I Don’t Believe It!

The main stars of this post have both feet in the grave rather than just one, but their poisonous legacy lingers on.

In my post ‘A Bit More Paleontology’ I mentioned that one of the many old pupils from Bishop Gore School (formerly Swansea Grammar) who had achieved great eminence was Professor John Howell, President of the BMA, 1989-90. As detailed on previous posts, at this time the Top Doctors in the mental health services in north Wales were busy perjuring themselves in an attempt to have me imprisoned, actually documented their plans to do this and cc’d those plans to their partners in crime in various senior NHS and Social Services posts. In the case of Dr Tony Francis (Dr X), he was using the services of the MDU and Welsh Office lawyers to frame me – although the MDU lawyer, Ann Ball, was telling him not to proceed with litigation against me and the Welsh Office lawyer, Andrew Park, admitted that there was no evidence that I had committed the offences that Francis was alleging. Ann Ball and Andrew Park were well aware that I was raising concerns about Francis and his colleagues being involved in criminal activities – I spoke to Ann Ball about this myself on the telephone. Francis was also cc’ing the BMA into much of his correspondence. The BMA whilst John Howell was President.

John Howell was known as Jack. He died in 2015 and a Diana Brighouse wrote the BMJ’s obituary of him. Diana was one of his former students at Southampton. Diana explained that Jack Howell told her that if ever she needed advice or was concerned about anything, she could always go to him. I bet he did – that is the time honoured method which is used by Top Doctors to identify potential whistleblowers among medical students or junior doctors and get rid of them fast using methods of which they will be unaware and will probably only find out about years later – as I have discovered myself… Diana mentioned that Jack emphasised to her and the other students how important it is to persuade their patients to trust them and he showed them the way by sitting next to patients and asking them where they lived, what they did for a living etc. I remember it well – the corrupt Dr D.G.E. Wood pumped me for info regarding Brown and me and used it to stuff us over, as did Tony Francis. ‘For God’s sake don’t trust me, I’m a doctor facilitating a paedophile gang and the sexual exploitation of patients.’ Diana mourned not only Jack but the sort of medicine that he practiced. I’ve got news for Diana – she has nothing to worry about, Jack’s style of medicine is alive and kicking, even if Jack isn’t. Intriguingly Diana mentioned that all the students called Howell ‘whispering Jack’.

Jack Howell was the co-founder of Southampton Medical School. He was born in Swansea in 1926 and qualified at the Middlesex Hospital in 1950. He was Senior Lecturer and Consultant at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, 1960-69 and in 1969 was appointed Foundation Professor of Medicine at Southampton. He was President of the British Thoracic Society, 1988-89 and Chairman of Southampton District Health Authority, 1983-98.

Jack Howell was a friend and colleague of Donald Acheson who was UK Chief Medical Officer, 1983-91. Acheson was also involved in the foundation and development of Southampton Medical School. Acheson was President of the BMA in 1996-97 – as the Waterhouse Inquiry was launched and began taking evidence. Acheson also trained at the Middlesex Hospital and was a similar vintage to Howell. Dr T. Gwynne Williams, the lobotomist who worked at the North Wales Hospital Denbigh and who assisted Dr Dafydd Alun Jones and Dr Tony Francis in concealing the North Wales Paedophile Ring, trained at the Middlesex Hospital. He was slightly older than Acheson and Howell but the Middlesex has loyal alumni – as do all medical schools – and they will have all known each other. Donald Acheson helped the Tory Gov’t out of a pickle whilst Thatcher’s aide Sir Peter Morrison MP – among others – were abusing children in care in north Wales (see post Professor Prestigious And His Associates’).

Both I and an embryologist who was a graduate of Aberystwyth University had very odd experiences when we were interviewed for jobs at Southampton Medical School’s newly created IVF Unit in 1989. I suspect that part of the explanation for this was my raising concerns about what was going on in north Wales at the time as well as wrongdoing in Southampton Medical School which the people interviewing us feared that we might notice. Please see post ‘Professor Prestigious And His Associates’ for full details.

Donald Acheson had – quite incredibly considering what he concealed during his career – carried out work on health inequalities whilst he was CMO. He was assisted in this by one Michael Marmot, now Professor Michael Marmot, the go-to man globally where health inequalities are concerned – I suspect that Acheson and Marmot’s earth shattering contribution to this research is the reason why health inequalities remain stubbornly with us (see post ‘Professor Prestigious And His Associates’). Tony Blair commissioned Acheson to Chair an Inquiry into inequalities in health in 1997 and then in 2008 Gordon Brown commissioned Marmot to review health inequalities. Marmot worked at UCL and was President of the BMA, 2010-11. UCL has a flagship health inequalities unit led by Michael Marmot – which is ‘supported’ by the Department of Health and the BMA.

In 1987 the Middlesex Hospital and UCL merged. The senior administrator who worked at the Court of the University of London who oversaw that merger was Ann Widdecombe. Despite having such a senior job, London University were most helpful to Honest Ann when she was seeking a Conservative seat – she was allowed extensive paid leave to campaign and was even given the use of a member of the secretarial staff from London University to assist her. Widdecombe was also overtly encouraged and supported by her boss at the University when she was involved in covert activity opposing CND. The Anglesey Conservative Association were particularly eager to snare Widdecombe as their Parliamentary candidate. Details of Widdecombe’s extraordinary path to Westminster may be read in my post ‘Doris Karloff – Honest About Her Expenses But Not Much Else’.

Another old boy of Swansea Grammar who was of a similar vintage to Jack Howell was Lord Brian Flowers, who became Rector of Imperial College and then Vice-Chancellor of the University of London. My post ‘A Bit More Paleontology’ provides an account of Flowers’ career. I mentioned that Flowers was running the University of London whilst there was endemic misconduct and research fraud occurring at RPMS (Royal Postgraduate Medical School)/Hammersmith Hospital (see post ‘A Cause Close To Our Hearts’) and whilst St George’s Hospital Medical School employed Oliver Brooke – a key figure in a pan-European paedophile ring who was imprisoned for the possession of child porn – as their Professor of Paediatrics. Flowers was in post whilst the University of London was doing all it could to ensure that Ann Widdecombe became a Tory MP.

Whilst I was a postgrad at RPMS, I was told by a fellow student who’s husband was a member of staff there that it was known that one particularly questionable academic at RPMS – even by the standards of RPMS  – was Professor Julia Polak. Polak was famed for her utter ruthlessness. She was a Top Doctor who had qualified in Argentina but her qualification wasn’t recognised in the UK. When she arrived in the UK she was taken under the wing of one of the few really decent academics at RPMS who gave her research facilities and helped her to build her career. When he retired and wanted to remain as an Emeritus Professor – by which time Polak was managing the department – Polak refused him any facilities. I was told by more than one person that Polak would do anything to make a name for herself and that she was believed to be committing even more audacious research fraud than many of her colleagues. I met one person who had been shafted by her whilst a PhD student.

