Read all about it.

Six months after Nico died I was in the car when I heard the Emeli Sandé song “Read all about it” on the radio.   I had heard this song a hundred times as background music without ever really listening to the words, but now I found myself really listening for the first time.

“It’s about time we got some airplay of our version of events. There’s no need to be afraid, I will sing with you my friend – come on, come on. I wanna sing, I wanna shout I wanna scream ’til the words dry out, so put it in all of the papers, I’m not afraid, they can read all about it, read all about it.”

Without warning I began to weep uncontrollably and cry out, rocking and calling out Nico’s name. At this point I wasn’t able to control my terrible weeping jags which were happening several times a day. I was going through the awful pretence of normal life while in reality I was just staggering on from one horrendous emotional hole to the next.

But this was different. I became absolutely distraught because I realised that no-one was listening to “our version of events” and the feeling that we had no voice made my agony so much more acute. I had a great need to tell the world about what had been done to us and to my boy but I didn’t know who to tell or how to begin to tell it to them. There was a vast, empty, aching void that seemed to stretch out all around me like a great desert. Without support and robbed by Southern Health of our right even to be so angry, we swayed and fell and had to stumble back to our feet again because nobody was coming to help or comfort us.

If no-one knows, no-one cares. You have to tell people about the great wrong which has been done to you for them to be sympathetic, or even empathic. To have listeners you must be able to tell them your story. The opportunity to say your feelings out loud and know others are hearing you, brings its own sense of worth and value. When you know your words are listened to you feel your voice has power. When people start agreeing with you then you have the beginning of validation. With validation comes healing.

In February 2013, almost 6 months after Nico’s death we received a letter from Katrina Percy, the CEO of Southern Health. This was the only letter we have ever received from her. It came in answer to a letter I’d written to Southern Health two months before. I wrote because although I didn’t know what ought to be happening, I felt sure that something ought to be happening; some investigation, some letter to us – just something. I needed to know they remembered us and to know if they remembered Nico. I needed to know if they had carried out an internal investigation at the very least. I just needed them to be writing to me with some words so that I knew they were even aware that Nico had died and that they cared.

She wrote: “Although a Root Cause Analysis had been completed, you weren’t informed that this had taken place. You weren’t informed as it was thought this would be distressing for you, but had you been provided with this information, it would have helped you to understand that the Trust was looking to learn from any issues surrounding your son’s death. I am sorry that we did not keep you informed and appreciate that this must have caused you additional distress.”

And that was the only paragraph specifically mentioning that our son had died in the entire 4 page letter. In June 2014 we finally saw this “Root Cause Analysis”. It was in one of the vast blue backed tomes, the so called “bundles” of legal papers sent by Southern Health to our solicitors. So it was actually June 2014 before we finally knew Southern Health’s version of what happened to Nico and why it would have been too upsetting for them to have told us at the time; why we had to spend 22 months without knowing how our beautiful, adored son had died. And yes, they were right about one thing. They did cause us additional distress.

“You’ve got a heart as loud as lions so why let your voice be tamed? Maybe we’re a little different, there’s no need to be ashamed. You’ve got the light to fight the shadows so stop hiding it away, come on, come on. I wanna sing, I wanna shout, I wanna scream ’til the words dry out. So put it in all of the papers I’m not afraid. They can read all about it, read all about it.” 

By denying us our pain, our sorrow, our anger and our voice, Southern Health had taken Nico away from us twice. You may say, that’s ridiculous – melodramatic even, but when what you say is just brushed aside and paragraphs like “I hope you feel that I have adequately answered your concerns.” are all you get in reply, you feel as if nothing you do or say is considered important. Your voice and what you have to say are just silly, petty and forgettable.

The letter finishes by saying “However, if there are any points requiring clarification or any new points have arisen which you consider have not been addressed by the Trust, please ask for a further response from the complaints officer”. We could feel an underlying thread throughout the whole letter suggesting it was us who misunderstood things, almost willfully. How annoying of us, how selfish. How lucky we are that Southern Health has treated us so wonderfully and really, why aren’t we just more grateful?

Last night I heard the same song on the radio again, for the first time since the that time in the car when listening to it made me crumble and howl. This time it felt very different. I sang along. I sang the words out loud and I wanted to thank Emeli Sandé for writing better words with a better tune than I could have and I sang the sentiment of the song in my heart. Because yesterday the BBC announced that the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group would be conducting an independent investigation into Nico’s death. The announcement was on the television, on the radio, on-line and in the papers.

“Making sure that we’re remembered because we all matter too. If the truth has been forbidden then we’re breaking all the rules” 

So what can I say? The investigation will be far reaching and will be shining a light into a lot of dark corners that Southern Health would prefer no-one looked into and our local Social Services will not escape either. Taking away my voice has only given me time and space to learn to speak louder. Denying our truth has only given us time to come back stronger and with more proof. “I wanna sing, I wanna shout, I wanna scream ’til the words dry out. So put it in all of the papers I’m not afraid. They can read all about it, read all about it.”

