At Southampton City Council, we were appalled how the Health Scrutiny Panel of councillors let Southern Health off the hook. Not only that, the Chair of the Panel, Labour Councillor Sarah Bogle did not insist as we had asked that SH Chief Exec Katrina Percy and SH Chair Mike Petter attend. Instead, she let Ms Percy go on leave and send two other directors to attend. Worse, when I challenged her on this in a written question to Full Council, she appeared to try to justify this. In another conversation, it appeared to Denise and I that Cllr Bogle was just too busy to make Southern Health accountable.
Worse, the papers sent to the Panel were wrong, giving a false impression of progress to "learn the lessons" they claim to have learned. Such claims are bitterly disputed by fellow campaigners, highlighted again by new analysis published today by the Justice for LB campaign. Why were the papers wrong? It was just an error say SH. Obviously not deliberate.
So the Health Scrutiny Panel failed to do its job - why was it left to Denise and I as campaigners to read the papers and know they were wrong? It is the job of officers and members of the Scrutiny Panel to be aware. But they didn't do their job.
And as already stated on this blog, the governors and directors of SH have failed. This includes Labour Peartree Councillor Paul Lewzey who was the governor appointed by outgoing Freemantle Labour Councillor David Shields to represent Southampton's residents. The latter is the one who thought it was OK to try to gag the rest of us councillors. As the Daily Echo reported, it may work on Labour or Tory councillors but not on Independents like myself and Coxford Independent Don Thomas.
As for Governor Paul Lewzey, after waiting a long time for his answer to my question as to why he didn't back Governor John Green's proposal for an independent investigation into SH, all we got was a rambling non-answer. Towing the party line instead of proper accountability for failed governance and failed care is not on.
The regulators have also failed. Months after Mazars, the regulators are dragging their heals - will their threats in this week's media amount to anything? It is difficult to be confident of this given past experience.
So how do we hold the NHS to account? The answer is that we can't.
And sadly this is the inevitable consequence of how the NHS was set up in 1948. It cannot be top-down command and control. That is for Stalinists.
It has to be local, but with real, not imagined accountability.
In the meantime, campaigners have to use all forms of media and whatever other tools they can, to get rid of the failures of the existing system.
Independent Councillor Andrew Pope