After a bruising time at the pre-inquest hearing into the death of LB, this week’s battering for his mother, Dr. Ryan, and the rest of his family, came at the hands of the ‘Death Review‘; the independent enquiry into all the other deaths in Southern Health learning disability and mental health provision since 2011. This enquiry/review was requested in the ‘Connor Manifesto‘ and agreed by NHS England, which has commissioned Mazars‘ Business and Human Rights division to conduct it.
NHS England has been clear about specifying the nature of this review. It is to be an independent review, to include four aspects:
1. User, family and carer input;
2. A review of all deaths by looking at the records and investigation reports available
3. Assessment of the data from Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and comparison with that of other similar hospitals to check for anything that is out of the norm.
4. An expert panel to review all the information and make recommendations on any further action required.
So, to summarise: an independent review by an expert panel which will also make recommendations.
Not exactly. Monday’s meeting disclosed a fly in the ointment; a fly the size of a Madagascan hissing cockroach; a fly called a Blatant Conflict of Interest. The panel is set to consist of experts from – and I still can’t quite believe I have to type this – Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust; and Hampshire and Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Groups. The argument put forward is that the review of the deaths can still be independent, but the expert advisory panel (and its review) doesn’t have to be.
For genuine, stinking bullshit, that argument is right up there with suggesting to a Coroner that death by drowning isn’t violent or unnatural. What possible point can there be to an independent review of the deaths, if the review of the totality of the evidence, and the recommendations based thereon, can be as biased as Sloven cares to make them? I sincerely hope that Mazars will show some backbone and take a Coronial stance on the admissibility of the non-independent experts, but judging by the sulphurously sweary post-meeting tweets emanating from the Justice Shed, I fear the chances are not high. Dr. Ryan reports that the meeting ended in disarray, so possibly the fly and the cockroach were not the only spineless entities in the room.
I can’t help ruminating on the fact that medical practitioners were once known by the name of another invertebrate of which they made use: leeches. As a descriptor for the Slovens, it seems a perfect fit. Ever since they let Connor’s life leach away into the waters of his hospital bath, they have been trying to suck the vitality out of his family’s quest for answers and for justice, leeching on their resolve and the heart’s blood of their psychoemotional resources, in an attempt to maintain Sloven’s own bloated self-importance.
Justice for LB is still in fine fettle, but the Death Review appears to have died at birth, unless it can be revived by a complete exchange-transfusion of high-haem independence and iron resolve.
Dr. Ryan was also clearly irritated to exasperation by the jargon flying around, tweeting “And while I’m on the rage, I just want to say that we ain’t ‘stakeholders’ in any of this stuff. We’re the only ones with no vested interest.” Quite.
In Dr. Ryan’s position, I feel, the only stake I would want to be holding would be a Buffy-style, well-sharpened one: hardwood; bloodsuckers, for the impaling of.