The Commissioning of ‘Parabl’ – and Yet More History

MPrevious posts on this blog have covered ‘Parabl’, a ‘talking therapies partnership’ operating across north Wales which is a joint enterprise between MIND and CAIS (please see ‘Newly Discovered – ‘Parabl’). Parabl’s remit is to provide ‘talking treatments’, including Mindfulness and Computerised CBT to people with ‘mild to moderate’ mental health difficulties. I have had a number of e mails from readers all telling me the same thing – that after being refused treatment from the mental health services in north Wales because they were not considered to be ill enough to warrant support, they then tried Parabl, only to be refused a service on the grounds that their difficulties were ‘too severe’. So there seems to be a lot of people falling between two stools who cannot get any care. One regular correspondent who is well networked is questioning to whom Parabl are actually offering a service – he has asked around and has not found anyone whom they have agreed to treat, everyone was subjected to the same tick-box ‘telephone assessment’ and was then turned down.

After reading my post ‘The Story Behind £1.5 Million’ which details the fix that was the ‘commissioning process’ by which the contract for ‘service user/carer involvement’ in north Wales was handed to CAIS/Hafal, a reader e mailed and asked me if I could find out anything about how ‘Parabl’ was offered a contract and what the sum of money involved was. I have today received a response to my FoI requests to the Betsi regarding these matters. I haven’t received enough information to build up a full picture – as ever crucial questions go unanswered – but I do have information which may be of interest to readers.

Parabl was commissioned directly by the ‘mental health service of the Health Board’ (ie. the Betsi)- so unlike the contract given to CAIS/Hafal for ‘service user/carer involvement’, Wrexham County Borough Council was not allowed to unilaterally make the decision as to who was commissioned. Only two organisations bid for the contract, that was Parabl and Cruse. Parabl are being paid £75,000 per quarter for their ‘service’ and during the first year of the contract they were paid an extra £15,000 pa on top of this. The FoI response describes the ‘services’ being provided as ‘including but not restricted to’: ‘comprehensive assessment and agreed planned interventions with an individual; self-help – bibliotherapy, mental health promotion and education; individual guided self-help programmes based on CBT principles; group based therapy- structured and evidence based, such as CBT; individual therapy – counselling, solution focussed therapy and support’.

I have also received a copy of the ‘Invitation To Tender’ document. It is mentioned that the ‘service must be of consistently high quality’ (well there’s a clause that will have been breached), driven by the Mental Health Measure (Wales) 2010, community based and provides an opportunity for integration between the statutory sector and the Third Sector. So the gravy train cometh – the Third Sector is dominated by people with close connections to the statutory sector or even people who have previously spent most of their careers in the statutory sector (eg. the Board of CAIS, which is nearly entirely comprised of people who worked in or still do work in the statutory sector, some of whom left under a very big cloud indeed; or people such as Robin Holden, a former Denbigh nurse who went on to work as a Hergest Unit manager who has now reconstructed himself as a ‘MIND executive’). So the ‘integration’ between the two sectors should be very easily achieved – there is substantial traffic between the two sectors and everyone will have a mate or a relative employed in the other sector. The ITT states that the service will ‘refer or signpost to specialist services’, such as CAIS for substance abuse services or Stepping Stones or RASA for survivors of sexual abuse. So whoever landed the contract was obliged to refer to dear old CAIS then. As for Stepping Stones and RASA – Stepping Stones is a Third Sector organisation based in Wrexham and RASA is based in Merseyside.

