News Round Up, April 19 2017

Some potential horrors have come to my attention since I blogged about yesterday’s News Round Up, so I thought that I’d better write another post quite speedily.

To kick off, I want to bring readers attention to yet another ‘initiative’ being trumpeted on the Betsi’s website, aimed at improving ‘care’ and ‘communication’ on Aneurin Ward in the lethal Hergest Unit http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/861/news/44613 So ward manager Anne Ward is explaining how inviting patients and carers to ‘share’ their concerns over ‘afternoon tea’ once a week is going to enable staff to understand patients concerns, which Anne maintains have not been clarified previously. Er, they have actually Anne, you have received complaint after complaint about serious abuses in the Hergest Unit, including on the ward that you ‘manage’ and you have been instrumental in ignoring them or if the patients still won’t shut up in doing anything that you can to discredit the people complaining. This is the same Anne Ward who ALTERED PAPERWORK after I had made a complaint about Hergest Unit staff violence towards me in order to enable that Unit to build up a picture of me as being ‘dangerous’ (for full details of this sordid incident please see post ‘Who Is In Need of Restraining?’). This is also the same Anne Ward who was previously suspended from her job but was reinstated after a vigorous campaign from her colleagues – the colleagues who had also been the subject of patient complaints. Something tells me that no matter how many cups of tea that Anne has with patients to ‘improve communication’ nothing will change if ward managers are employed who forge risk assessments.

Now for some news from NHS England. The inquest has opened into the death of 15 year old Pippa McManus who had suffered from severe anorexia from the age of 12 and who killed herself whilst in the care of the Priory Hospital, Altrincham, after she was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and detained there http://www.inquest.org.uk/media/pr/inquest-starts-into-child-death-in-priory-hospital-pip-McManus Interested readers who click on this link and read the full story will notice that a number of children and young people have died in Priory hospitals (these places are often funded by the NHS), that 47% of mental health placements in England are now in the private sector and that there is no ‘official’ collection of statistics regarding people who die whilst in the ‘care’ of the UK mental health system. On a more personal note, Dr Robin Jacobson, one of the people working at Springfield Hospital/St George’s Hospital Medical School who concealed abuses in the north Wales mental health system which he was aware of was later employed at the Priory in Roehampton. (Please see post ‘Some Very Eminent Psychiatrists From London’ for further details of the dreadful conduct of Robin and his colleagues.) Dr Adrienne Key, who was a junior doctor ‘training’ at Springfield at the same time as Springfield colluded with the north Wales mental health services to conceal serious abuse of patients, later also gained employment with the Priory group and became their Medical Director for eating disorders. Like Jacobson, she too ended up as a consultant at the Priory in Roehampton. She now has a Harley Street Clinic and dear old Adrienne also has a leading role with our friends the General Medical Council. At the time that Adrienne Key was ‘training’ at Springfield, Springfield and St Georges’s used to boast of their expertise in eating disorders, the eating disorders unit there being led by one Professor Arthur Crisp, who was alleged to enjoy great success rates. Interestingly enough a nurse from Springfield confessed to me that there was no great magic involved in Crisp’s success, it was simply a case of ‘if they don’t eat, they’re out’. Anorexia has a very high mortality rate, so presumably many of the patients who were so ill that they refused to eat and were then discharged will have since died. My main memory of Adrienne Key when she worked as a junior doctor at Springfield was of her arriving on the ward, ignoring distressed patients who were trying to talk to her and then shutting herself in the nurses office for extended lengths of time. On more than one occasion I saw her shut the door in a patient’s face or order nurses to get rid of the patients who were pestering her. Back in the 90s, St George’s Hospital made a big fuss in the wake of a documentary called ‘Minders’, which was a ‘fly on the wall’ documentary about those dedicated mental health professionals at Springfield and St George’s. Unusually the film-makers filmed what had really gone on without editing out the nasty bits and they filmed some very poor treatment of patients. Adrienne was one of the doctors involved… Her boss, poor old Tom Burns – now Professor Tom Burns of the University of Oxford – was so distraught that someone had caught them in the act that he demanded a right of reply and appeared on TV to argue with the man who had directed the programme. Tom memorably said that the film had made Springfield ‘look like the gestapo’. Well Tom they just filmed what you were doing – and what you and Adrienne were doing was appalling…