A few years after I left London, Julia Polak became famous. She was the centre of a story worthy of the script writers of ‘Holby City’. In the 1990s Polak had begun to feel a little unwell. Nothing serious or too worrying, just a bit of breathlessness really. At the time Polak was working with Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub, the transplant surgeon at Harefield Hospital, researching ways of improving the treatment of patients with pulmonary hypertension.  Julia mentioned that she had been experiencing a bit of breathlessness and her colleagues urged her to get herself checked out. After a while she reluctantly agreed to be examined by one of her colleagues at RPMS/Hammersmith Hospital – specifically who does not seem to be public knowledge. To her absolute amazement, not only was she suffering from exactly the same condition on which she and Yacoub were working  – pulmonary hypertension – but she was seriously ill as a result of it! In fact she was at death’s door and Magdi recommended a heart and lung transplant. Julia was most reluctant to agree, but after a short while she realised that it was the only answer. She was whisked off to Harefield Hospital where she waited nearly two months in intensive care for organs to become available. The call came at 2am whilst she was on a weekend visit home – so back into Harefield she went and in 1995 the life-saving surgery was performed by the great man himself. Julia laid low for a few weeks, but once she was back on her feet, she realised that her life’s work was now to Discover A Cure for lung disease.

Julia set about publicising Her True Story, founded the Julia Polak Lung Transplant Fund and then along with her colleague Larry Hench she established and later led the Centre for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine at Imperial College – RPMS/Hammersmith and the other London medical schools were merged with Imperial College at the behest of Lord Brian Flowers. Magdi Yacoub joined Julia’s new Centre.  Julia’s Story became the basis for a novel by Rosemary Friedman, ‘Intensive Care’. So business-like was Julia about her Life’s Work that she even produced her own old diseased lungs to show to students at RPMS.

Julia was made. She became Dame Julia and advised on Parliamentary Committees. She obtained funding from the Texas/UK Collaborative Research Initiative in Biosciences. Sadly in 2014 she died of ‘undisclosed causes’. At the time of her death at 75 years old, Dame Julia was one of the world’s longest surviving heart and lung transplant patients.

So someone with a reputation for being prepared to murder her grandmother if it would advance her, as well as for research fraud, who worked in an institution in which misconduct was endemic and in which other senior academics were known to be carrying out research fraud, managed to suddenly develop the condition which she was researching which was only diagnosed by an unidentified colleague in the fraud-plagued institution in which she worked herself, then nearly died of the condition which she was researching which had been diagnosed by her colleague, then made a Lazarusesque recovery after a double transplant performed by another colleague – which took place at 2am at the weekend, so there won’t have been that many people around to witness or indeed not witness the operation. In the wake of all this, a novel is written, heart-tugging charities are set up and the millions roll in. The benefactors are the institution which employed in a senior position everybody involved with saving Julia’s life and of course Julia, Magdi and their colleagues, including Lord Brian Flowers. As for the displaying of the diseased lungs to the students – diseased organs are ten a penny at RPMS, whilst I was a postgrad there we were given them to dissect every day. Organs and other specimens are frequently kept by hospitals without consent and sometimes unlawfully. When I worked at St George’s I came across a foetus in a jar and I asked the dreadful Dr Cathy Wilson – who’s lab this was in – the age of the foetus (because it looked fully formed) and she shrieked at me. Probably because that foetus should not have been in a jar sitting in her lab and she knew it.

Lest anyone unfamiliar with the everyday story of medical school folk have difficulty believing that Polak et al could ever get away with a fraud as substantial as the one that I suspect them of having committed, I wanna tell you a story to quote Max Bygraves.

Some two years after I left St Georges and their criminal wrongdoing behind, I read in the ‘Indie’ and the ‘Guardian’ that a consultant at St George’s had made history by saving an ectopic pregnancy. He had carried out an operation in which he had transferred the embryo from the Fallopian tube into the uterus, the pregnancy had progressed to term and had resulted in the birth of a healthy baby. The consultant who had performed this miracle was Malcom Pearce, who had been my boss at St George’s. Malcolm Pearce was very energetic and cleverer than a lot of his colleagues and I didn’t think was as poisonous as many of them, but people did used to grumble about him and his excessive drinking and there were whispers that a Chair in the US was going to be found for Malcolm before he somehow disgraced himself at St George’s. So when I read about the miracle that Malcolm had performed I presumed that he had sorted the boozing and had achieved something. In 1994 a huge scandal blew up at St George’s. It transpired that Malcolm had not performed the operation which he claimed. He hadn’t even attempted to perform it. He had made the whole thing up and published it. It was never made clear how Malcolm’s fraud was uncovered, but once it was, Sir William Asscher the ‘absolute bastard’ (to quote a former colleague) who was the Dean of St George’s conducted an inquiry. It was found that Malcolm had doctored (so to speak) medical records and had fabricated the results of some other clinical trials. Malcolm was subsequently struck off.

The question that I have always been interested in is why was Malcolm Pearce hung out to dry for doing something that huge swathes of his colleagues were doing – research fraud – and for doing a lot less than some others – for example facilitating a paedophile ring in north Wales…

When Malcolm’s fraud became public, everyone followed the line of ‘We’re shocked and disgusted and we knew nuzzin…’ Well did no-one wonder where the baby that Malcom had successfully saved was? This was a medical first, surely that baby would have been of interest. As would be the baby’s mum. Where was she? What about the rest of the team who had looked after the mother and baby? Where were they? What about the theatre staff who would have been present at the medical miracle? There must have been some degree of collusion on the part of at least some other members of staff.

Somebody else suffered badly from the fall-out over Malcolm’s fantasy, but not as badly as Malcolm did – Professor Geoffrey Chamberlain, the Professor and the Head of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Dept at St George’s and at the time President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Chamberlain had co-authored the paper with Malcolm. Chamberlain gave evidence at Malcolm’s GMC hearing, blamed the whole business on Malcolm and made a few Dr Finlayesque comments about having trusted Malcolm and having been dreadfully let down by him. Chamberlain didn’t get the knighthood that he was expected to be in line for, but he wasn’t struck off or disciplined in any way.

