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Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Latest Update from Southern Health to Request for Investigation

Well, the Government and Southern Health may have shut down for Christmas, but campaigners have not!

Before I do have a short break, I wanted to provide this update.

Below is the response from the Company Secretary (my emphasis added), following up my earlier request, and my follow-up that I would expect meetings to be called immediately given the gravity of the situation.

I also asked for the details of the Council of Governors meeting, and said that I want to ask questions of the governors and Trust Board. I also asked permission to record the Governors meeting - this request has been refused by the Chair. Our understanding is that the new regulations that apply to councils and other public bodies, do not apply to NHS foundation trusts.

So I have gone back to them with this:
"I wish for the same questions that I wish to put to the Council of Governors, to be put to the Trust Board.
Regarding recording of the meetings, I am disappointed to hear that the Chair will not allow recording. There are new regulations requiring local authorities plus many other public bodies to allow recording.
Even if this is down to the discretion of the Chair, I would have thought the Chair would want to encourage openness and transparency. But it appears not. To clarify, I only wish to take an audio recording."
Can I please encourage people to attend? Perhaps they are going to need a bigger venue than they are used to!

I understand that Michael Buchanan of the BBC has already indicated he will be attending the Trust Board. I will be inviting other media.

Let me know what you think of the below (either by email, Twitter or posting below).

And if you are having a break, enjoy it and come back refreshed for the campaign.

Best wishes,
Andrew

---

Dear Mr Pope,

Thank you for your further email.  With regards the timing of calling extraordinary Board and Council meetings; the report into Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust was released by NHS England on 17 December 2015.  Our governing documents routinely require that we provide five clear working days before each meeting.  As such, and recognising the important topic, it was agreed that it was pragmatic to wait until after the Christmas period to convene these meetings so as to ensure maximum attendance of Directors and Governors at their respective meetings.

Indeed, we are currently ascertaining availability of Governors to attend on 5 Januaryas it is essential that we are able to hold a quorate meeting (the Council is not able to convene to conduct business if this is not so).  We anticipate publishing the details of this meeting (time and venue) on our website by Thursday 24 December and would be happy to email you with this information once agreed.  I note from your email that you also wish to put questions to our Trust Board; there is an extraordinary meeting scheduled for the Trust Board on 11 January 2015 at 08:30.  Again, we are in the process of confirming final arrangements, but can send you this information as well in due course.

In terms of recording the meeting(s), I have discussed this matter with the Chair, who has not agreed to this request.  We will however be happy to send you the formal minutes of the meeting(s) once these have been approved.

If you wish to ask a question of either the Council of Governors, or the Trust Board, I would strongly encourage you to submit this in writing (via governors@southernhealth.nhs.uk or trustboard@southernhealth.nhs.uk).  For information, I have attached guidance from our website that relates to the rights of members of the public to ask questions of the Trust Board.  I have already noted down the previous question relating to the discussion relating to SIRIs that was recorded in the draft minutes of the meeting held on 27 October 2015 considered by the Board on 1 December 2015. 

If you have any further queries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and I will look to respond to these.

Monday, 21 December 2015

My Research into "How Democratic Are NHS Foundation Trusts?"

Here is the "abstract" or summary of the research that I conducted in 2009-2010 as part of the Masters in Global Politics that I completed at the University of Southampton. I interviewed around sixty people.

National Health Service (NHS) Foundation Trusts (FTs) were brought in to allow a degree of autonomy from centralised Whitehall control, along with a degree of local governance, modelled on traditions of co-operatives and mutuals. 

This research assesses how democratic the arrangements for FT governance are. Interview and questionnaire responses, from individuals selected from politically engaged groups, were assessed against an analytical framework of democracy. 

Content analysis software was written specifically to aid the categorisation of the interview and questionnaire texts against this framework. 

Overall, comparing positive evidence against negative evidence, respondents felt that democracy was generally lacking in FTs. Also lacking were important aspects of democracy, including accountability, popular control, inclusion, legitimacy and considered judgement. There was insufficient evidence to be conclusive about transparency and efficiency. Assessment of local involvement was positive and generated significant support for FTs. Local autonomy also motivated significant support for FTs. 