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13 thoughts on “Read all about it.

  1. Even when I was in my deepest anguish I never stopped believing that we would have justice and although we may still have a long way to go I STILL believe we will. But now justice alone isn’t enough. I want real change so that what’s happened to us won’t happen to other families. Like Ms Sandé says:
    “You’ve got the words to change a nation
    But you’re biting your tongue
    You’ve spent a life time stuck in silence
    Afraid you’ll say something wrong
    If no one ever hears it how we gonna learn your song?”

  2. so similar to the actions by the trust with regard to our daughter Kirsty’s death. do not lose heart as we are still fighting her cause after twelve years.Keep strong and you will beat them.if you were to read the book i wrote entitled, “Kirsty a Fathers fight for justice” you would perhaps see how hard things can be. you can read an excerpt on Amazon.
    best wishes.
    Charles W Pearce.

    • Firstly Charles, I am so sorry for your loss. But if this is the same Trust we are all talking about – how many more people have died in their care AND they appear to have got away with it.? Not to mention the very shoddy treatment which seems to be standard across the board for us all. Thankfully justice for LB has sparked off a great media alert about this Trust, then we heard about justice for Nico too. None of this would have got any attention if the Trust had of had their way, and I have often wondered “how many others” when I’ve been in a particularly distressed frame of mind by reading peoples blogs. So how is it they have been able to keep the subject of people dying preventable deaths out of the media and escape prosecution.? If you have been kept in limbo for 12 years waiting for some accountability then that’s tragic – lets hope any of this public scrutiny gives you all some closure at the very least. I have often thought that if everyone who had lost someone by a preventable death whist in the care of this Trust, as well as families like myself who can prove that the Trust have also failed to practice the MCA since it became law.- Why we are not able to take group action through 1 legal team representing us all. I think we would be shocked at exactly how many people in their care and families they have hurt through poor practice without any accountability or punishment.

      • The trust for Kirsty was Basildon and thurrock universty. we were given an inquest after many battles, even with the coroners division. Law firm Leigh- Day took on our case and it it is being fought under the human rights act. We with 40 othyer cases will be discussed at a round table meeting with the trust in July. obviously we are in a better position than a lot of people, including Nico’s family though it does not alter the fact that Kirsty was stole3n fromn us by negligent Medical people. The coroner made the ruling that the Trust contributed to her death, this of course we knew well before the coroner came on the scene. Like all the family of Nico we still shed a tear on a daily basis for our daughter.
        Kirsty was suffering from 14 different medical problems and though she was unique in the medical world she was not afforded the required treatment until she had reached the point of no return. as i have said before, the family just have to keep going and though this will not bring Nico back he will kinow that you are fighting his corner non-stop.
        Charles.

      • You have been on hold for 12 years, there is no excuse for that. I can see that these corporate deaths are something that the alleged offenders are hoping you will just go away. It does make me wonder how often this must happen, and the family that’s left behind just don’t have the courage, knowledge or the energy to fight back – not everyone can do this” face your enemies” thing. That is clearly what they are hoping for.

      • I did tell the trust that if they wanted a fight i was up for it. The GMC stated that though the doctors behaviour in caring for Kirsty could be considered negligent they were not negligent enough to face any kind og hearing.These people are totally shameful.
        Charles

  3. Good news about the investigation, only sorry it has taken this long……Oh and I do believe there will be justice in the end, there is too much stacked against them – I think we all know this though.;-) xxx

  4. Pingback: Blatter, schmatter and candour | mydaftlife

    • As far as I’m aware, prior to 2013 when there was a change in the law, guidance around SIRIs did not state that the family MUST be informed, so some NHS Trusts took advantage of this and chose not to tell the family, but not many did this. Southern Health decided not to tell us that they had even had an investigation, let alone what was in it and following this letter and their admittance that it their choice might not have been a good idea, they still chose not to tell us. This has stung us deeply and left us with such a bitter taste. We have been hurt and angered that the ONLY time the CEO of Southern Health ever has written to us since Nico’s death was to send us a letter telling us that they decided it was better not to tell us how our son died. It’s a 4 page letter so we may decide to blog a few more of the better parts. Some things are too illuminating not to share…………..

  5. I am so sorry Charles , I have just had the GMC letter with regrettable this and no realistic prospect that, it is all shameful. However have you coped x

    • after almost twelve years we have learnt to cope simply because of the need within us. it is so very very vhard and you will shed tears every day. your guardian angel and protector is Nico, as Kirsty is ours so never forget he is always there watching over you. if you get on line and key in, “Kirsty, a fathers fight for justice” you will be able to see the book i wrote that i am sure will show events for Kirsty had similarities to Nico. they are the real heroes in our lives, you will also be able to read an excerpt from the book. best wishes.

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