Readers of this blog will be familiar with the appalling death of LB, whose real name was Connor Sparrowhawk. I wanted to keep you up to date with a campaign for justice for LB organised by his family and many others. Since LB died an independent investigation was set up into his death, and found that it was preventable. Sara Ryan, LB’s mother, has collected various posts and analysis about this report, here. She has also written a timeline of events since LB died, which make for dismal reading.
The campaign for justice for LB has grown. Several local media outlets have written about what happened to LB, as has the Telegraph and Community Care. The family are still fundraising for legal representation at the inquest. Sara has written a manifesto, describing what justice for LB looks like – I’ve asked her permission to reproduce it in full below. The #justiceforLB campaign has set up a fantastic campaigning webpage called 107 days, where you can adopt a day to make your own contribution to justice for LB – be it by fundraising, writing, blogging, giving a lecture or however else you feel is appropriate. The webpage is called 107 days because that’s how long LB was in the Assessment and Treatment Unit before he died. He was admitted to the unit on 19 March 2013; a year ago tomorrow. He died on July 4th. Please take the time to read the Connor Manifesto, and think about what actions you could take to help achieve justice for LB and for the men and women who – like LB – are at risk of incarceration and exclusion from mainstream society, their homes and families.
The Connor Manifesto
We’ve been asked what #justiceforLB looks like by various people over the past weeks. Tonight we received a reminder from the real David Nicholson’s office that we said we’d email this to them. A very cool and reassuring reminder.
We agreed we’d email our list during the meeting last week. But it seemed a bit too enormous to knock into ‘proper’ shape, too scratching at the surface, too insignificant really considering that LB died.
Howl. And we were/are too weighed down/crushed and battered over years by the baseline level of shiteness that exists in learning disability provision to really come up with a meaningful list of anything.
But, hey, let’s run with our fledgling list (already emailed to NHS E towers). In advance of the launch of the #107days of action campaign (to coincide with the date LB went into the unit and the time he spent there), here’s our starter for 10 for actual change (and no more talk/lessons learned) to improve the lives of learning disabled dudes:
What does #justiceforLB look like?
- To achieve all of the below
- Staff, as appropriate, to be referred to their relevant regulatory bodies
- A corporate manslaughter prosecution brought against the trust
- Meaningful involvement at the inquest, and any future investigations into LB’s death, so we can see the Trust and staff account for their actions in public
For Southern Health and the local authority
- Explanation from the CCG/LA about how they could commission such poor services
- Reassurance about how they will ensure this cannot happen again
- An independent investigation into the other ‘natural cause’ deaths in Southern Health learning disability and mental health provision over the past 10 years
For all the young dudes
- A change in the law so that every unexpected death in a ‘secure’ (loose definition) or locked unit automatically is investigated independently
- Inspection/regulation: It shouldn’t take catastrophic events to bring appalling professional behaviour to light. There is something about the “hiddenness” of terrible practices that happen in full view of health and social care professionals. Both Winterbourne and STATT had external professionals in and out. LB died and a team were instantly sent in to investigate and yet nothing amiss was noticed. Improved CQC inspections could help to change this, but a critical lens is needed to examine what ‘(un)acceptable’ practice looks like for dudes like LB
- Prevention of the misuse/appropriation of the mental capacity act as a tool to distance families and isolate young dudes
- An effective demonstration by the NHS to making provision for learning disabled people a complete and integral part of the health and care services provided rather than add on, ad hoc and (easily ignored) specialist provision
- Proper informed debate about the status of learning disabled adults as full citizens in the UK, involving and led by learning disabled people and their families, and what this means in terms of service provision in the widest sense and the visibility of this group as part of ‘mainstream’ society
And, if anyone would like an example of how the final point can be achieved, tune in to thePhil Gayle Show on BBC Radio Oxford where he, and his team, regularly cut through the crap, focus on what is important and have learning disabled people as guests on the programme to talk about what is important to them.
As it should be.