Taken together, this evidence indicates an encouraging appetite for local involvement and autonomy in FTs in theory, but the practical implementation of FTs has not met theoretical expectations. This evidence is backed up by the theoretical literature, and by predictions made by commentators when FTs were new. 

Lessons can be learnt from the literature, from the evidence presented herein, as well as lessons from before the NHS existed. Finally, suggestions for future policy and research are made.

If you would like to know more about the research, please get in touch.

Following the research, I made a number of recommendations, including on policy. I am campaigning on those recommendations, and on NHS governance.

Let me know your experiences of how foundation trusts are run. I would also be interested in hearing from other researchers, particularly in the light of failings of governance, such as at Mid-Staffs and Southern Health.

A Deeper Investigation into Southern Health Failures is Needed Now


Despite attempts to silence me as an opposition councillor by the Labour councillors running Southampton City Council, I have taken action to investigate the failings at Southern Health described by the Mazars report commissioned by NHS England.

I have joined the Justice for LB campaign, who have responded by supporting my actions to instigate changes at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, including requesting a deeper investigation to be instigated by the Council of Governors and Trust Board. This was last week, as follows:

Good Evening,

I request that the Council of Governors works with directors and the relevant Nominations and Appointments committees to conduct an investigation as to how and why the draft minutes of the 1st December 2015 Trust Board stated that the Performance Director responded that there were "no major concerns" when challenged by a Non-Executive Director on SIRIs, as quoted below.

I would also appreciate a statement from the Trust as to whether the Chief Executive, the Trust Board and Council of Governors supports the view minuted.

As this issue is now of national importance, and has drawn the attention of the Health Secretary and Parliament, I and the residents, patients, carers and families of Southampton would appreciate an urgent response, preferably by the end of this week.

Kind regards,
Andrew Pope

8.15. Jon Allen, Non-Executive Director, enquired as to whether there were any Serious Incidents Requiring Investigation (SIRIs) that should be brought to the Board’s attention. Chris Gordon confirmed that there were currently no major concerns but that the SIRIs reported still required to be fully investigated. Della Warren referred to paragraph 27.5 which indicated an increase in the number of falls and suggested that this be the subject of a ‘deep dive’ by the Quality & Safety Committee. Sandra Grant noted that the Service Performance & Transformation Committee had noted the increased number of falls and sought assurance as to whether this was linked to staffing levels. She assured members that this was regularly reviewed by the Director of Nursing & Allied Health Professionals and reported to the Quality & Safety Committee.
I also urge you to write to the Council of Governors with something similar. They can be emailed at governors@southernhealth.nhs.uk. Unlike other Foundation Trusts, you cannot email them directly (I have checked). I have also:

  • Sent a series of questions about Southern Health to the Chair of the Southampton Local Safeguarding Adults Board (at the time of writing I have had no response)
  • Studied a wide range of documents from Southern Health, in which some of the claims made are hard to believe
  • Written to my MP Alan Whitehead requesting support for the campaign (at the time of writing I have had no response)
  • Referred back to the research I conducted in 2009-10 on the governance of NHS foundation trusts. The weaknesses of these structures, and those working in them, do not seem to have improved. As many people have found, it can all come down to individuals. More details on the research are here.
  • Spoken with the BBC, who wished to interview me, but scheduling concerns changed their priorities
  • Read the appalling media releases sent out by Southern Health in response to both the leaked report and the final version of the Mazars report

Please note that I have NOT called for the resignation of anybody, although this is tempting considering the continual failures documented in the report, especially when the coroner complained to the Trust time and again over a protracted period.

We have heard a lot of claims of being "sorry" by the Trust.

We have heard a lot of claims of lessons being learned.

But we now need an investigation into how this happened, and who was individually and collectively responsible for acting, and not acting.

Then action can be taken against those who have failed the patients, carers and families of so many people in the care of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Friday, 16 October 2015

UPDATE 6: Yes, I am still opposed to the new Test Lane plans



This week I submitted my third, yes THIRD, objection to the proposals to develop the field at the corner of Test Lane and Gover Road.

The chaos at the last Planning Panel left residents, the media and councillors very confused.

