Hampshire families refuse to participate in review into death of loved ones as they say they feel 'bullied' by the NHS

BEREAVED families have said they have felt ‘gaslighted’ and ‘bullied’ by the NHS.

Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, 2:43 pm
Edward Hartley from Wickham

Families from Hampshire involved a review commissioned by NHS England into five deaths of their relatives, who were under the care of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust between 2011 and 2015, have refused to participate in further hearings and described the process as a ‘charade’.

Last year a report by Nigel Pascoe QC concluded that a public investigation should take place for the deaths at the trust, which provides services in mental health and learning disabilities, after ‘regrettable failures’ into ‘proper investigation and ‘reasonable communication with immediate family members’.

Jane Hartley from Wickham, whose 18-year-old son Edward died in 2014, previously told The News that they were ‘bruised and battered’ by what they had been through.An NHS spokesperson said it was ‘disappointed that the families have decided to take this step, and that it remains ‘committed to ensuring any lessons are identified and learned.’

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The families who have withdrawn from the process also include Dianne Small from Fareham, mother of 28-year-old Robert Small, who died in 2012, Richard West, father of David West, 28, from Southampton, who died in 2013, Angie Mote and Kim Vella, daughters of Marion Munns, 74, from Southampton, who died in 2015 and Maureen Rickman, sister of 52-year-old Jo Deering, from New Milton, who died in 2011.

A joint statement read: ‘Our efforts over the years have led us down many avenues and introduced us to a revolving door of NHS and government agency personnel. We have “engaged”; we have “participated” and we have “co-produced”.

‘Sadly, all efforts to have our voices heard, acknowledged and accepted have met with a belligerent dissonance by those in senior management positions, both within the trust and the wider national NHS management, in facing up to the truth and we have been openly misled, misrepresented, gaslighted and bullied.

‘We must remain true to our cause and in honour of our lost loved ones refuse, through our participation, to legitimise the charade that this hearing has become.’

Stage 2 of the independent review will still go ahead and Southern Health said it is ‘fully participating'.

Dr Karl Marlowe, chief medical officer at the trust added: ‘We are saddened to hear that the families have withdrawn from the process but respect their decision.’

In 2015 Southern Health apologised after the Mazars report found it had failed to investigate the deaths of hundreds of people it cared for with learning difficulties or mental health needs with the chief executive and chairman resigning shortly afterwards.

It was also fined £2m in March, 2018, for the ‘avoidable deaths' of two vulnerable patients at a heavily-criticised care unit in Oxford.

After the Pascoe report was published last year, Dr Nick Broughton, who was chief executive of the trust at the time, said he was ‘profoundly sorry’ and ‘significant changes’ had been made since 2015, some as a ‘a direct result of contribution from families and learning from past failings.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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