There has been more adulation of Cressida Dick in the media, she who has ‘broken the glass ceiling’ in the Met, but only after she was responsible for the shooting dead the Brazilian man Jean Charles de Menezes, who was then smeared by the Met when it became clear that they’d killed an innocent man. Cressida has not only stated that she is ‘in a relationship with a woman called Helen’ who works as an Inspector at Scotland Yard, but she is also maintaining that ‘diversity’ will be at ‘the heart’ of her efforts – and that she will issue more officers with tasers and that there will be an increase in stop and search. So if you are a lesbian who states that you are committed to diversity, presumably you hope that no-one will recognise the horror involved in you being keen to arm all your officers with tasers when you’ve already managed to kill an innocent man wrongly labelled a terrorist because he was a suspicious shade of brown, or notice the worrying personal connection with a senior officer at Scotland Yard which might well have been called into question if it were a male boss of the Met with a female girlfriend at Scotland Yard. But Cressida doesn’t stop there. She stated in the interview that she is determined to bring the killers of Stephen Lawrence to justice – these were the killers whose names are known but were alleged never to have been prosecuted because of police corruption in the Met. One of the alleged killers was the son of a high profile gangster who was known to have links with corrupt officers. Cressida has been the person ‘leading’ the efforts to nail Stephen’s killers for the last 13 years, so presumably she’s not doing too well there. But then Cressida has been part of the same Met that had corrupt links to those killers for the past 25 years, so perhaps that’s not surprising. Well now she’s the boss, she can have the killers as well as the corrupt officers with whom they had links arrested within the next few days… Cressida has also publicly declared that she is going to re-establish links between the press and the Metropolitan Police – she is most concerned that under Bernard Hogan-Howe, officers had to declare all their links to the press and she thought that this was unreasonable. Well if I remember rightly Cressida, the reason that people wanted to see those links broken was because of the enormous corruption that was being facilitated through such links – links that were even suspected of having led to the unsolved murder of a private detective from south Wales who was found dead in a London pub car park after having had his head chopped open with an axe.

Lastly, I note that a new CEO has been appointed to the very troubled Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, one Len Richards. It was reported on BBC Wales News that Len has come ‘all the way from Australia’. What wasn’t reported was that Len hadn’t been in Australia that long – prior to working in Australia, Len had a senior role at Barts and before that in a Trust on the Wirral. His time at the Wirral seems to have been very exciting with collective action from doctors and trade unions forcing him to resign. Now as far as I am concerned the jury is out on Len – he may have been a grade A bastard causing much unhappiness, but that Trust on the Wirral was riddled with problems (I think it was the same Trust where the delightful Lyn Meadows, now a member of the Betsi Board, had facilitated a fraud along with a number of doctors as detailed on Frank Field’s blog and in Hansard), so Len might have just made himself unpopular by challenging some truly appalling people who were determined to get rid of them so that they could continue to abuse their positions…

Who Is In Need Of Restraining?

Today the Observer has published an ‘open letter’ to Jeremy Hunt, Minister for Health in Theresa May’s Government, from leading figures of eight national mental health charities demanding an end to face-down ‘restraint’ in mental health units. The Observer is also carrying an accompanying article.

The Observer is reporting that restraint is being used much more frequently on women and girls in mental health units and this is deeply traumatising for them, particularly as many have experienced previous sexual violence or abuse and that it is being used routinely in some units, rather than other de-escalation techniques. I had not realised that restraint was being disproportionately used on female patients, although I certainly know that there is a problem with ‘restraint’ being grossly abused by some people in some units.

However I would argue that the ‘open letter’ to Jeremy Hunt does not reveal just how serious this problem is, although any efforts to reduce incidences of ‘restraint’ is to be welcomed. From what I have seen, ‘restraint’ is frequently an excuse to assault and intimidate the patients – and because it is the staff that have done the ‘restraining’ who fill in the mountains of documentation that are compiled in the wake of an incident of ‘restraint’, there is absolutely no way of telling whether the restraint was necessary or not. I saw ‘restraint’ abused on a number of occasions on Taliesin Ward in the Hergest Unit. My first indication that this technique was being abused was when I witnessed a young man, whom I think was a Muslim, reduced to a trembling wreck on that ward. Every time a female member of staff came near him he’d start repeating ‘please don’t hold me down and inject me again, please don’t ever do that again’. Interestingly enough, one of the staff on that ward, a nursing assistant called Kate Madden, actually responded with ‘now why would we do that?’ (Because Kate you did it to him previously and I suspect that you did it to him a number of times and frightened the living daylights out of him.) Over the next few days I observed a number of things about Kate Madden. She was a criminology student at Bangor University – I think that she might even have been a postgrad – who was working shifts at the Hergest Unit to earn extra money. She was not stupid and being a social scientist she would have known all about institutional abuse and the abuse of power and would have easily been able to identify just how abusive the practices were on that ward. She said nothing at all in protest at what was happening. I also noticed something else – that she didn’t like this young man who had been subjected to ‘restraint’ and she admitted this to me. She didn’t like him because he had expressed some views about women that in her eyes were unacceptable. I found his views on gender unacceptable too, but I got the impression that the self-styled ‘feminists’ of Taliesin Ward had decided to teach this young man a lesson…

