Kidnapped: In England

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April 12, 2016 | 13 Comments


  1. Thank you for such a full account of such a tragic story. So often we get the bare facts of a story but here, so much of Connor is alive and real that it brings the whole scenario to life.
    The facts here, as regards conditions etc. within this type of residential set-up, are of the type that we read over and over again without any changes coming about or lessons learnt it seems. It is a total disgrace. We read of residential homes from history and are astounded at the ‘goings on’, yet, here we are in the 21st. century and things are really showing very little change.
    I found the character of Connor extremely endearing and true to life, especially as we care for an autistic young adult who also has learning difficulties. (He is a sibling of the son that I normally concern myself about!). Like Connor, He has a very strong sense of right and wrong and the consequences (his version always harsher than the strictest Court in the land!). He is extremely popular with old and young alike and very sociable. Caring for him, though, can be infuriating at times as he makes a joke of everything and expects you to see the funny side at all costs.
    Unlike Connor, he doesn’t have any major behavioural issues although he gets extremely cross with any changes to his daily or weekly routines.
    I can fully understand Connor’s disappointment at his own life seeming to take a very different path to that of his siblings. We are very lucky that the local social services provides a daycare service and a job opportunity placement (1 day each) for him which makes him feel more like ‘others’.
    I am now facing an Appeal Hearing with him concerning his ESA benefit. Having read Richard and Sara’s account has given me extra determination to make sure that his vulnerabilities are fully understood and taken into account when decisions are made.
    Like Richard and Sara, we feel that the likes of Connor put the rest of us to shame on many counts – they are satisfied with so little and have such trust in humanity that the least we can do is strive to ensure their safety within society as a whole.

  2. I am so, so sorry for what Richard and Sara had to go through.
    Connor, never had a voice.
    He was just another statistic to a futile,’ dysfunctional systemic’ problem.
    How many professionals carry on with the programmed mentality of:
    ‘hear, speak and see no evil’ ~ a common way of life for many professionals.
    If we all spoke up, we would all be out of a job.
    Perhaps necessary change could come about this way because we all bothered to care.
    It is a very sad situation, to continue with this ‘barbaric’ mentality.
    Why be in a healing profession, if most of your waking lives is about ‘covering up’ the wrong you do?
    These parents deserved the truth but somehow I am not quite convinced the TRUTH was revealed.
    Connor, deserved the treatment,respect and care, that any other individual would deserve.
    Shame on professionals, who do not speak up on behalf of your patients.
    Why be in a caring profession, if you don’t care????????
    Is your money more important than someone’s life?
    Imagine if the tables were turned and this happened to you?
    I am so ashamed to be amongst some people who call themselves professionals because they take an ‘oath of duty of care’ and make a joke of it!
    When is this culture of ‘see, speak and see’ no evil ever going to change?
    If a majority of people are on medication, should we be blaming the meds for their behaviour?
    There is a moral as well as ethical issue staring us right in the face and on one seems to give a damn!!!!!!
    Seven hundred people and still counting…………………… is one life too many!

  3. A few updates on the “Justice for LB” campaign … more can be found at their website, or on Sara Ryan’s blog htpps:// . Twitter fans can climb on board with hashtag #JusticeforLB or follow @JusticeforLB and @sarasiobhan.

    A major report was released April 6, just a few days after this article appeared. Southern Health Trust clearly failed their latest followup inspection in January 2016, and the CQC is instructing them to make “urgent improvements” in patient safety. This was followed April 11 by an announcement from NHS England that CQC will review how 12 local trusts learn (or don’t learn) from premature deaths in their care, particularly of learning disabled people.

    Then, on Monday afternoon … a leaked 2012 document showed Southern Health Trust was fully aware of all the problems that led to LB’s death in July 2013. A year before he died. This discovery was made by community volunteers … not the intrepid regulators, CQC or otherwise.

    “This isn’t just neglect, it’s willful disinterest in the safety of patients. This is corporate manslaughter territory,” according to Justice for LB.

    Southern Health Trust CEO Katrina Percy is standing pat in a fashion reminiscent of George Bush: She’s the Decider, it seems, and will keep on “leading” for the good of all. Affected families, including Connor Sparrowhawk’s, want her to resign. Now. They are sick and tired of waiting for CQC to consider doing something.


