Southern Health employee told she had 'blood on her hands' ahead of giving evidence in review panel
A WITNESS who gave evidence at an independent panel looking into deaths under the care of an NHS trust has been inundated with intimidating phone calls, emails and tweets.
Beth Ford, who works for Southern Health NHS Trust, gave evidence on March 18 as part of an independent review panel into the trust.
The review comes following five deaths under the trust between 2011 and 2016, in the hopes that Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust will improve its complaints handling, communicate better with families and examine the supervision structure.
But in a statement issued in today’s proceedings, Nigel Pascoe QC – who is heading the review – revealed that Ms Ford has been subjected to intimidation before giving evidence, and said that if this continues, criminal prosecution could soon follow.
He said: ‘Some of these communications are already in the public arena and we are of the strong view that if they were all made public, then any reasonable member of the public would be outraged by such cruel and calculated pressure, carrying the clear capability of causing harm.
‘However, the view of the panel is that, taken as a whole, those messages, sent to a witness, are totally unacceptable, damaging and deeply disturbing.
‘They appear to have been targeted both to intimidate and to demean the recipient. That is indefensible.’
During her evidence, Ms Ford confirmed that the intimidation has not come from within the trust,
She said: ‘I want to make it very clear it was not Southern Health staff or Southern Health as an organisation that I have been intimidated by – it was members of the public.’
On Twitter two accounts, @justiceforfami3 and @truth_families1, have been verbally attacking the user involvement facilitator, with one account claiming to be a former employee for the NHS trust.
One tweet told Ms Ford she had ‘mud in her eyes and blood on her hands’.
The former account links to a blog run by campaigner, Geoff Hill – who is worried he could be being set up.
‘I have no link to whoever these people are, I don’t even use Twitter,’ he said.
‘Whoever is behind this is being very silly. They shouldn’t be speaking to anyone like this.
‘That being said, I don’t think she should have been put forward for this panel review in the first place.’
Southern Health NHS Trust has also been contacted for comment.