I know nothing about RASA, but Stepping Stones caught my attention some time ago, because they were offering a service to women and men who had experienced sexual abuse. I noticed this because it was a relatively recent development. For many, many years there was no service in north Wales for men who had been sexually abused. I knew this because I knew men with sexual problems who were being frozen out of all services when there was a suspicion that they had been sexually abused. There were services for women who had been sexually abused and there were actually two very good people who formerly worked at the Hergest Unit who were very skilled in helping women who had experienced sexual violence (not that either of them ever received any recognition – one was the nurse who ran the day centre that was closed down against patient’s wishes and the other was the Hergest whistleblower who was loathed and bullied by nearly everyone because he was making Public Interest Disclosures regarding the abuse and neglect of patients). Other people too offered ‘counselling’ for women and girls who had been or were thought to have been sexually abused, but these other people were doing something rather odd. I heard many reports that they were telling female patients that they ‘knew’ that they’d been sexually abused even when the patients insisted that they hadn’t. The more robust patients had stand-up rows with ‘therapists’ about this – but the more vulnerable patients ended up becoming very confused indeed and began to think that perhaps they had been sexually abused but had ‘repressed’ it. Indeed that’s what they were told had happened by the people who told them that they’d been sexually abused. Furthermore, I knew of situations where mental health professionals and ‘therapists’ were delighted when ‘disclosures’ were made and provided much encouragement and positive feedback. So in some instances there was a great deal of pressure on patients to ‘reveal’ sexual abuse and even to name ‘abusers’. I had been aware for many years that this was going on and my friend Brown and I had always suspected that it was a smokescreen for the sexual exploitation/abuse that was happening to patients at the hands of people employed by the health and social care services themselves. I have documentary evidence that patients who complained of inappropriate conduct on the part of Dr Dafydd Alun Jones were told that this was ‘transference’ and ‘projection’ as a result of sexual abuse in their earlier lives. This was also documented upon patient’s records without their knowledge. I had long since been aware of such fuckwittery happening, but about 15 years ago I came across a case that brought home the possible terrible consequences.

I got to know a family from Gwynedd with four teenaged daughters. The mum was effectively a single parent because her husband was in prison for sexually abusing the daughters. It was well-known locally that the mum had been horrified at events and ‘had no idea’ what her husband had been up to. All the daughters had been ‘counselled’ which is where they had ‘disclosed’ what their dad had done – the family had of course had extensive contact with Gwynedd Social Services and the mental health services. I then got to know the eldest daughter, who had suffered with bulimia and alcohol problems. I got to know her quite well and I never saw anything that suggested that she was deluded or a fantasist. She was bright, had trained as a teacher, but never spoke about her father at all and I never mentioned him to her. However I knew from a friend of her mother’s that the mental health services considered this young woman to be a very big problem indeed. Not because like so many of the rest of us that she had complained about them – she hadn’t. This young woman was a problem because she ‘wouldn’t admit’ that her father had abused her. It appeared that huge pressure had been put on her to make a witness statement against him but she consistently refused, maintaining that he had done no such thing. And this was taken as evidence of how unhinged she was. There was no other aspect of her life that indicated this – until after her dad went to prison, she began to develop eating problems and then hit the bottle. But when I knew her she was functioning very much better than an awful lot of other people that I knew who were suffering greatly – yet the mental health services weren’t coming near them, even when they were begging for a service. I do know however that she was under very great strain because of her job. She was working in a ‘nursing home’ for women who had been sexually abused and were serious self-harmers, a monstrous place where multiple abuses were occurring, an establishment that was part of a chain called Prestwood (please see previous post ‘A Convenient Arrangement With The Private Sector’ to read about the extensive horrors at Prestwood Homes).

