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Monday, 18 January 2016

UPDATED: Upping the Pressure on Southern Health

Update: There will be an Extraordinary Meeting of the Southampton Health Scrutiny Panel a week today on February 1st at 6.30pm in Committee Room 3 at the Civic Centre. The latest information I have is that Dr Chris Gordon and Lesley Stevens of the Southern Health Board will be answering questions from councillors and the public. More details are on the City Council website here.


Having attended the very poorly-run Council of Governors meeting, I was hopeful that the Emergency Trust Board meeting of directors last Monday would be an improvement.

Sadly, I was as equally if not more, disappointed. Equally sadly, I was not surprised.

Once again, following the second request from me in as many meetings, the Chair Mike Petter REFUSED to bring forward questions from the public to be at the beginning of the agenda. As was shown on the BBC South Today report, I believe it is disrespectful to expect members of the public - who the Trust Board are meant to serve - to have to sit through hours of meetings before having their say. 

Many local authorities including Southampton bring items of public interest to the beginning of public meetings.

That is common courtesy.

But not Mike Petter. Although I asked him on camera*! He refused my request and "that's the end of the matter", he said.

It is even more disrespectful to press on with the Trust Board meeting when members of families who have suffered at the hands of Southern Health, and other patients, are at the meeting.

The meeting was packed because we the public showed up to express our anger.

And it is incredible that the Trust Board made decisions without listening to the public first, and the public's representatives - the Council of Governors, first.

The Chair continues to treat the public, and their elected representatives, the Council of Governors, with contempt.

He has a conflict of interest as Chair in resolving the crisis, because he has been part of the Trust for several years. The Chair should be removed by the Council of Governors, who have this power. Instead, when given the opportunity at the Council of Governors meeting to express in public their dismay with his performance, only one spoke up - the pompous Tory Councillor Andrew Joy, who expressed his confidence in Mr Petter. He may live to regret that support.

It is clear that large sections of both the Council of Governors and Trust Board are still in denial about the crisis that Southern Health faces. As I've said before, there are a nucleus of people who want to fix the malaise. But as it stands, they are outnumbered by those who are either in denial, or who lack the ability or motivation to act.

So I have now made the following request to the councillors who are Chairs of Southampton City Council's Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee, and Health Overview and Scrutiny Panel:

Dear Chairs of OSMC and HOSP,

I request that given:

1. the dire situations faced by my constituents and those across our City, who have suffered and may continue to suffer at the hands of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust unless urgent action is taken, and 

2. the state of denial that was still clearly evident at both Emergency meetings that I attended in January 2016 of the Council of Governors and the Trust Board at Southern Health, including by statements made by the Chief Executive and Chair, and

3. that Monitor has stated that it will appoint an Improvement Director, and 

4. that Southampton City Council and other health bodies in Southampton commission services by Southern Health

that an emergency joint meeting is held of OSMC and HOSP to request that the Chair and Chief Executive attend to ask questions by members of both Panels, other councillors such as myself and by the Public.

I very much hope that they agree to my request. And I hope that members of the public attend the meeting.

If the Council of Governors who are supposed to hold the Trust Board to account don't want to or cannot do so, it must be up to the rest of us to do it.

All the best,

*(interesting that there was no secret ballot at the Trust Board on recording of meetings - unlike at the recent Council of Governors - who decided this?). Perhaps my repeated requests had finally hit home?

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