I have met with the developers and local residents on two occasions since then, but only three topics were discussed - those topics that were ordered by the Panel when they "deferred" the application.

The minutes of the Planning Panel meeting, which do not describe the chaos that ensued, state that these 3 issues were:
  1. traffic issues, in particular measures to limit the impact of traffic entering and exiting the site to and from the south;
  2. the attenuation pond within the proposed public open space; and
  3. the timescale for the provision of open space.
Whilst there was significant and constructive dialogue on these three issues, the vast majority of the other issues that I raised in my previous two objection letters, have still not been addressed. This is despite my raising them with the developers and officers of the Council.

Therefore I am forced to object, and I will be attending the next Planning Panel on 27th October at 6pm. The agenda will be published by Council officers at this link, a week before the meeting.

See you there!

All the best,
Councillor Andrew Pope

Saturday, 1 August 2015

UPDATED: Southern Electric: Again Instruments of Darkness?

UPDATED (25th April 2017): Southern Electric are annoying Redbridge residents again. I will give an update in due course.

---

Good to see that Southern Electric listened to the problems Councillor Andrew Pope raised following the power cuts in Christmas 2013, and Cllr Pope's pushing for improvements in them working with the Council, for which he was nominated for Councillor of the Year.

They've come a long way since. Good work.

Friday, 31 July 2015

UPDATE 5: Test Lane - I'm Still Against the Plans

As I've laid out before on this blog, (e.g. here) I've done a lot of work opposing the plans for the field at the junction of Test Lane and Gover Road.

I visited the site again yesterday.

I have objected to the proposals, and have asked to speak at the Planning Panel this Tuesday night to outline my objections.

A large number of local residents are still opposed to the plans, as reported by the Daily Echo.


Saturday, 6 June 2015

Labour Council Isn't Protecting Southampton

Here's my letter published in the Daily Echo today, following the shameful revelation that the Labour Council is paying a fortune to consultants after 3 years of cutting jobs and services:

Reading your front page piece yesterday, I hope you can see at least some of the reasons why I did not want the role of Cabinet Member for Transformation at Southampton City Council.

The Labour-controlled Council is facing huge cuts to Government funding, and as I said in my recent In My View piece, in 3 years it hasn't innovated or provided strategic direction to protect the vulnerable and services. Instead it always blames the Government.

Why is the Council paying out a small fortune to consultants when it is proposing "being realistic" about cutting jobs, and at the same time pays huge salaries to the Chief Executive and senior officers?

Where are the ideas and innovation from them, or from Cabinet members, in order to protect the vulnerable and services?

Or is it really the case as Cllr Hammond said:

"we don’t have the experience of large-scale challenges like this"

Then why are the Cabinet members, officers and the Leader in place, if they don't have the experience? It's their job to innovate - wasn't the Labour Council elected to do this?

The Southampton people deserve better.

Councillor Andrew Pope
Independent Councillor for Redbridge

Another Pub Protected - The Second in a Year!



VICTORY! Andrew Pope Protects the Fleur de Lys Pub at Pilley - and Celebrates With Locals!

Our campaign with local residents to get the Fleur de Lys pub officially recognised as a community pub, at the heart of the area, has been successful. 

This means that the local community will have a right to bid to own and run the pub, if it is put up for sale. It also gives the pub protection in planning law. Andrew Pope said:

"We already knew that this pub has been a key part of the Pilley and Boldre community for many years, with customers coming from near and far."

"New Forest District Council has now officially recognised this, following the petition that we asked local people and people across Hampshire to sign."

Fellow campaigner Denise Wyatt said:

"This pub can now stay at the heart of the local community for many years to come, and we will be organising a celebration at the pub soon."

"We would like to thank everyone who supported our campaign, including pub campaigner Toby Perkins MP (pictured above) and most importantly all local residents in Pilley and Boldre. It is their pub, after all."

Friday, 5 June 2015

I'm STILL opposing TTIP - are your MEPs?

I have pushed back on TTIP in several ways, campaigning locally, nationally and in Europe.

Today I was emailed by Going to Work from the TUC.

They've produced an email campaining tool for TTIP, making it easy for people to hold their MEPs to account.