This young woman was left to deal with very distressed other young women alone – she witnessed two of them try to kill themselves. But the managers of this home overseeing this regime of extreme abuse discovered that this young woman had bulimia and alcohol problems – they were threatening her that if she ever left their employment they would reveal her problems to future employers. I knew that she was very frightened of them because she told me. She was also being swindled by them – her mum couldn’t understand why she was working such long hours for such a pittance and was keen that she should leave this job. She did eventually escape their clutches but guess what – she never worked again. Her health then did start declining and her alcohol problem became very serious. She was a patient of Dr Richard Tranter’s at the Hergest Unit – she died of organ failure few years ago after being admitted to Ysbyty Gwynedd in a very bad way. I knew her closest friend who told me that Tranter had deemed her ‘untreatable’ – just like so many other patients who have died whilst in the care of the Hergest Unit! However what the ‘services’ don’t know is that this friend had received a letter from this young woman a few days before she died – it was a suicide note. I didn’t read this note, but I do know that everyone in this young woman’s circle of friends all noticed that what was being said about her by the mental health services was not consistent with what they knew of her. And they all speculate that perhaps her dad had been fitted up. But as so often is the case with controversies in the health and welfare services in north Wales, the key witness is dead.
So I’m aware of what can happen to those women on the receiving end of ‘counselling’ for sexual abuse. But as I mentioned, until recently there was no ‘service’ for men. I noticed from Stepping Stones’s website that they were established in 1986 – so presumably they too did not offer a service to men until more recently. It wasn’t only me who noticed that there was no service in north Wales for males who had been sexually abused. It was mentioned in the Jillings Report. The Jillings Report, written in 1996, was of course the first report into the activities of the north Wales paedophile ring – which targeted boys rather than girls. The Jillings Report maintained that the most dreadful abuses – physical, sexual and emotional – had been inflicted upon children in children’s homes in Clwyd in the 70s and 80s. It maintained that senior police officers and politicians may have been involved in perpetrating this abuse and that children who had complained about it were punished for making ‘false allegations’. By the time that Jillings reported, 12 children involved had died. Jillings’s team were subjected to so much aggro during their investigation that they considered resigning – the North Wales Police refused to co-operate with them. The Jillings Report was famously not made public in 1996 on the grounds that the local authorities insurers Municipal Mutual would withdraw cover so damning was the evidence. Some five years ago I had a shock when I realised that someone whom I knew through my academic work was the wife of the lawyer who had advised the local authorities in the wake of the Jillings Report – it was this man who advised them to make no comment on the grounds that what had happened was indefensible and to never release the Report. (He was also the lawyer who colluded with Lucille Hughes, Director of Gwynedd Social Services, over a number of years in a series of attempts to imprison me.) The local authorities had approached this man for advice because he was known to be a very sharp lawyer and they really needed someone to extract them from this barrel of shit. I was interested to learn though that this vile bunch showed no loyalty at all to the man who kept a lot of people out of prison – and who probably put a few innocent people in there as well if they dared challenge Lucille et al. Some years after saving their skins, he developed cancer. Ysbyty Gwynedd failed to diagnose it until he was very ill indeed. Following that he developed serious mental health problems – and was subjected to the same shite, negligent care that the rest of us were. I even recognised the name of one of the lacklustre CPNs that his wife mentioned – it was one of the women who had previously worked for the Arfon Community Mental Health Team and who had lied in Court in an attempt to have me imprisoned. She later went to work for the mental health team on Anglesey which was how she ended up being allocated to the team ‘caring’ for this man. This lawyer never worked again. I never told his wife that when I was young I too had been touched by the bunch of bastards that her husband had defended – and had nearly gone to prison because of the lies that her husband was coaching them all to tell about me. I really liked her and it was clear that she and her husband had been hung out to dry, although I’m not sure that she realised this. She was just baffled as to why the mental health services weren’t doing more for her husband. They were probably leaving him to top himself as was their ‘care plan’ for all the other people who had knowledge of what had been going on…

There was an attempt to destroy all copies of the Jillings Report but readers might remember that some copies later resurfaced in the wake of a BBC FoI request and were finally made public, although the Report was extensively redacted. When I read the Report, not only did I notice that the Report noted that there were no services in north Wales for males who had been sexually abused, but there were references to someone working in the Third Sector who seemed to have had a role in ensuring this. Their name was of course redacted, but from contextual evidence in the Report I have a suspicion that this was the person who was for many years the manager of the MIND centre in Abbey Road, Bangor and who then became a mental health social worker. Throughout her long and glorious career this person was told by ‘clients’ many times of the flagrant abuse that they were experiencing at the hands of the mental health services. She never said a word. I believe that she has now retired – congratulations Alison Greenaway, you’ve lived a lot longer than so many of the people that you were so committed to ‘helping’, as you traipsed among Bethesda’s hippy community impressing your husband’s friends with your good works… As for Stepping Stones, who for so long didn’t provide a service for males who had been sexually abused – well Stepping Stones is based in Wrexham. The same Wrexham that housed the Bryn Estyn children’s home where so many boys were sexually abused  in the 70s and 80s – a number of staff at Bryn Estyn were eventually imprisoned for abusing children in their care.

