always comes back to him. I had the privilege of staying with them while LB’s inquest was on and it felt like every ounce of pain and hurt from that utterly gruelling process was counterbalanced with the extreme love and laughter of LB’s family. Not just counterbalanced but outweighed by it, so even in the midst of something so awful, no-one ever forgot why and who it was about, and remembering LB (which don’t forget stands for Laughing Boy) led to much laughter, and joy even, ultimately I guess it’s fuelled by love.
Love begets love. I guess it’s cultural.
So back to last night, as I was putting my phone down a tweet came in saying ‘have you seen this’, followed by another, and another and a couple of DMs. It turned out that Katrina Percy, ‘the beleaguered CEO of Southern Health NHS Trust’ (a quote from the BBC News) had decided to speak to the media. Having avoided all comment for two days she decided to issue a statement to ITV news, at 10:30pm. I guess the late issuing meant that she thought she’d be off the hook for the evening news and that she probably hoped everyone would shuffle on now and leave her to her business. You can read her statement on the ITV website here.
This is classic Katrina Percy territory, when the report into LB’s death came out in Feb 2014 she spent weeks dodging the media. You can read more about that, and the context of Southern Health’s non-apologies in this forensic blogpost Questioning Southern Health’s future fitness for purpose from last year, by Rich Watts. There are many other similar blog posts about this issue, and lots about the language used by the CEO of Southern Health. I’m not going to offer detailed commentary for once, just my complete and utter disbelief at such a (further) display of contempt.
Here is what Katrina Percy said when asked if she felt her and her Board members should resign:
It is my job and that of the Board to continue to lead on the comprehensive programme of improvements which we have been making over the last 18 months.
When asked whether she felt her and the Board had let down the most vulnerable members of society:
We apologise to anybody who feels let down by any aspect of our service.
When asked what she wanted to say to the families of the 1,454 people who died unexpectedly:
I say that we have already made significant improvements to the way we report and investigate unexpected deaths, and are working extremely hard to encourage other organisations to do the same.
My job to lead: it’s all about me.
Do you feel let down? How foolish, I mean come on chin up, it’s all your responsibility if you’re moping around feeling let down (if you’re alive at all)
We’ve made improvements: It was getting a bit crowded with the thousands of bodies under the carpet so we’ve got involved with a vanguard programme to smuggle some bodies into the community.
We’re working extremely hard: If only the bloody patients and families would get out of our hair
To encourage other organisations: Always, whenever in doubt, paint yourselves as leaders; come on guys, we’re award winning, we can move the spotlight from how shit we are onto how much better we are than someone else.
Yesterday it appeared that Southern Health was trending on Twitter. I don’t usually take much notice of such things, I’m never really sure how they’re measured, but I’m fairly certain that the Sloves wont let that detail get in the way of an opportunity to spin things. I bet by the next Board papers they’re reporting on the success of their social media strategy, after all they were trending.
It is very rare for me to be lost for words. Yet time and again I read stuff that Katrina Percy has said and I’m genuinely at a loss as to whether it’s incompetence or malice. Whether she’s training for an alternative career as a spoof artist. Whether she actually listens to anyone, including the many many consultants that they’ve employed to advise them on their PR over the years.
I come back to the same point though, this is a woman who is legally accountable for Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. This is a woman who is proud of her leadership skills. This is a woman who considers that she’s working really hard to do the best she can. This is a woman who appears incapable/devoid of empathy, but worse than that, who seems wedded to contempt. Contempt for patients, for family members, for journalists, for pretty much anyone who dares to challenge her. This is not how to lead. She is a liability.
Contempt begets contempt. I guess it’s cultural.