I confess to having been very slow on the uptake about this matter. I have blogged about all it previously and because I have been so pre-occupied with why Malcolm was thrown to the wolves when others were doing so much worse, I have missed the obvious. Chamberlain CO-AUTHORED THE PAPER. Of course Chamberlain too would have wanted to meet the mother and baby involved – Chamberlain was famously sociable and clubbable, the patients loved him and he had a Harley Street practice with celeb patients as well. He would have wanted to be photographed with that baby and to have featured in feel-good stories.

Geoffrey Chamberlain was in on that fraud but he was the one who got away. Surprise Surprise!

Chamberlain was Welsh. His father Albert was Secretary to the Lord Mayor of Cardiff. Chamberlain went to Llandaff Cathedral School, Cowbridge Grammar School and then read medicine at UCL. He trained at RPMS, GOSH, Queen Charlottes and Chelsea Hospital for Women and King’s College Hospital, London. He was Professor of Obs and Gynae at St George’s, 1982-95. Between 2000-08 he lectured in the history of medicine at Swansea University.

Between 1955-74 Geoffrey Chamberlain served with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and reached the rank of surgeon commander. Gwynne the lobotomist who facilitated the paedophile ring in north Wales had also spent a number of years as a surgeon in the Royal Navy.

Geoffrey Chamberlain had been a colleague of and was on good terms with Oliver Brooke. Oliver Brooke’s stash of child porn was discovered in the cupboards of an office in St George’s.

 

We cannot ask Geoffrey Chamberlain to explain his wrongdoing because he is now dead. However I believe that his wife, another Top Doctor, Professor Jocelyn Chamberlain, is still alive. Jocelyn spent much of her career involved with the cervical screening programme – another field of medicine in which lies have been told. In the 1970s Jocelyn Chamberlain worked at the Middlesex Hospital.

The victims of and witnesses to the paedophile ring in north Wales were found dead Jocelyn. Time for you to make a police statement before you too are no longer with us. Perhaps you’d also like to tell us why Malcolm Pearce was lynched – was he about to grass you all up? Because Malcolm Pearce was finished off at the same time as Gordon Anglesea the former senior officer with the North Wales Police was awarded nearly £400k damages after he was accused of sexually abusing boys in care in north Wales and as investigations into the possibility of a paedophile ring in north Wales began. In 2016 Gordon Anglesea was imprisoned for historical sexual offences against boys in care in north Wales. Weeks after giving evidence against Anglesea, the young man who accused him of abuse was found dead.

Every summer the Chamberlains used to hold a garden party at their house in Wimbledon. One of their neighbours was George Carman QC, the corrupt barrister who knew about the north Wales paedophile ring (see posts ‘No Ordinary Methods’ and ‘No Ordinary Methods – Supplementary Post’). Just down the road in Wandsworth lived Michael Mansfield, the radical lawyer who also studiously ignored anything to do with the north Wales paedophile ring (see post ‘Workers’ Play Time’).

 

News Round Up, August 24 2017

Recently the Morning Star ran a critique of the notion of ‘Mental Health First Aid’ courses. I was greatly pleased to read it, because I’ve long been of the opinion that ‘Mental Health First Aid’ is dangerous simplistic nonsense and as the Morning Star argued, it is being used to absolve the Gov’t of their responsibilities to people with mental health problems. ‘Mental Health First Aid’ is never going to address the problems of seriously ill people but it could lead to a false level of confidence among the folk who have been ‘trained’ with regard to their ability to solve the problems of people in serious distress and lead to the First Aiders being in danger of seriously screwing up. The Morning Star introduced the old chestnut of ‘more money for mental health services’ – there’s not a lot of point in giving the mental health services more money at the moment, it will just be metaphorically pissed up against the wall along with the rest of the money that they’ve already swallowed. There is no point giving them more money to do more of what doesn’t work. The Morning Star however did make the salient point that the Gov’t would be better off concentrating on matters like suitable housing for people with mental health problems, with which I would completely agree. People are subjected to expensive ‘treatment’ which is frequently ineffective or even abusive, yet their basic needs such as accommodation and income is being ignored.

The Daily Post Online has been brimming over with stories of serious problems regarding homelessness in north east Wales. It was reported that Flintshire Council have put a load of homeless people up in the Pontins Holiday Camp at Prestatyn. Flintshire Council have stated that their homeless service is at ‘breaking point’ – in Sept 2016 there were 1,600 people on the waiting list. Flintshire Council may be at breaking point, but Wrexham County Borough Council has actually broken. An ‘encampment’ of homeless people has been established on the site of the old Grove School in Wrexham – there’s a lot of people there and they’re living in tents. The Council has delivered some portaloos to the site, but Nigel Lewis, the Chairman of Wrexham Town Centre Forum, maintains that the facilities at the encampment are insufficient. He points out that the Third sector and the Council have failed to solve this problem and that a different approach is needed. Mr Lewis wants Wrexham to take a leaf out of Bristol’s book and house the tent-dwellers in shipping containers once winter arrives. Mr Lewis seems to have suggested this because he knows that there’s no chance of houses for any of them. What have we come to when moving into a shipping container is a step up? I know that a creative artist could, with time and a bit of money, probably work on a shipping container and convert it into a unique and interesting home, but I don’t think anyone’s going to do that for the people living on the site of Grove School. I suspect that what will happen is that a job lot of shipping containers – probably acquired on the cheap – will be unceremoniously parked on a brownfield site somewhere and that will be the ‘housing’. Furthermore, it will probably then be argued that anyone living in a shipping container is now ‘housed’ and they’ll never be offered anything else. If they move out of the shipping container, they’ll be deemed to have voluntarily made themselves homeless and they’ll never be allowed on a housing waiting list again.

It’s particularly ironic that these stories have emerged, because earlier on I was browsing through Hansard and I came across the account of the Commons Welsh Affairs sitting of 28 Feb 1984, the annual ‘Welsh Day’. Lord Crickhowell aka Nicholas Edwardes, the then Secretary of State for Wales – star of posts ‘I Want Serious Money Now Please’ and ‘Corruption Bay Special’ – was speaking and being questioned by a number of Welsh MPs. Dafydd Elis-Thomas and other MPs were doing all that they could to tell Edwardes that if the Conservative Gov’t did not start investing in a bigger council house building programme, there would be a crisis in future years. Edwardes, in true Minister-of-Thatcher’s style, was having none of it and boasted about the Tories’ successful housing policies. If you’d built those houses Edwardes, there wouldn’t be people living in tents looking forward to moving into a shipping container when the inclement weather arrives.