Here is the email I sent to the 10 MEPs in the South East. Feel free to re-use it - I believe it's an enhancement on their suggested email text. The first two paragraphs are my additions.

I remain very concerned about TTIP, and the weasel words and obfuscation used by MEPs to try to hide their actions and inactions. I've been in touch with several, and their officers, this week. The complexity of the EU enables them to hide - but if European citizens hold them to account, they cannot hide.

To their credit, some MEPs are trying to engage with citizens over TTIP - long may that continue. But they need to make the EU clearer to voters, otherwise with the complexity of the EU, this enables the enemies of the EU to misrepresent what is happening - and the voters to make up their minds based on inaccurate or incomplete information.

And that might lead to Britain leaving the EU (Brexit)...

Best wishes,
Andrew

----

Suggested email text:

TTIP is a microcosm of all that is

wrong with the EU - secret,

unaccountable, remote and over-

complicated. These things mean that

UK voters don't trust the EU, and

don't understand it, even more than

they do already.

Please - MAKE A CLEAR STAND AGAINST

ISDS and privatisation. Don't hide

behind bureaucracy and complexity

of the EU, like some MEPs have

tried to this week - and then blame

others for misrepresenting their

actions and inaction.

When you vote in June on the

European Parliament resolution on

the Transatlantic Trade and

Investment Partnership (TTIP),

please make sure it protects the

people you represent.

This is a crucial opportunity for

the European Parliament to hold the

European Commission to account and

make clear that they must negotiate

trade deals in the public interest,

not for private profit. TTIP poses

significant threats to democratic

decision-making, public services,

and the rights of working people,

consumers and the environment.

Please support a resolution on TTIP

that requires the Commission to:

defend workers’ rights; protect

public services; remove ISDS and

special courts for foreign

investors; and maintain all

regulatory protections for workers,

consumers and the environment.

I look forward to your confirmation

that you will support these

objectives in the forthcoming vote.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

UPDATE 4: STILL Opposing Test Lane Development


This morning, having looked at the new version of the plans for the Test Lane/Gover Road development, I have submitted another objection.

This adds to the comprehensive objection that I submitted in January to the first version. This contributed to the developers thinking again.

Whilst the developers appear to have listened to some of the concerns I raised on behalf of local residents before, I still do not think they have engaged properly with residents or me as their Councillor.

Amongst the many concerns that remain are on the ecology of the area affected, (it's next to a wildlife reserve), as well as the sustainability of energy, noise and air quality.

It is a shame that the developers haven't sought to involve me more, even though I have offered.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Liberated from Chains of Failing Labour Group

In My View in Today's Daily Echo

Thanks to the Daily Echo for allowing me to state why I’ve resigned from the Labour Group of councillors at Southampton City Council. It’s a decision that I agonised over.

Having broken free, I now feel liberated from the chains of a Labour Group of councillors that is failing Southampton. The Labour Party is failing people across the South. Don’t just take my word for it. That’s what the voters brutally told Labour two weeks ago.

On the World this Weekend on Sunday, the MP heading up the review of Labour’s defeat, Jon Cruddas, stated that “arguably, it’s one of the great crises of the Labour Party’s history.” I agreed on the same programme – the South resembles a sea of blue with a few specks of red – like Labour’s seal pup ripped up by the Tory killer whale - horrific but nonetheless instructive.

This Labour Council has had three years. But there has been a lack of vision, a lack of strong leadership, and a lack of sufficient generation of revenue and municipal enterprise that could help save services and jobs. It’s been done by other councils, Labour, Tory, Lib Dem – but not in Southampton. Why?

A Labour Council should NEVER cut services like libraries in areas that badly need them, like the Redbridge ward that I represent.

A Labour Council should be able to protect Sure Start services as well as keeping centres open.

A Labour Council should be able to get funding to regenerate Southampton’s Council estates.

A Labour Council should be able to protect disabled bus passes.

But it has failed, because it hasn’t innovated or been led correctly. The job of a Leader, Cabinet and Executive is to provide strategic leadership, for Council officers to advise and carry out as instructed. That hasn’t happened. And it’s about to get a great deal worse under this Tory majority Government.

