So, how did the Holmwood House scandal come to be plastered over the pages of The BRISTOLIAN and featured in gruelling detail at last Thursday’s Cabinet meeting?
As usual, distant, arrogant council managers who refuse to be accountable to the public – even in the most extreme cases such as the unexplained death of an elderly woman in their care – are the authors of their own public humiliation and downfall.
Rest assured, the Holmwood case did not come out of a clear blue sky last Thursday: Kathleen Cole died in July and her daughter Annette Whiting has been asking questions ever since then and not getting any answers.
A key figure in the scandal is DAVID TOOLE, the Bristol City Council Health and Social Care Manager who oversaw the six safeguarding reports into Kathleen’s care. It was he who worked closely with the home’s struck-off nurse ‘consultant’, ISLA MEEK, to play down the dangerous quality of care at Holmwood House. By September, he simply stopped taking Annette Whiting’s concerned phone calls over the circumstances of her mother’s death.
So did he think she’d just go away? On the basis that when some middle manager plonker at the council stops taking your phone calls that’s the end of any matter? How wrong can he be?
It was at this point, Annette sought the only immediate help at hand, which was seasoned care campaigner Steve Norman and The BRISTOLIAN. She was immediately put in touch with firebrand lawyers Irwin Mitchell, specialists in public law, while Steve tackled the council privately and requested a meeting with the Social Care Strategic Director ALISON COMLEY.
Fat chance. Apparently Comley – herself an ex-social worker, but now a six-figure salaried City Hall boss – was far too busy at strategy meetings to worry about suspicious deaths on her watch. The actual response from Comley’s PA was that her boss was “too busy” and that Annette would need to complete a ‘Fair Comment’ corporate complaint form!
Because obviously the best way to deal with a bereaved relative – with a series of highly compelling issues to raise regarding the care your organisation provided – is to get them to fill in a form and force them through a useless bureaucratic process!
It was at this stage that The BRISTOLIAN took the decision to go public with Holmwood House immediately. It was plainly apparent to us that none of these managers gave a toss about Annette or her mother and were behaving as if they were not accountable to the likes of us.
Just how stupid and arrogant are these council managers? What planet are they living on, which makes them think they can treat ordinary Bristolians with utter contempt and get away with it?
Well, things have changed a bit now haven’t they? Rest assured Comley, her sidekick MIKE HENNESSEY and that lamentable safeguarding manager arsehole DAVID ‘WATTA’ TOOLE are now running round like blue arse flies trying to explain their bizarre conduct and lunatic decisions. And this is just the start …
To steal their own soundbite – “There’s no secrets, no cover-ups, no hiding places in Bristol”.
» Be sure to keep an eye on The BRISTOLIAN: there will be further Holmwood House revelations this week…