Edwardes was also challenged by furious Welsh MPs who were quoting the figures relating to the problems that Wales had encountered since Edwardes became Secretary of State in 1979 in terms of the thousands of people who were unemployed, the number of major employers who had shut shop etc. Edwardes responded by using the discourse of ‘change’, that some businesses would die, some would grow, that failing firms would collapse but nonetheless the economy was growing, that ‘failure and closure go hand in hand with success and growth’ and that Wales had to ‘adapt to change’. Furthermore, under the Tories new technology based businesses would soon be erupting into life all over Wales, just like Silicon Valley. I’m still waiting Nicholas – they haven’t arrived yet. Edwardes’ warned everyone that there would be closures in the south Wales coalfield but they were of course necessary. He was however delighted to announce a huge new investment in the steel works at Port Talbot – although they’re about to go tits-up down there thirty years later under another Tory Gov’t.

Edwardes’ pride and glory though, the enormous ‘investment’ that he banged on about at length to explain how much Thatcher’s Gov’t was doing for Wales, was something that he called the ‘south Cardiff initiative’ – yes, Edwardes was hailing the arrival of Corruption Bay, the massive scam that I have detailed previously on this blog, from which Nicholas Edwardes and some of his friends made a mint because they were directors of the businesses and quangos who were central to the development. My interest in Corruption Bay was aroused by the Welsh blogger Jac O The North who provides full details on his blog – Jac has always argued that Edwardes and his mates had the whole thing planned out years before they joined the contracted companies as Directors and raked in the profits from the publicly funded bonanza themselves. In the light of the comments that Edwardes made in the Commons on Feb 28 1984, it rather looks as though Jac is spot on. All the proposed ingredients are mentioned by Edwardes – the millions and millions of Gov’t dosh that would be available for the ‘initiative’, the availability of dosh from the ‘urban development grant’ and the names of the companies chosen by ABP and LAW to carry out the work. Edwardes trumpets the central theme of the ‘initiative’ as being a ‘collaboration between the public and private sectors’. That’s right Edwardes, you planned the ‘collaboration’ whilst you were in office, you gave the green light to the huge amount of public money that was given to the quangos involved – quangos on which your friends and business partners were sitting – then once work was underway, you resigned from office, shuffled off into the Lords and then joined the Boards of the companies that your mates on the quangos had contracted to do the work.

Edwardes mentions that the famously corrupt WDA would be building the first centre for advanced technology at Deeside Industrial Park. The plan was for this centre to house Newtech, ‘an organisation for technical research, development and innovation formed jointly by Clwyd County Council and NEWI’. Edwardes stated that Newtech had recently received urban programme backing from the Gov’t. This all sounds very familiar. My post ‘A Vampire At Glyndwr University!’ detailed the backgrounds of the Chancellor and some of the governors at Glyndwr University (previously NEWI). There are multiple conflicts of interest in evidence – there is obviously an extensive game of musical chairs going on in north east Wales, with a network of people log jamming all the positions in the County Councils, the Boards of local companies, the Council of Glyndwr University, the Magistrates Bench etc. The people in those positions today have been circulating around for decades – some of them will have benefited from the investment in Deeside that Edwardes announced in 1984.

Keith Raffan, the Tory MP for Delyn, paid tribute to Edwardes and his colleagues at the Welsh Office regarding the setting up of the Delyn enterprise zone in Flint – there had been over £8.2 million in land reclamation. They had also received an urban programme grant of more than £1 million – much more than the local borough had expected. Raffan felt that this was  confirmation of the ‘excellent management’ of the borough.

But guess what else is recorded in Hansard? That there is a serious financial crisis in Clwyd County Council. They were flat broke and had to dip into their reserves. The situation is so dire that the Council planned an enormous rise in the rates, so high that it caused a row in Parliament. Nonetheless the Chief Executive’s office alone employs 34 staff and redundancies are not suggested. The Chief Exec in 1984 was Mervyn Phillips. Who was in charge of the Clwyd County Council that were running the dreadful mental health services and the children’s homes where children were being abused and trafficked into prostitution. Clwyd County Council were not spending their money on health or the social services. So where was it going? I have previously provided examples on this blog of occasions when funds from Clwyd Council had been embezzled and of Chief Execs of Clwyd who somehow managed to liberate huge sums of money to prop up the charities with which they were involved – which resulted in some of them receiving gongs. For the full details see post ‘Ain’t Nothing Clean – Not Even The Welsh Calvinistic Methodists’. In this post though I will confine myself to mentioning that one of the most serious offenders, Mervyn Phillips, was a Director of Bodelwyddan Castle Trust. Hansard 28 Feb 1984 records angry MPs raising questions about the ‘extravagant amount’ that was spent on Bodelwyddan Castle to transform it into a tourist attraction.

The Welsh Office knew about the paedophile gang that was operating in Clwyd, the wider Tory Party openly discussed the fact that Sir Peter Morrison the MP for Chester was sexually abusing boys and was visiting children’s homes in Clwyd. The Welsh Office were concealing both the abuse of children in north Wales and the abuses of the mental health services who were facilitating the paedophile ring. So Edwardes was faced with a bankrupt Council who ran the children’s homes that were trafficking children into prostitution – to other MPs as well as Morrison. At the same time he was giving huge quantities of public money to businesses on Deeside and in Flint – which were run by some of the same people who ran the Council, the Social Services and the Health Authority that facilitated the paedophile gang. People who also packed the benches of the local Magistrates Courts – no wonder so few of the members of the paedophile gang were convicted but so many of their victims were.

One doesn’t have to be a genius to conclude that the financial mismanagement of the Council and indeed overt theft by people in Clwyd County Council was being overlooked by a Welsh Office who rewarded them with millions in ‘grant aid’ – as long as the criminals in that Council’s ‘children’s services’ continued to supply the fresh meat to the Westminster Paedophile Ring…

One of the names mentioned in Hansard was that of the Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Wyn Roberts. Wyn told the Commons how good the prospects of a child born in 1979 would be, such a babe being born under the reign of Queen Maggie. Unless of course they were taken into care Wyn or found themselves in need of a mental health service… In Feb 1984 Wyn Roberts was plain old Mr. He soon became Sir and eventually became Lord. No-one in north Wales ever understood why Wyn Roberts was thought so highly of that he ended up in the Lords – particularly as he never made it to Secretary of State. It’s not as if he ever addressed the problems of the mental health services that constituents like me took to him. He never even raised concerns about the paedophile gang! Ah – I think I understand…

