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Bonkers Blog June 2013

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27 June (Part 3) - BELL ends

The BELL scandal will inevitably cool down for a while. I have passed the documents to someone who may be better equipped to take the case further. However recent days have seen various comments from both anonymous and named sources. Here are some I feel able to repeat.

Log• It is crystal clear to staff left here what happens if we do not tow the party line. Not making excuses for Maria, but it is easy to compromise one’s own integrity when under a lot of stress, upset, or put under ‘awkward pressures’ let’s say.
• I was disciplined for threatening to attack Maureen Holkham with an axe which was a totally false allegation.
• There is not a shadow of doubt in my own mind; the Bexley union rep. is there to protect the Council, not the employees. For run of the mill complaints, the union might do grand things for the employee and get membership recommendations because of it, but for the real cases like John and Andy’s, forget it!
• After Mrs. Baker died staff asked for 24/7 on call managers to be listed on the noticeboard. They were, but only their names, no contact numbers. So not a lot of use.

What exactly is Bexley council’s management style and culture? If someone threatens to attack a Deputy Director with an axe you don’t hold a disciplinary hearing, you call in the police - unless of course you are part of the management team that manufactured a story with the sole intention of getting rid of a round peg in a square hole. Or as it is beginning to look, a man in a woman’s world. This account is not from someone’s vivid imagination, it is referenced in John’s (dismissed BELL technician) files.

The issue of server codes not being translated into English has been explained to me by two people. It required a module from the manufacturer to be added to the system but it failed to work properly in Bexley and was forecast to produce too much information even if it did.

John says his immediate manager. Linda Cox (I only have his word for it) believed the problem was caused by incorrect installation of the equipment at the clients’ premises. Installation was the responsibility of another technician there is no need to name. John (the server technician) says Ms. Cox’s fault diagnosis was entirely wrong. In any event, Bexley council did nothing to correct the fault. Calling in the manufacturer’s support engineer may have incurred a charge. One BELL operator comments as follows…

With the less usual codes coming up on the screens, when the BELL alarm comes through; the codes could easily be put into plain English but weren’t. When these calls came through it makes the operators anxious because they do not indicate what they are for.

It could mean flood, fire, carbon monoxide. Anything! And each would require a different reaction. But they so rarely came through in English that even if there was information about what they meant and how to deal with them, chances are that you would not know where to find the info.

Of course, you could always be well organised and keep all this info in a notebook or in a file on a shelf, but what about the casual staff or staff brought in at short notice, or the the trainee??

The codes should be a simple heading, such as ‘care home lift alarm’ or ‘contact Tunstall service engineer - electrical fault’, or whatever the basic problem is.

Whilst operators have a personal responsibility to deal with emergency calls in keeping with the procedures, the employing body surely has a responsibility to make these procedures efficient and straightforward in a way that recognises that an emergency operator never needs to waste time worrying about how to deal with some foreign looking screen that jumps to life in front of them in the small hours of the morning, when where is not a single soul to turn to in the room for assistance.

In an attempt to discover whether staffing levels improved after Bexley council’s neglect contributed to the death of Mrs. Baker, Mr. Barnbrook has requested under the Freedom of Information Act, a (names redacted) copy of the BELL staffing rota for April 2012 and April 2013.


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