    Southern Health is my local trust. It’s huge – covering everything from mental health and learning disability services, to diabetes, podiatry, physiotherapy and more – and our local community hospitals. It covers a massive geographical area (for England): from Hampshire to Oxford. It is currently in negotiations to take over GP services in local areas here which are having big recruitment problems.

    It’s huge- and beyond description woeful. Bad bad and double bad. I cannot describe just how poor psychiatric/learning disability services are in this area. When Connor’s beyond-words tragic death and the sheer scale of negligent practice, and the eyewatering number of deaths was exposed there was a deal of local outrage. The Trust CEO was widely criticised here for not resigning immediately – but, as Johanna says, she stuck tight and looks to be there for the duration. I don’t know how she sleeps at night.

    Meanwhile one Martyn Diaper (memorable name) has popped up as a locum in my surgery down the road. He was piloted in to Southern Health a few years ago, by NHS England, to oversee patient safety (??) …and seems to have piloted himself rapidly back out again, uncomfortably close to me.

    I find it really hard to write cogently about Connor’s death, those of all the other patients who died and all those who are currently being supposedly looked after by Southern Health. Many aren’t, for better or worse, because there are no beds, a chronic shortage of staff – and all the rest. It makes me sick to my stomach. Utterly sick.

    • Thanks Sally! There are lots of angles to this story that strike me as important – but it’s only a canny Brit who can tell us exactly what’s going on.

      One is the crisis highlighted by two other local “Southern Health Bereaved Families.” Both lost adult daughters to suicide (Louise Locke, 44, and Angela Smith, 52) due to the Trust’s refusal to offer them either hospital care or adequate counseling and support! Ms. Locke was found hanged at home a day after she visited the hospital begging to be admitted. Meanwhile young learning-disabled adults seem to languish in these ATU’s for months, far from home, while the Trusts push away their families and refuse to provide community resources to help them go home. This two-headed problem of pushing hospital care on some while denying it to others has a common root somewhere. It feels very American.

      Another is the creeping privatization of NHS England—especially the murky process by which “Trusts” become “Foundation Trusts.” It’s all about applying “market mechanisms”, winning control over the funds allegedly “saved” and reaping rewards for contracting-out to the private sector, apparently. I get the impression some NHS execs would slit as many throats as need be to achieve the coveted Foundation Trust status – and things get even nastier once they do.

      Does anyone understand the details?

      • In a word Johanna – no! No one has the faintest understanding of the detail of the NHS structure now. It’s lost in a beyond bizarre, labyrinthine, tortuous- mess. Beyond any capacity of mine to begin to explain. underpinning it all is indeed the shadow of surreptitious privatisation.. The reason for Foundation Trusts is sort of lost too except that I believe they were supposed to have more financial autonomy, including borrowing money to build new hospitals, most of which are now broke. Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, the public health and organisational arm, was named in Fierce Pharma last month as one of the 10 most influential people in the pharmaceutical industry in 2016. Draw your own conclusions

    • My word Sally – and to think that I thought things were bad here in North Wales! How dare Cameron stand up in parliament and criticise the Welsh NHS when things are so bad on his own doorstep. Doesn’t this illustrate one of two things – either he hasn’t a clue what goes on in the real world or we can’t trust a word that comes out of his mouth. Actually, it’s probably a mixture of both as all he seems capable of doing is find fault with others without paying any attention to his own actions. Enough of the politics! I feel so sorry for the state of things in your area Sally – here’s hoping for a glimmer of hope in the near future (although I’ve no idea where from!).

  5. How can any good come out of this if the authorities in question, investigating the matter may possibly be as corrupt as Southern Health Trust?
    Good men get the ‘run around’ when they speak up.
    As far as I am concerned, they can not get away with this kind of unethical behaviour for long.
    It eventually catches up with them, one way or another.

  6. If anyone can tell me how to post a photo (if possible to?) I can show you what Southern Health did to the brand new hospital I went into 15 years ago (for asylum!!) as soon as they took it over in 2012..


    Southern Health have paid compensation, admitted liability and issued the attached ‘mediated statement’ which I take to mean was written by a legal team and approved by both sides. I’m interested in the inclusion of the word ‘unlawful’ in describing the negligence leading to Connor’s death – unlawful = criminal, which to my mind opens the possibility of criminal charges. Meanwhile the teflon coated Ms Percy still hangs on in the teeth of increasing internal turmoil and public antipathy. Meanwhile too – nothing’s changed for everyone in this area needing help or care – the Care Quality Commission notes that the urgent changes they required have not been implemented as of the end of May.

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