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‘Openness and transparency’ or ‘conceal and cover up’ in our NHS?

Following publication of an independent report into 10 deaths at the hands of mental health patients under the care of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the Trust tweeted a quote from their CEO speaking on this morning’s Today programme: ‘Today’s report is about people. It’s about the lives of families which have been devastated. I’m acutely aware of that’.

The rest of the interview with Joe Goswell (whose mother was killed by his father whilst under the care of the Trust) and CEO Colm Donaghy is worth listening to as Joe Goswell revealed that he and his family knew nothing about the report until he read about it in the Times newspaper.

Apologies were forthcoming in profusion by Mr Donaghy amid promises of a proposed new family liaison service to help families navigate the ‘difficult and complex bureaucracy of the NHS’.

It is exactly this difficult and complex bureaucracy that leads families to despair (and often to seek legal advice), and rather than appoint someone to help families navigate it surely the greater achievement would be to offer families full participation in an investigation process they can easily understand?

It is this deeply entrenched NHS attitude of conceal and cover up (or at the very least the perception of it) that threatens to undermine all efforts to improve NHS safety through a culture of openness and honest, including the independent rapid resolution and redress scheme for child birth injuries announced by Jeremy Hunt only yesterday.

At the time of writing, whilst this report has gained news coverage, gaining a copy is proving extremely difficult.