In a highly damning independent report, Sussex Partnership NHS foundation trust is today criticised for underestimating the risk of violence posed by mentally ill patients who went on to kill.
At the same time as the report was being released, the trust’s CEO was on The Today Programme and started off by saying: “Today's report is about people. It's about the lives of families which have been devastated.” These comments were duly tweeted by the trust’s media team.
Yet go back a few minutes earlier to listen to the interview with Joe Goswell, whose mother was killed by his father whilst under the care of the trust, and the message is very different. When presenter Nick Robinson asked Mr Goswell whether the trust had given him any briefing or communicated with him prior to the report, listeners heard an unequivocal response: “No, we’ve heard nothing whatsoever as a family. The first time I knew there would be a report that included my parents was when I read about it in The Times.” Mr Goswell went on to say that the trust hadn’t even told him when the report would come out.
Understandably apologies were immediately forthcoming from the trust’s CEO, but this was another entirely avoidable situation.
Regardless of the subject matter or the sector there are a number of communications basics which should be followed with the release of any story. In this case, simply asking: Have all the people that are part of this report been communicated with?
In preparing for the release of a report of this magnitude, which your own organisation commissioned, and by going to the effort of prepping your CEO to be at the mercy of Today (lucky he didn’t get Humphries), you would expect some basics to have been followed. Instead, the trust looks like it’s still not in a position to learn any lessons.
An inquiry has criticised an NHS mental health trust for underestimating the risk of violence posed by patients who went on to carry out killings, two of which could have been prevented. Sussex Partnership NHS foundation trust has been criticised for not taking more seriously the families of disturbed patients who pleaded for help because they feared that their relative would commit violence. The review of 10 homicides that occurred between 2010 and 2015 included the death of 79-year-old Donald Lock on the A24 near Worthing in Sussex in July 2015 after his car collided with that of Matthew Daley, who stabbed him 39 times. An independent review of the trust’s handling of patients involved in the cases has found that it did not always learn from mistakes and on occasion “severely underestimated” the risk presented by certain patients. It was criticised for misjudging the risk posed in seven of the 10 killings.