Family ‘sick to stomach’ as NHS calls TV report of son’s death a ‘malarkey’
PUBLISHED: 06:50 10 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:06 10 March 2020
The mother of a student, who took his own life, said today she felt “sick to her stomach” after an NHS communications manager labelled a media report on her son’s suicide a “malarkey”.
Pippa Travis-Williams, whose son Henry was found dead days after leaving a mental health unit run by the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) in 2016, said an email sent by NSFT communications manager Mark Prentice to his boss was 'disgusting'.
It comes weeks after Mr Prentice gloated in another email to his boss that the NSFT had 'got away (again)' with media coverage of the death of a dementia patient.
In response, NSFT chief executive Jonathan Warren said: 'We regret any distress caused by this email to the family and our staff.
'There is an ongoing investigation into the previous email and the culture of the department, which we expect will conclude shortly.
'I care deeply about our work looking after some of the most vulnerable people in society.
'Our staff demonstrate every day how much they care about the individuals they look after.'
Ms Travis-Williams' family received a settlement after the NSFT admitted liability in 2019 over Henry's death.
In October last year, BBC Look East reported that settlement and asked the NSFT to comment.
MORE: Mental health trust apologises to family over death of Henry, 21
In an email to his boss, explaining why NSFT chief executive, Jonathan Warren, was going on BBC Look East, Mr Prentice said the NSFT might look 'uncaring' if Mr Warren did not appear and then described the coverage of Mr Curtis-Williams' suicide as a 'malarkey'.
Mr Prentice wrote: 'Jonathan (Warren, chief executive) more-or-less volunteered to do the interview at 3.30pm for the evening programme.
'I shared with him Lesley's (Barlow, deputy communications manager) excellent point that if the CQC boys are at a loose end tonight in the four-star Sprowston Manor Hotel and tune into Look East and see that we've bothered to reply only with a statement, we may not come across as particularly caring.
'Jonathan, who had a two-hour interview with the CQC earlier today, have made them aware of this Look East malarkey.'
Ms Travis-Williams said: 'When I think of the pain my son's death has caused myself and my family - which we now have to live with for the rest of our lives - they do not give a monkeys.
'It's disgusting and personifies the culture in the organisation. They should be ashamed of themselves.'
After the story broke, the NSFT tried to get media to remove Mr Prentice's name, the emails also show.
Publicly they said their concern was an investigation into the trust's culture, but the emails show one of their first responses was to try to pressure journalists to remove Mr Prentice's name from articles.
-'Got away (again)'
In January, the NSFT said it was launching an investigation into its culture and its communications manager Mark Prentice, after Mr Prentice gloated in an email about how the Trust 'got away (again)' with coverage of the death of a dementia patient.
The NSFT's chief executive Jonathan Warren said he felt 'angry, shocked and dismayed' by the email.
MORE: 'Got away with it' - NHS manager gloated about coverage of dead great-grandmother
This newspaper then put in a Freedom of Information request asking for emails of the communications team, including Mr Prentice, dating back six months.
The NSFT released some, including the one we report on today.
It suggests a wider issue within the trust of prioritising their public image over everything else.
The email reveals concern with whether inspectors would see coverage about Henry on TV and undermines their public statement that they were offering their 'sincere and heartfelt condolences' to his family.
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