A weird thing happened the other day but as it was initiated by NHS England it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it was weird.
For those that remember, at the end of January I sent an Open Letter to Simon Stevens (CEO of NHS England) about the Individual Funding Request (IFR) process imploring him to look at it and change it as it was failing patients and clinicians have no faith in it. I also sent it to a number of National Newspapers and TV stations.
I didn’t really expect an answer from Simon Stevens in view of the fact that my MP Rachael Maskell wrote to him at the start of 2018 about my case and he didn’t bother to reply to her or even acknowledge her letter.
Now bearing in mind that I sent a proper old school letter (on paper), 7 pages with background to my case and the faults of the process backed up with evidence, by recorded delivery, what happened the other day took me by surprise.
First, on 20/03/19 I received an email via the contact form on this blog (My contact details removed):
Dear Mr Thomas-Peter,email 20/03/19 Sarah Burbridge
Are you able to provide me with your email address please, so that I can send a letter to you from NHS England in response to your recent open letter?
I thought “recent open letter” was pushing the definition of “recent” a bit but maybe 2 months is recent in NHS England terms? The email address that it was from was also a bit generic; firstname.lastname@example.org but googling it shows it is actually from the office of NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens! (although 2 addresses are given in the 2 links I found; 1 in Leeds and 1 in London.) Perhaps he has actually replied?
What I didn’t understand was why they were asking for an email address? All my contact details (home address, both phone numbers and my email address) were on the original letter. A bit odd, maybe they have just lost the original letter? But then what made them so desperate to reply? Who knows.
I replied (somewhat sarcastically) knowing that my reply would give them my email address. I didn’t get a reply from Sarah Burbidge (whoever she is) though, the next one came from Stephen Anderson who calls himself “Head of the Office of the Director of Specialised Commissioning , NHS England” so the Office Manager really.
Stephen Anderson’s reply was even more terse than the last email (my contact details removed):
Dear Mr Thomas-Peter,email, Stephen Anderson, NHS England 20/03/19
I have attached a response to you open letter: http://tryingtobeatcancer.org.uk/an-open-letter-to-simon-stevens-nhs-england/. I hope this is helpful.
We’re on first name terms eh Steve? No we’re not and you are clearly not very literate either. He hopes it is helpful, well so do I but somehow after this nonsense I doubt it. I should say that neither Sarah Burbidge or Stephen Anderson would reply to the emails I sent them in return.
So what was in the response? Well don’t get your hopes up for a detailed reply addressing the points I raised as that wasn’t what was attached. The response letter actually came from John Stewart who is apparently the Director of Specialised Commissioning, NHS England. This is the guy actually responsible for putting the IFR Process together and tinkering with it to make sure less and less people navigate it successfully.
Here’s a link to the letter that is supposed to be a response (again my contact details have been removed) to my open letter to Simon Stevens regarding the Individual Funding Request (IFR) process.
Underwhelmed? I certainly was! he’s just put together a brief overview of the IFR process as if I have no idea how it works. I can’t believe that’s he’s actually seen my open letter, he certainly hasn’t read it. Given the ludicrous process of actually getting the response to me I doubt he even wrote that response. It beggars belief to be honest.
I’ve had quite a lot of letters from NHS England over the last few years which have not addressed whatever it is they are supposed to address, been full of platitudes, generally inaccurate and patronising, but this one beats them all. It even has that lie of a strap line included just to top things off: “High quality care for all, now and for future generations”, I can’t tell you how sick I am of seeing that.
He mentions my solicitor’s letter before action, quite why I have no idea as my open letter was written about 3 weeks before my solicitor sent that letter. So maybe that’s why they feel they should shuffle some paper my way?
So I’ve replied, as politely as I can asking why he has sent such a piece of rubbish and why Simon Stevens hasn’t replied himself. I doubt I’ll get an answer. I’ve copied the reply to Simon Stevens as well (via his gopher Sarah Burbridge) with a covering letter. I’ll publish them here once they have been received (and possibly even read?) by the addressees.
Just remember all you taxpayers out there; you are paying the wages of these imbeciles and quite good wages they are too!