I have a close friend who has also spent time on Taliesin. He was never subjected to restraint there himself, but he noticed that another patient was, constantly. He described this patient as being ‘a tiny teenage girl, weighing about 6 stone who was completely psychotic’. My friend noticed that the male staff on Taliesin ‘used every excuse’ to ‘jump on’ this girl on the grounds that she needed ‘restraining’. He noticed that she was far too small in stature to have presented a danger to anyone and that she wasn’t self-harming. What really disturbed him however was that during every ‘restraint’, this young woman’s clothes would somehow end up being removed and the male nurses doing the ‘restraining’ would end up basically groping her. But I bet that didn’t go down in the medical records. Might this be the explanation as to why some mental health units seem to be restraining women and girls so much more than men?

As readers may have guessed, I too have had my own experiences of ‘restraint’ on Taliesin Ward on a number of occasions. On one occasion it was an excuse for a male healthcare assistant to assault me – the incident left me with bruises. I notice that the written record stated that I had attempted to ‘hit out’ at a nurse so this man ‘restrained’ me. I did not ‘hit out’ at anyone, it would have been impossible for me to do so as during the incident in question I was lying down horizontally on a bed, when the four abusive staff in question walked into my room unannounced and surrounded my bed. I later found out that there had been many, many complaints of abusive behaviour from this ‘team’ – Sian Lloyd, Gwen Bethan Roberts, David Wood and Michelle Shaw. David Wood often seemed to find himself unaccompanied in female patients rooms at night. My solicitor made Herculean efforts to get this abusive, lying bunch investigated but they were afforded total protection by Patricia Gaskell, the hospital solicitor at Ysbyty Gwynedd. (I will be blogging further details about this soon.) Another incident of ‘restraint’ involved the manager of Taliesin Ward at the time, one Alison Parry, literally landing on me in a corridor, demanding assistance from a male colleague who then also landed on me. I was later told by a former member of staff that there was a very big problem with Alison Parry doing this to patients and that she was encouraging trainees and junior staff to respond to patients in the same way. I never ever managed to work out what I had done to set Parry off. However, recent documents released to me from my lawyers contain Parry’s rationale for this ‘restraint’ – that I was ‘in a doctor’s personal space’. Now I do not know whether it could be fairly judged that I was in someone else’s personal space or not because the notion of personal space means different things to different people. But if someone is in my ‘personal space’, I simply move back a step. I would not expect two of my colleagues to jump into the air, land on them from above, deck them to the floor and pin them there for twenty minutes. It would seem to be somewhat of an over-reaction. There was another incident of ‘restraint’ on Taliesin Ward as well and again I have no idea at all what precipitated it. This time it was accompanied by my clothes being removed and a forcible injection, followed by a very long time in a ‘seclusion room’ (ie. cell). Interestingly enough, it came to an end the minute the shift changed and a different ward manager came on duty – a man who was actually a human being rather than a thug. Following this incident, I was detained in Taliesin Ward for a further week although the then clinical director of the Hergest Unit, Dr Tony Roberts, had already stated that I was not suffering from a mental illness (I had a borderline personality disorder of course, as did nearly all the patients who had the misfortune to be ‘assessed’ by Tony Roberts). No-one managed to explain why I was kept in that locked ward for a further week. However I noticed that by the time that I was released, the numerous bruises that I had incurred as a result of the ‘restraints’ had finally disappeared – I had asked for these to be documented whilst I was in Taliesin, but guess what, they weren’t. An hour after arriving home I was arrested by the police on the instructions of the Hergest Unit, but that’s another story (please see blog post ‘Interesting Happenings In The Legal System’). Before anyone lapses into too much crude gender stereotyping regarding these matters, I should mention that I later found out that the psychiatrist who had ordered the restraint/sedation/seclusion in a cell was one of the female psychiatrists at Hergest. Men do not have a monopoly on abusive behaviour towards women patients.

