Katrina Percy, the former Chief Executive of Southern Health Trust, has been under pressure to stand down for months after the mental health trust she led failed to investigate the deaths of more than 1,000 people with mental health and learning disabilities between 2011 and 2015.
This catalogue of disasters in a Trust that states its aim is: “to provide high quality, safe services which improve the health, wellbeing and independence of the people we serve”.
Her LinkedIn profile describes her as: Passionate about leading organisations through transformational change of their clinical service; placing a very strong emphasis on the leadership and team development throughout the organisation to enable this.
That’s her opinion. An independent review found that “a failure of leadership” had led to these deaths going unanswered but she resisted efforts to resign until this week.
Announcing her resignation she said “I have reflected on the effect of the ongoing personal media attention has had on staff and patients and have come to the conclusion that this has made my role untenable.
I have, therefore, come to the difficult decision to step down from my role as chief executive after nine years.
“I am delighted to be taking on an alternative role, providing strategic advice to local GP leaders as they work with others to transform the way in which health services are delivered across Hampshire, and I feel that now is the right time to take on that new challenge.
I know and understand that many will say I should have stepped down sooner given the very public concerns which have been raised in the past months. I stayed on as I firmly believed that it was my responsibility to oversee the necessary improvements and to continue the groundbreaking work we have begun with GPs to transform care for our patients“.
Not one word of apology or any sign of contrition. This “I’m the only person who can fix it” attitude, despite getting the Trust in a mess in the first place (she was CEO for 9 years), is not uncommon. It’s also been used by Police Chiefs and other public sector chiefs.
And of course she’s delighted with her new role – she’s still being paid very generously – on the same £180,000 + benefits – in a consulting role. But why would GPs take advice from someone who has been criticised for leadership failures?
It now turns out that the post was created especially for her, there were no other candidates and no interviews. This is not the way to recruit top executives in any organisation.
And what were the chair and board members doing about the independent report? Well the Trust’s Chairman Mike Petter resigned days before the publication of the Care Quality Commission report which said that the Trust was still failing to protect people.
The interim chairman, Tim Smart, says “Katrina has ensured that Southern Health is now working more closely with other health and care organisations in the region to provide more joined-up care, so more people receive support at the right time and place”
But Andrew Smith, the MP for Oxford East, said that her continued employment was evidence that the Trust was “not fit for purpose“. He also said “it’s disturbing too that her comments and those of the Trust blame her resignation on media attention rather than acceptance of her ultimate responsibility for the abject and fatal failings of Southern Health”
The mother of a vulnerable teenager who drowned in a bath after having an epileptic fit , an incident a jury inquest ruled as caused by neglect, also criticised the Trust. “It’s good that she’s no longer CEO and hopefully there will be more movement at board level. To reward her with a made-up post at the same salary is simply scandalous”.
I think most people would agree with that sentiment.
Alas the fear of losing your job makes people attend work more diligently (even when they shouldn’t) and the resulting “presenteeism” masks rising levels of mental health problems.
The Engineering Employers Federation (which I used to know well as at one time I was their stress management expert in the North West) surveyed 350 companies involving 90,000 workers. They found that only 1 in 10 companies provided training for managers on mental health issues. So they found a market for it – if companies were really interested.
Two fifths of the companies said long-term absence rates were increasing even though absence overall was low at 2.2% i.e. 5 days per employee a year on average. In fact half of the workers never took any time off sick.
Back problems (musculo-skeletal) are still the main cause of long-term absence overall but for a quarter of the companies stress and mental health disorders were the main cause.
These are still considered the most difficult to deal with in adjusting work to meet the employees’ needs.
The EEF’s Chief Medical Adviser says GPs should be given the tools to deal with stress and mental health issues in the same way they deal with other medical problems.
What about companies taking more interest in their employees’ wellbeing and making an effort to combat the causes of work-based stress?
We don’t want to go the way of America where stress is considered the norm and work-life balance is now work-life merge (thanks largely to high flying female executives).
See other posts
British Psychological Society to launch attack on rival profession, casting doubt on biomedical model of mental illness
There is no scientific evidence that psychiatric diagnoses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are valid or useful, according to the leading body representing Britain’s clinical psychologists.
In a groundbreaking move that has already prompted a fierce backlash from psychiatrists, the British Psychological Society’s division of clinical psychology DCP) will on Monday issue a statement declaring that, given the lack of evidence, it is time for a “paradigm shift” in how the issues of mental health are understood. The statement effectively casts doubt on psychiatry’s predominantly biomedical model of mental distress – the idea that people are suffering from illnesses that are treatable by doctors using drugs. The DCP said its decision to speak out “reflects fundamental concerns about the development, personal impact and core assumptions of the (diagnosis) systems”, used by psychiatry.
View original post 468 more words
Next month, the latest edition of a book will be published in America that, according to its critics, will give you a starring role in your own private performance of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – by turning aspects of your normal behaviour, such as checking Twitter a little too often, into a new mental disorder.
Many see its publication as part of a continuing attempt to create order out of the chaos of the human mind by updating a set of common criteria for mental disorders that encourages research as well as helping in the diagnosis and treatment of patients.
Yet the debate is so polarised that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) is publishing the $200 fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) into a maelstrom of controversy. Indeed, two of the DSM’s fiercest critics, Dr Allen Frances and Dr Robert Spitzer, are…
View original post 1,212 more words