Back to the ITT for the ‘Parabl’ contract. It states that any ‘queries about procurement’ should be sent to the contact for ‘NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership – Procurement Services’, although my copy has redacted the name and e mail address of this person. However it would appear that their PA/administrator is a Kate Johnston. As part of the commissioning process the organisations bidding were interviewed – I get the impression from the ITT that this was a crucial deciding factor as to who the lucky winners would be. The copy of the ITT that I have been sent redacts the names of the people on the interviewing panel (probably because the Betsi are aware that this blog has previously named the people who rigged a previous ‘procurement process’ in favour of CAIS – please see post ‘The Story Behind £1.5 Million’). However it does give their roles, so perhaps readers might be able to identify the culprits. They are: ‘Category Buyer, Procurement Services, NWSSP’, ‘Partnership Development and Improvement Manager, BCUHB’, ‘Health and Social Care Facilitator, Flintshire Local Voluntary Council, ‘Programme Manager, Primary Care And Psychological Therapies’ (I presume that this is one Sean Clarke, the man who has previously been listed as holding this title and who seems to be a key agent in deciding who lands these lucrative Third Sector contracts. Sean also appears in the literature produced by the very same people that he commissioned, providing ‘positive feedback’ about the service), ‘Manager of Primary Care Counselling Services BCUHB’. And there were of course ‘service users’ on the interviewing panel, just to tick that box. Which is of course the easiest category of all to rig – those vulnerable, powerless service users who are completely dependent upon the ‘service’ that they are alleged to be holding to account. And as in north Wales MIND and CAIS are two producers of tame service users en masse – other service users are elbowed out by MIND and CAIS and of course MIND and CAIS are now the two organisations providing ‘training’ for service users, so it’s pretty much a closed shop. So the service users on this interviewing panel will almost certainly have been supplied by MIND and/or CAIS.

There is also information in the ITT that states that the successful bidder must provide, as part of the ‘service’, mindfulness sessions as approved by NICE. Which Third Sector organisation on a UK wide basis has been instrumental in promoting and indeed lobbying for mindfulness to be approved by NICE? None other than MIND.

So poor old CRUSE didn’t stand a chance when they bid for this contract did they.

I note that amongst the spiel directed at the bidders, the ITT warns them that all the information that they submit as part of their bid is subject to FoI disclosures, even if it is classified as ‘commercially sensitive’. I have blogged about Parabl in response to readers who have e mailed me with concerns asking me to dig further. Those readers are much more au fait with Parabl than I am, because they have actually tried getting a service out of them. So if anyone has any further questions regarding Parabl’s activity that they think could be answered by further FoI requests, please do e mail me with your ideas and I’ll follow it up.

One further observation from the reader who first alerted me to the scam that is Parabl. I have recently had an e mail exchange with him regarding the many aspects of the con that is ‘service user/peer support’. We both concluded that it is a fantastic source of free labour provided by homeless people/people with mental health problems/drug problems for the likes of CAIS. They are all marginalised people trying to regain society’s acceptance, a class of people that sociologist Loic Wacquant described as ‘dishonoured’ – so they’re not going to be blowing the whistle on any wrongdoing at CAIS. My correspondent has drawn my attention to an article from the Daily Mail that must have been manna from heaven to a Daily Mail journalist – it has a headline referring to a ‘Millionaire Gypsy’ who kept ‘Homeless Drug Addicts As Slaves’. He has pointed out that this describes CAIS’s activities. It certainly does. Furthermore, Dr Dafydd Alun Jones, Chair of CAIS, is undoubtedly a millionaire by now but he did come from very humble origins in Bethesda. In a flattering profile of Jones’s early years in a local newspaper some time ago, it was stated that ‘the family originally came from Bethesda but travelled around a lot’. Yes Brown observed, probably every time that the bailiffs moved them on. Surely it is now time for Dafydd and his old sweetheart Lucille Hughes to tie the knot and celebrate with the ultimate Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. Lucille could even buy herself a decent wig for the occasion, along with a totally over the top dress studded with crystals and a 100 foot train. Dafydd was known for his parties at his place in Talwrn, parties to which some very dodgy people were invited, because no professional people wanted to be seen within a mile of him, even those who worked so hard to conceal his criminal activities. Dafydd could hold the biggest piss-up followed by a brawl in a tent that Talwrn has ever witnessed.