Another name that I recognised popped up in Hansard as well. Edwardes told the House that the Kidney Research Unit for Wales Foundation and the private sector had been invited to submit tenders alongside NHS proposals for the NHS to operate two proposed dialysis units, one in Carmarthen and one at Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor. The schemes for these units were to be evaluated by one Professor William Asscher, Professor of Renal Medicine at the University of Cardiff Medical School. William Asscher approved the unit for Ysbyty Gwynedd and shortly afterwards landed a senior position in St George’s Hospital Medical School – where I was hounded out of a job in 1991 at the same time as psychiatrists from St George’s Hospital Medical School colluded with psychiatrists in north Wales to have me labelled as ‘dangerous’, although the St George’s psychiatrists were aware that psychiatrists in north Wales were sexually exploiting patients and were involved in criminal activities. One source of information regarding my dangerousness was Lucille Hughes, the Director of Gwynedd Social Services who was later named in the Waterhouse Report as knowing that a paedophile ring was operating in the social services but not acting on that knowledge. Lucille was the mistress of Dr Dafydd Alun Jones – one of the psychiatrists who was sexually exploiting patients, breaking the law and telling St George’s that I was dangerous! The other psychiatrist from north Wales who told St George’s how dangerous I was, was Dr Tony Francis (Dr X). He was a graduate of Cardiff Medical School, had spent a number of years working there post-qualification and worked at Ysbyty Gwynedd whilst William Asscher gave the go-ahead for the renal unit. My post ‘Running The Country – And All That Jazz’ explains how St George’s Hospital was a foundation that had originally been established by a donation from the Duke of Westminster. In the 1980s, the then Duke of Westminster was the president of the City of Chester Conservative Association. The fact that their MP Peter Morrison was molesting children was openly gossiped about among members of the Association (see post ‘It’s The Sun Wot Won It’). It’s a small world – especially if there’s a paedophile ring which is part of an organised criminal gang with international connections supplying children to Westminster figures that needs concealing…

It is noticeable that the areas of Wales that were suffering so much under Edwardes – represented by some of the angry MPs who were trying to make him understand the damage that his Gov’t was doing – are the areas of Wales that remain wrecked today and are still the subject of regular political discussions regarding the disadvantage found in the communities within them.

 

Yesterday the Daily Post Online ran a feature on a local hero – a Top Doctor from Denbighshire, Professor Bim Bhowmick. Bim was described as being 77 years old with a ‘long and successful career behind him’. It was mentioned that Bim was a geriatrician and former Medical Director of Ysbyty Glan Clwyd. Not only is Ysbyty Glan Clwyd as mismanaged and as riddled with corruption as Ysbyty Gwynedd, but the wards for the elderly have been notorious for years. They are so bad that staff working at YGC warn friends not to allow their relatives to be admitted there. It was the ‘institutional abuse’ of elderly mentally ill patients in Tawel Fan ward in YGC that caused the Welsh Gov’t to place the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in special measures. Patients were crawling around naked on floors covered in urine and faeces whilst staff swore at them and discussed their sex lives. One patient was found to have a broken arm. It transpired that a nurse had previously raised concerns about conditions on the ward, but had been confronted by a doctor saying that he ‘didn’t want any more complaints’. The case of Tawel Fan was the biggest scandal involving care of the elderly that there has been for many years and the ward has been shut down. The nurse who eventually blew the whistle was sacked. No member of staff involved in abusing the patients has been disciplined or prosecuted.

Perhaps standards of elderly care at YGC have simply slipped since Bim was put out to grass? Not really. My post ‘How Much Do Staff Surveys Really Tell Us?’ details how some years ago a retired professor from Bangor University, Clare Wenger, was so horrified at what she witnessed when she was admitted to a ward for the elderly at YGC that she wrote a detailed report noting every incident of abuse and neglect and sent it to over 100 academic contacts and NHS officials. Clare Wenger was denounced as a stuck up cow doing down our wonderful NHS. Clare Wenger’s specialism was the care  and support of elderly people. Unlike Bim she didn’t work at YGC so didn’t need to lie about conditions there. Furthermore Clare Wenger actually has a track record of high calibre academic research which Bim, for all his ‘long and successful career’, doesn’t seem to have.

In spite of being Medical Director of the worst geriatric services in north Wales – and probably in the whole of Wales – Bim tells a good story and has managed to do alright for himself.

Bim came from a wealthy family in Bengal but left during the troubled time of partition in India. Bim’s family were targeted because they were wealthy and Bim left India before the rest of his family. Bim’s father’s parting words to him were – when Bim was 6 years old – ‘be a good doctor’. When Bim grew up he lived his father’s dream and studied medicine – Bim had to ‘beg’ a friend of his father’s to pay his fees. Bim triumphed and qualified. In 1969 Bim arrived in the UK. A BBC News Online report from July 2006 tells us that in 1974 Bim decided to settle in north Wales and worked as a consultant at HM Stanley Hospital St Asaph. Somehow, although Bim’s a geriatrician, ‘as a young doctor he developed a special interest in stroke care and progressed to become one of Britain’s foremost experts’ and ‘in 1989 he established a stroke rehab unit as YGC’. This is as puzzling as Bim’s expertise in gerontology. Stroke care in Wales as a whole was so bad that some years ago the Welsh Assembly Gov’t imported some stroke specialists from England in order to build a service for Wales. Stroke care in north Wales was the worst of the lot – there was no specialist service. One of the English imports got into a spat with someone because he was unable to deliver a service in Welsh and in his defence commented that ‘at present a service in Japanese would be an improvement because there is no service’. Stroke patients in north Wales had some of the worst outcomes in the UK – they were dropping like flies because they weren’t getting treatment soon enough. In a lot of cases no-one had even diagnosed them correctly.

I am wondering if Bim is rather like Dr Dafydd Alun Jones who told the local newspapers that he was ‘Europe’s leading forensic psychiatrist’ when he wasn’t even a forensic psychiatrist.

For some reason, after excelling in north Wales, in 2006 Bim departed for Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust where he became Clinical Director of Torfaen Intermediate Care Services. Bim retired in 2009.

Bim really did reach the dizziest of heights however. In 2003 Cardiff University offered him a Chair and a Fellowship. He was also offered a Fellowship by Glyndwr University. In 2009 he was given a Lifetime Achievement award from NHS Wales. He was a runner up for the Bevan Prize for his outstanding contribution to the health and wellbeing of the elderly. In 2000 he was awarded an OBE for his contribution to elderly care services in Wales. Bim won the Founder’s Medal from the British Geriatrics Society in 2005.

Bim is now Emeritus Consultant Physician for the elderly in YGC as well as Clinical Director of Medicine and Associate Postgraduate Dean, Wales. He helped initiate and Chairs the Equality and Diversity Committee of the Royal College of Physicians.

Bim is a Board Member of the Bevan Commission, which is dedicated to ‘promoting health and health services in Wales’. The Bevan Commission informs us that he has been ‘delivering excellence and innovation in geriatric medicine within the NHS for over 48 years’. So that’s why geriatric care is usually so shite and why geriatrics is the least desirable speciality among medical graduates.

