Thursday, July 10, 2008

Michael's Ashes: The Response


Recently we delivered a startling account of the major failings of Eastbourne District General Hospital and its 'aftercare' treatment... of a dead man. Michael Morgan, 51, died in December last and was swiftly cremated on the instruction of hospital officials at 'EDGH': but without the family's knowledge. Following which, they asked for the ashes. Not much to ask given the circumstances one might think, however... it was a request that met with silence. Now, finally, the family has received a response, and it looks as if someone may have removed one of the branches of its family tree. An exclusive from TheBigRetort

In "Michael's Ashes" we highlighted the failings of East Sussex NHS Trust and its 'dead patient aftercare'... which was found to be a bit wanting.

When Michael Morgan died and his family discovered the death and cremation (nearly three months later and only via a chance encounter) Kim Hodgson, chief executive of East Sussex Trust, immediately went into emergency mode. She 'disowned' the family from the former patient claiming that it was not entitled to any further information about his treatment.

Kim Hodgson came to the job as chief executive amidst some controversy. We also saw huge parallels between the treatment of Michael's grieving family at the hands of seemingly uncaring bureaucrats to Ms Hodgson's own loss some time back of a pet dog called Blue.

The dog was stolen and (also) held to ransom and never returned. (We do not want to see that happen with Michael... Or his ashes at least.)

Various newspapers picked up on the piece which not only presented the family's plight but shone a light on East Sussex Trust itself. Following a series of catastrophic and sloppy blunders it failed to demonstrate its attempts to inform Michael's family of his death and later cremation.

Ms Hodgson is also responsible for the overall performance of the executive functions at East Sussex NHS Trust. The 'Accountable Officer', it is her job is to ensure that the Trust discharges its obligations such as patient care and aftercare -or so one might hope.

Instead, Ms Hodgson, presumably advised by expensive lawyers - at a considerable cost to the NHS - has previously ignored repeated requests by the family to hand over the ashes. So why the Dibben statement now?

Could it be the Healthcare Commission investigation? Or MP Joan Ruddock who has also taken an interest? Or the publicity? Whatever the reason, and the plot thickens day by day, if Michael's family had hoped to get a sympathetic ear - along with the answers in this sordid tale - it has now been quashed with Irene Dibben's response.

But Dibben's inability to follow her remit through 'effective communication' and also to 'appraise' her chief executive's actions should be noted.

In what must rank as a great understatement and salt-rubbing of wounds statement, Dibben wrote in her letter that she was aware that the response may cause the family 'further distress'.

Hello all brain cells! If it was a comedy they would be rolling in the aisles. But it's not, it's a tragedy.

So, cover up or cock up? You choose.

Coming soon in TheBigRetort.... We 'Deep Clean' East Sussex NHS Trust.

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