I wanted to write to wish you luck in your new role as Chair at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. It’s no easy task, to try and turn around a Trust that has consistently flouted common sense and common decency for a couple of years now.
I was pleased to hear you’d been appointed Chair, several people whose opinion I trust rated you. I decided that I would reserve judgement and give you the benefit of the doubt. When you published your Welcome Message I was pleased to see you mentioned patients three times, for the last two and a half years I’ve paid especially close attention to Southern Health Board minutes, minutes from the Council of Governors, and their press releases and patients are rarely mentioned!
I’ve spent hours of my life learning about Southern Health, what they do well and where they could improve. I’ve spoken to scores of families with very mixed experiences. I’ve read countless CQC reports, action plans, Prevention of Future Deaths reports. I’ve represented Connor Sparrowhawk’s family on two investigations (Mazars and Verita 2), I’ve attended Board meetings and I sat through every minute of Connor’s two week inquest. I’ve sent over 37 thousand tweets and engaged in hundreds of discussions about the #JusticeforLB campaign and how patient care for learning disabled people and those using mental health services could be improved.
Alongside that I have wasted many hours of my life in disbelief, frustration and hurt at the way the management and leadership of Southern Health have treated bereaved families, Richard West and Sara Ryan being just the tip of an iceberg of pain. I can not tell you the number of times I’ve put my faith in humanity, only for it to be knocked back again.
Last week when you announced the Governors Meeting to be held in Lyndhurst tomorrow I set about making arrangements, changing existing appointments, planning travel (I live in Devon, approximately 3hrs away from the meeting venue if you drive, 5hrs by public transport) and perhaps most importantly making you a gift!
Inspired by the Craftivist Collective, I thought I’d personalise a handkerchief for you. I picked colours I know you wear (google is a wonderful resource), an Anita Roddick quote that I hoped might inspire you, and spent hours carefully and lovingly stitching it (I’m an amateur, it takes even longer than you might imagine). I don’t envy you your task, and I wanted to support you in a small but thoughtful way.
In your message you said:
I will talk at length with the Council of Governors, who represent patients, and who have a voice in the appointment of most of the Board. And through the Governors, I will talk with patients and their families, who will be front and centre to the conclusions that I draw.
Tim, please don’t miss the opportunity to do this tomorrow. Patients, families, the general public are all willing you on in your role. I’d love to meet you and give you your good luck gift. I’d like to witness bereaved families who have been treated so badly, receive reassurance in your leadership. Please come along and talk to us, cut out the middle man, talk to us direct.
Please don’t blow this opportunity,
Yours in hope