Bim has even invented a model of care – and has called it after himself. It’s the BIM – the Bhowmick Innovative Model, bringing acute medical care to elderly patients in their own homes. It reduces bed blocking and introduces significant savings. It’s also a very well-kept secret, because the last I heard there was a crisis in the care of elderly people at home. Nonetheless Bim won the UK BUPA ‘charity’ medical research prize and was a finalist in the BMJ awards.

In Oct 2015 Bim gave a public lecture as part of a programme organised by Bangor University, Grwp Llandrillo Menai and supported by Public Health Service Wales: ‘The Elderly In Illness: Hospital Or Home Treatment With Dignity’. Well they certainly got that in Tawel Fan – as did Clare Wenger when she was given an enema on an open ward in Ysbyty Glan Clwyd whilst she was on the receiving end of a bit of Bim’s excellence.

Bim is of course a governor of Glyndwr University and a former Deputy Lieutenant of Clwyd. Bim wrote his autobiography a few years ago, ‘You Can’t Climb A Ladder With Your Hands In Your Pockets’. He seems to have climbed one by telling a lot of tall stories and relied on no-one daring to expose him because that would involve admitting the dreadful truth about standards of care at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.

 

I came across another interesting document today. It dated from 2004 and was a list of the most senior Freemasons in the UK. There have been of course constant allegations that the North Wales Child Abuse Scandal was connected with Masonic activity, although this was denied in the Waterhouse Report and then denied again by Secretary of State for Wales Stephen Crabb after the Macur Review. The rumours persist though – I was told by somebody in MIND in 1987 that the problems caused by Dafydd and co in the mental health services involved Freemasonry and it was admitted that Gordon Anglesea was a Freemason as were a number of the judges and lawyers who have been involved in the inquiries, investigations and trials connected with the North Wales Child Abuse Scandal. St George’s Hospital was known to be dominated by Freemasons. Bangor University had it’s own lodge. The lodge in the town of Bangor had a number of police officers and lawyers as members.

So when I found the list of Masons today, I paid close attention to see if I recognised any names from north Wales lodges. I did. An R. Hefin Davies MBE was listed – that is the former Chair of the North West Wales NHS Trust. Out of interest I then searched the Company Director’s register for Hefin Davies’s interests. He has been a director of a number of companies, three of them involved with the slate trade in north Wales. Being a director of companies involved with the slate industry might at first seem a little incompatible with being the Chair of an NHS Trust. But it’s interesting in the light of something that I was told some years ago when I lived near Bethesda. The Penrhyn Slate Quarry is situated near Bethesda and a lot of my former neighbours used to work there or have friends who worked there. There were always a lot of allegations that massive fiddles were being conducted on the part of some of the senior people in the quarry. Eventually I think it was three people who were put on trial for offences like fraud and theft. It wasn’t just a bit of pilfering that had gone on, the people involved were fleecing the quarry in a major way. There was one man who was caught and arrested however who was never charged. This was widely discussed in the village in terms of ‘how the hell has he got away with it when the others are in court’. The man concerned had been driving lorry loads of slate out of the quarry without going over the weigh bridge, he’d been stealing tons of the stuff. After everyone marvelled at no prosecution ever being brought, I was told by someone ‘not only that but he’s now just been given a seat on the Board of the North West Wales NHS Trust’. Hefin was Chairman at the time. Hefin was also Chairman when Ysbyty Gwynedd were slaughtering mental health patients and the staff were perjuring themselves in order to secure criminal convictions against patients who made complaint.

Another name on the list of senior Freemasons in north Wales was that of the Rev Canon Trevor Davies of Colwyn Bay. Another name was Gareth Lloyd Jones, a funeral director in Llanwrst. The Masons obviously do put a bit of business each others way, because Gareth Lloyd Jones organised the funeral of the Provincial Grand Master of North Wales 1990-2004, one Ian Lawrie Mackeson-Sandbach, who died in 2012. When Ian died, donations to the King Edward VII Hospital were requested. I presume that this is the same King Edward VII Hospital mentioned in my post ‘Update On Tainted Blood Scandal – The Culprit’, the hospital with Lord Simon Glenarthur as governor (who is also the Director of the MDU), the Conservative peer who was responsible for the tainted blood scandal which has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people. Ian’s mother Geraldine – who died in 2001 – was a descendant of the 2nd Baron Penrhyn. Geraldine inherited a Jamaican plantation of 4000 acres and two sizeable estates in north Wales. Geraldine was President of the Denbigh branch of the Royal College of Midwives 1955-75; a member of the governing body of the Church in Wales 1957-67; President of the Royal British Legion Women’s Section; a Magistrate on the Llanwrst Bench 1942-79 and was President of the Juvenile Bench.

So Geraldine and Ian seem to have some medical connections then, as well as a few other connections. The family estate is in the Conwy Valley near Llanwrst. So the Mackeson-Sandbachs could well know Peter Higson, Chair of the Betsi Board – he comes from Llanwrst and his sister is Ruth Hussey, the former Chief Medical Officer for Wales! Geraldine could well have known Dafydd and Gwynne the lobotomist too, with that medical connection to Denbigh – of course Peter Higson worked with Dafydd and Gwynne himself when he was a psychologist and then the manager at the North Wales Hospital Denbigh, throughout the years when Dafydd was banging up people who’d complained about the paedophiles’ friends. One of Dafydd’s roles at Denbigh was to ‘assess’ pregnant women who had requested terminations on mental health grounds. The North Wales Hospital was an institution in which female patients were sexually exploited by Dafydd himself, in which unmarried mothers were still incarcerated in the 1980s and in which whilst I was there in 1987 was unlawfully detaining a young woman who had been abducted by three men, held in an attic and sexually assaulted (see post ‘The Distressed Young Woman Who Vanished’). They would have needed a colluding midwife on quite a regular basis wouldn’t they.

Geraldine’s granddaughter – Ian’s daughter – is famous! She’s Antoinette Sandbach, the former Conservative AM for north Wales. Antoinette always used to describe herself as being a ‘farmer’s daughter’. I didn’t quite believe her at the time. The farmer’s daughter always stressed how committed she was to north Wales, particularly of course to the farmers in the region. So imagine my surprise when in 2015 she stood for the safe Tory seat of Eddisbury in Cheshire. She won as well and the next day resigned her seat in the Assembly and now she’s buggered off to Cheshire.