Among the documents recently released pertaining to my ‘care’ from the Hergest Unit, there is paperwork relating to one of the incidents involving me that was judged by the Hergest to be worthy of a ‘risk assessment’. It certainly makes interesting reading. There is a copy of the sheet documenting the ‘risk assessment’, with the signature of the nurse who completed the documentation. The document required the nurse to judge on a scale of 1 to 10 how ‘serious’ the incident was. The nurse had ringed the figure 2. However, someone had then made an alteration to this document and had crossed out by hand the figure 2 with a ring around it and had written in ‘8/9’. The person who had done this had very kindly dated the form – the date was quite sometime after the incident had occurred – and signed it. The signature was that of Anne Ward, one of the senior nurses at the Hergest Unit. Ann Ward was at one point suspended from her job, but a robust campaign by her colleagues soon saw her reinstated. Indeed, even Dr David Healy managed to detail the unjust treatment of poor Anne Ward on his blog. It might just be relevant that the incident documented on the form that Anne Ward altered formed the basis of a very serious complaint that my solicitor made to the Hergest Unit on my behalf. By the time that Anne Ward was rewriting history, we had made it clear that a complaint was going to be made.

The open letter to Jeremy Hunt mentions that staff should be trained in ‘de-escalation techniques’. Unfortunately a lot of staff abusing patients by the use of ‘restraint’ believe that they are. In the midst of my constant problems with the Hergest Unit on one occasion I asked the manager of the Unit, Alun Davies, why none of my or my solicitors letters were receiving responses. Alun Davies responded by standing in front of me and repeatedly bellowing ‘shut up’ at me. So not unsurprisingly my lawyer then wrote to him about his inappropriate conduct. Davies wrote back telling my a lawyer that a colleague who had witnessed this scene had ‘complimented’ him on his ‘de-escalation technique’. I can only presume that they were being sarcastic but Davies was too thick to realize.

The Hergest Unit is not alone in its novel interpretation of the notion of ‘restraint’. Some three years ago I spent a terrible few weeks at Parkhead Hospital in Glasgow. As far as I could see ‘restraint’ in that place was simply the signal for a punch-up involving as many staff as possible.

So as far as ‘restraint’, ‘risk assessments’ and ‘de-escalation’ go, staff doing the restraining, assessing or de-escalating fill in all the documentation and if they are Anne Ward return later and alter it if necessary. If the patient has been injured they’ll be kept in a locked ward and denied access to the police, or indeed any visitors at all, until the injuries are no longer visible. The denial of visitors in my case was due to me being ‘distressed’. I tried to phone the police to report the assault on me and my phone was forcibly removed and locked in the nurses office. I then tried to phone a friend using the ward phone and when they heard me talking about the ‘restraint’, Kate Madden cut the phone off and told me that I would not be allowed to ‘abuse’ the phone in such a way. I was not the only person subjected to these techniques – whenever ‘restraint’ occurred at Taliesin, a notice would be pinned on the door explaining that visitors were not allowed in because a patient was ‘distressed’. Visitors only appeared when that patient had agreed to stop referring to the ‘restraint’ in terms such as ‘they’ve hit me’. The patient’s version of the fight is never solicited yet alone documented and if the Hergest Unit is involved any complaints of assault subsequently made will never be investigated. Indeed after I complained about the sheer naked aggression of staff on Taliesin Ward, Keith Thomson, the CEO of the North West Wales NHS Trust, sent my lawyer a letter saying that patients often misinterpreted ‘restraint’ and that complaints of assault against staff in these circumstances were ‘common’. My lawyer responded by telling Thomson that if complaints of assault against staff were common, there was a substantial problem. I doubt that it sunk in.

But what of the signatories to this open letter to Jeremy Hunt? Well the first signatory is Katherine Sacks-Jones, who seems to be leading on this campaign. And straight after her is of course that illustrious ‘voice of the service users’, Paul Farmer, CEO of MIND (please see blog post ‘The Mysterious Silence of MIND’). But Paul has known just how serious this problem is for years. After I was assaulted and injured, I mean ‘restrained because I was distressed’, in Taliesin Ward I wrote to Paul Farmer (among others) who was at that point leading the charity Rethink. I heard nothing. I also wrote to MIND, just after Paul Farmer had arrived there as CEO. I received a very odd reply written as though it was to a child, explaining that what I had to do was go to the yellow pages, look up ‘solicitors’, choose one and go and tell them what had happened to me. They might as well have added ‘because we certainly aren’t interested, Paul has his enormous salary and future possible gong to think about’.