I will continue to represent the people of Redbridge ward as vigorously as I have done over the last four years, whether the Labour Party remains “in control” of Southampton City Council or not.

Andrew Pope, Independent Councillor for Redbridge ward

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Resignation from Southampton Labour Group

As reported in the Daily Echo, on BBC Radio Solent, and on Radio 4's World This Weekend, I can confirm that I am now an Independent councillor for Redbridge, having given notice on Thursday afternoon to Southampton City Council's Monitoring Officer, as soon as he had confirmed the procedure. 

A week is a long time in politics, and a great deal has changed during the last week, not least the huge vote against Labour in the South. 

Sadly what hasn't changed is the approach of the Labour council in Southampton, as I confirmed from my very worrying conversation with Leader Cllr Letts on Wednesday, when he offered me a Cabinet position. 

Indeed his and successive (revolving door) Cabinet members' sustained and continuing lack of revenue generation and municipal enterprise for the City, and desire to work for the people of Millbrook, Maybush and Redbridge, were major factors in my leaving the Labour Group before it does more damage to Southampton and its people. 

I can have no part in it, if I am true to my conscience, and my job to represent and protect others.

Like many others have, I could have taken the Cabinet role I was offered, and the allowance, and just kept my head down, selling out the people of Southampton to party politics that leads to destruction instead of objectivity.

I couldn't be part of it in a failing Cabinet and failing Labour Council.

It is failing in many ways, not least because the Aims and Values in the Party rules for Labour Groups are not being followed. As I said in my interview on BBC Radio Solent, these are:

"To work constructively in their local authority for real and sustainable improvements in the economic, social and environmental well-being of the communities and local people they represent."

The Labour Council has now had three years to do this. They have failed to promote the Labour Aims and Values, and they have failed to protect services for the people in the area I represent.

Instead, they have continued to bungle, and make chaos in our great City.

Just look at the roads! Chaos caused by the inadequacy of the Labour Council.

Look at the bungled removal of adult social care that has lost Labour votes.

Look at the changes to Sure Start that are turning Labour supporters away.

Look at the bungled way that the Test Lane proposals have been handled.

Look at the Millbrook and Maybush Regeneration project that has lost Labour votes, through no fault of my own, because of how it has been mishandled - despite my best efforts to advise privately for the Leader Cllr Letts to get it sorted. 

Look at the libraries! Unashamedly, they have threatened to remove libraries from areas of deprivation, which a Labour Council should never do. I have pushed back privately, time and time again. But Cllr Letts and other members of the Cabinet dismissed my views, and the views of people in Redbridge.

I have been very patient, and extremely loyal in the face of extreme provocation and Labour negligence. As I say, I can have no part in it.

I tried and tried again over the last three years to ensure that the Labour Council is actually a Labour Council. It isn't. It is just more and more cuts, and a lack of innovation that is needed to protect services and the vulnerable. Other councils, of all parties, have done it. Why hasn't Southampton? Because of a lack of leadership and a lack of vision.

I have been a member of the Labour Party for 10 years. I believed it was the natural party for working people, as a workplace trade union representative before I joined. 

I do not believe that Labour is that party any more. And neither do millions of voters who didn't back Labour.

The Labour Group in Southampton, and the Labour Party in England, faces the electoral abyss unless it properly changes to represent the majority of working people and to promote aspiration. I am highly sceptical that will happen, for many reasons.

I have resigned from the Labour Group out of conscience. I have not done this lightly. 

I remain a member of the Labour Party for the time being, and am alarmed at the lack of due process and lack of democracy being followed by Labour Party officials. They have not even followed enough due process to warrant my accusing them of a kangaroo court! Sadly, in my experience over the last decade, a lack of professionalism from paid officials is commonplace in the Labour Party. It is indicative of the wider malaise that voters have detected - that the officials and bureaucracy are helping the already powerful and the careerists, rather than what a Labour Party was founded for.

I will continue to fight for Redbridge, and work very hard for my residents, listening to them and acting for them, as I have done over the last four years. 

My successes have largely been despite, not because, of the Labour Council and despite Labour's failings nationally - which were proved by the votes going elsewhere in the General Election.

Perhaps a new Party will emerge, or an existing one will reform, to represent the many, not the few.