In July 2013 Cheshire Life interviewed Antoinette. It transpires that the farmer’s daughter spent 12 years in London working as a ‘successful criminal barrister’. Cheshire Life asked her why she would ever want to leave such a career for the ‘country roads’ of north Wales and then ‘head for the Assembly’. Antoinette explained that after she gave a speech at a Save the Rhino fundraiser in 2007, a number of people suggested that she entered politics (I don’t quite follow, but never mind). So Antoinette rang the Conservative Office in Colwyn Bay – that’s the office of a former star of this blog, David Jones MP, who was Secretary of State for Wales for a while under Cameron – and within three months Antoinette found herself standing for the Assembly in Delyn! She didn’t win that seat, so she then ‘worked on the family farm for a low wage’ whilst at the same time working part-time for David Jones, putting her legal skills to good use (Jones is a solicitor). Then Antoinette’s name was added to the regional list and she was subsequently elected!

My post ‘The Right Honourable David Jones MP’ details the many connections that David Jones has to the paedophiles’ friends. Like Antoinette, Jones initially entered politics via a seat in the Welsh Assembly – like Antoinette, he then legged it to Westminster at the first opportunity. David Cameron appointed David Jones to the position of Secretary of State for Wales in the months before Cameron announced that there was to be a review of the Waterhouse Inquiry in the aftermath of the constant allegations that Waterhouse was a huge cover-up. So Jones was Secretary of State whilst the discussions as to how to respond to the accusations of a massive, high level cover up of a paedophile ring involving Westminster figures were happening among Cameron’s inner circle. Jones was removed from the post once the Macur Review was well underway. Like Antoinette’s dad, David Jones is a Freemason.

Antoinette’s dad was Provincial Grand Master of North Wales throughout the police inquiries into child abuse in the region – which were alleged to have been hampered by Freemasonry – throughout the Jillings investigation into child abuse (which the police refused to co-operate with) and throughout the Waterhouse Inquiry. Whilst Antoinette’s dad was Provincial Grand Master, witnesses to the activities of the paedophile gang were found dead, the arson attack which killed five people connected to the North Wales Paedophile Ring happened and Gordon Anglesea won his libel case and the young man who gave evidence against him was subsequently found dead. Oh and I and two of my friends who knew what had happened to me at the hands of Dafydd et al were subjected to constant harassment and threats, unlawfully dismissed from various jobs, one of us was subjected to a violent assault and there were two attempts to set fire to my house.

When Cheshire Life interviewed Antoinette she explained that she became a barrister because she wanted to ‘represent those whose voices would otherwise be lost, whether a victim of crime or a wrongly accused defendant’. As a result of the activities of a number of people that your dad knew Antoinette, very many people were victims of crime and wrongly accused defendants. So would you like to explain to us why the ‘farmer’s daughter’ suddenly decided to enter politics in 2007  – because I don’t for one minute believe that it was anything to do with your outstanding performance at the Save the Rhino Society, or your desire to ‘learn about farming’. You had decided that you needed to be in Westminster and your network of Freemasons, lawyers and paedophiles’ friends swung into action immediately.

In 2009 Antoinette’s young baby died. She has talked extensively about how distressing it was, how she was treated as a suspect by the police and how little support there is for parents of babies who die. She made speeches about it in both the Senedd and the Commons and wept buckets as she spoke, invoking applause on both occasions. She now campaigns on that issue. Yet she has never spoken a word about the dreadful state of the NHS in north Wales, even about the maternity services at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd which were so dysfunctional that Bangor University removed their students from midwifery placements there and a hit squad was sent in from the Welsh Gov’t with the aim of ‘achieving normality’. Numerous women had the most distressing experiences there and some lost their babies.

My post ‘A Vampire At Glyndwr University!’ explains how in 2008 a substantial number of the paedophiles’ friends – in their attempt to have Edwina Hart removed from her post as Health Minister as she tried to clean up the NHS in north Wales – submitted ‘evidence’ to the Welsh Affairs Committee in the Commons. When I wrote that post I was wondering who was on that Committee because I suspected that the paedophiles’ friends were appealing to a sympathiser. I found out today that David Jones was on that Committee. The paedophiles’ friends sent up their distress flare just at the time that the farmer’s daughter decided that a lucrative career at the Criminal Bar (so to speak) was not for her and what she really wanted out of life was a ‘low paid job’ learning how to muck out the stock. Which is why she also bagged a job with a friend of the paedophiles’ friends, moved to Cheshire and has a seat in Westminster.

 

Two more pieces of news from BBC News Wales Online. David Boswell, 56, the Mayor of Pembroke and a Conservative County Councillor, has been charged with historical sex offences – six counts of indecent assault and one count of rape on two different victims who were both aged under 13 at the time. Mr Boswell was in the Army for more than twelve years and is a Marshall for the Royal British Legion.

It has also been reported that the long running saga of the Chief Exec of Community Health Councils in Wales who was suspended on full pay (£90k pa) for many months without anyone knowing the reason (see post ‘High-Level Shenanigans At The Community Health Councils’) is over. He has now been sacked without anyone knowing the reason. When he was appointed to the post he indicated that he wanted to shake up the CHCs and ensure that they represented a strong voice on the part of patients. Which they certainly didn’t before – in the north Wales CHC most of the members were retired or even still working Top Doctors or the paedophiles’ friends. The day after the sacking without reason of the Chief Exec was reported, there was a bad news story of dissatisfied patients of the Kinmel Bay Medical Practice having to queue up outside the surgery at 8am in order to book an appointment. Geoff Ryall-Harvey the Chief Officer of the North Wales CHC said that it was ‘totally unacceptable’, a ‘longstanding problem’ and that ‘we’d be happy to take on anyone’s complaint concerning this matter’. If it’s a longstanding problem the CHC obviously haven’t been very successful at dealing with it. But then they failed to deal with a genocidal mental health service and an unhinged dangerous maternity service and as a result the Betsi Board virtually collapsed and is in long-term special measures. At least they’ve now sacked the man who wanted to effect change.

 

 

 

More Summer Reading!

I’ve been digging around in book shops recently and I managed to pick up a second hand book which might be of interest to readers of this blog.

‘NHS plc’ was published in 2004 and was written by Allyson Pollock. I read quite a lot of Pollock’s work some years ago and what always struck me was that although Pollock undoubtedly knows exactly what goes on in the NHS, she was rather mealy mouthed when it came to admitting the full horror of it all. I always attributed this to Pollock being a policy advisor and therefore maintaining a discreet silence regarding patients’ being maimed and killed – I also was under the impression that Pollock had a background in social policy and such researchers very often do have trouble admitting just how much blood there is on the carpet. But I discovered yesterday that Pollock is actually a Top Doctor – she’s a Consultant in Public Health Medicine and has been since 1986. Since Jan 2017, Pollock has been Director of the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University. Prior to that she was Head of the Public Health Policy Unit at UCL and Director of Research and Development at UCL Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Pollock set up and directed the Centre for International Public Health Policy at Edinburgh University (2005-11). Before then she was Professor of Public Health Research and Policy at Barts and London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary, University of London. Her earlier career is not mentioned on her wiki entry – but guess what can be discovered if one reads ‘NHS plc’? That Allyson previously worked at Sin City – St George’s Hospital Medical School! She mentions that she worked there ‘before’ New Labour’s 1997 election victory. As she has been a consultant since 1986, presumably she was a consultant at St George’s. So she was there at some point in the 90s then – when the madness and malpractice that I have detailed on this blog prevailed there (see post ‘St George’s Hospital Medical School, 1989/1990’), under the ‘leadership’ of the dreadful Sir William Asscher…

Allyson Pollock is best known for her work on the gradual privatisation of the NHS with the associated imposition of a ‘business culture’ and the introduction of ‘new public management’ techniques. Her work on this is very, very good. I have never been able to fault her analysis of what this process has resulted in or her historical detail of the steps by which it has taken place. But reading ‘NHS plc’, it is clear why Pollock’s work never details the chaos and tragedy that is happening in the NHS, although she obviously loathes the privatisation agenda and could add considerable weight to her argument if she was prepared to go public on the excesses of the NHS. It is because Pollock is only telling half the story. The bit that Allyson Pollock just won’t mention is the contribution of the Top Doctors themselves to the mess.

Throughout ‘NHS plc’, Pollock paints a picture of a medical establishment that always does and has always done the best for NHS patients and which has been forced off course by the privatisation agenda – an agenda which Pollock suggests that nearly all Top Doctors have fought against for noble reasons. She does name the occasional sinner, the odd Top Doctor who has encouraged and personally benefited from privatisation, such as the odious Dr Chai Patel. Pollock describes Patel as a ‘millionaire doctor’. He is far from the only one Allyson as you well know. Patel of course notoriously ran a huge chain of private ‘care homes’ which were eventually exposed as being riddled with the most dreadful abuse and neglect of patients – it was this that forced him to step down from his role as a Dept of Health advisor on the care of the elderly. Among Patel’s business interests was his acquisition and expansion of the ‘Priory Group’. That is the Priory Group that currently employs two of Allyson’s former colleagues from St George’s and the associated psychiatric unit Springfield Hospital, Dr Robin Jacobson and Dr Adrienne Key! Likewise Allyson names a few of the biggest scandals that there have been in the NHS – scandals so big that she can’t avoid naming them, such as the Bristol Children’s Heart Surgery Scandal or Harold Shipman. There is not a mention of the fact that actually the NHS for a very long time has been dogged by scandals in which patients suffered greatly and were known to be suffering but no-one acted. According to ‘NHS plc’ the problems only began when Thatcher’s administration began privatising the NHS, a process which escalated under New Labour. It is New Labour into whom Allyson really puts the boot – she hates them.

Whilst Allyson highlights the idiocies that that Tories imposed upon the NHS in the name of the ‘internal market’, she makes no mention of why they were able to convince voters at the time that this might be a good idea. It was actually because there was a great deal of dissatisfaction with the NHS. I can remember the debates very well – the allegations made again and again were of Top Doctors who were so fucking arrogant that they would not listen to patients or respond to their needs. It wasn’t simply a case of affluent patients wanting a private room or special treatment, although that was indeed Margaret Thatcher’s personal interpretation. There had been for example massive dissatisfaction among women concerning the way in which many of them had been treated whilst giving birth, which led to practitioners like Michele Odent establishing private practices to which middle class women swarmed. There was the emergence of ME and the Top Doctors’ complete refusal to accept that this might have a physical cause – seriously ill people were dismissed as suffering from ‘Yuppie Flu’. People with an interest in alternative medicine also fumed at the way in which they were mocked and belittled by Top Doctors. I’m of the opinion that much ‘alternative medicine’ is indeed ineffective, but if one is a Top Doctor faced with anxious patients enquiring about such matters, taking the piss out of them to their faces is not the best way to proceed. The London surgeon Michael Baum was interviewed on TV regarding alternative medicine and he explained that patients enquiring about this were usually middle aged women wearing ethnic weave clothes who read the ‘Guardian’. That’s the sort of observation that is best made to one’s friends in private, not made on prime time TV – it caused massive offence and actually did him a lot of damage (which was unfortunate, because some of Baum’s opinions are worth listening to). I remember an episode of ‘Any Questions’ in which the biggest cheer from the audience was given to a Tory MP who when talking about the Tories reforms of the NHS, had robustly said of hospital consultants ‘they’re not God, they’re just guys doing a job’. People had really had a bellyful of the Top Doctors by the mid to late 1980s and that feeling was exactly what the Tories utilised to sell the voters their agenda for the NHS. Allyson mentions that ‘some’ hospital consultants were ‘downright arrogant’, that they were not ‘directly accountable to anyone’ and that team working was ‘often poor’, but she does not get anywhere near to admitting the extend of the greed, the bullying, the autocracy, the abuse of their positions and the overall preservation of their own vested interests that did – and still does – go on.

The attitude of the Top Doctors to patients was exemplified by the ‘reviews’ that the Top Doctors who fancied themselves as thespians used to put on themselves in medical schools at Christmas. Those stage shows were essentially a series of sketches in which the Top Doctors patted themselves on the back and sneered at patients for all being a bit ignorant or neurotic. I attended two such Christmas Reviews whilst I worked at St Georges – they were virtually identical and basically served to consolidate what someone the other day termed the ‘professional superglue’ that causes NHS staff to close ranks in the face of malpractice or patient harm.

Allyson mentions the concession to accept ‘pay beds’ that Bevan made when establishing the NHS. Bevan of course admitted that he was forced into doing this in order to get the Top Doctors to accept the idea of the NHS. (The Top Doctors REALLY objected to the idea of the NHS.) Pollock I note doesn’t quote Bevan’s most famous words – that in order to overcome the Top Doctors’ objections to the NHS he would ‘stuff their mouths with gold’. Allyson tactfully states that Bevan had accepted the existence of pay beds ‘in order to secure consultants’ participation in the new free health care system’. Pollock mentions that in 1975 Barbara Castle abolished pay beds – and my God wasn’t that one of her biggest battles – but her decision was later reversed and ‘by the 1980s pay beds were justified as an income earner for hospitals’. I don’t remember the Top Doctors objecting to their re-introduction Allyson – in fact when you and I were working at St George’s there was plenty of private practice going on. To be fair, some of the Top Doctors doing it were re-investing their earnings into their research programmes and of course there was a limit placed on the amount that medical academics were allowed to earn through private practice. Which was why so many Top Doctors didn’t want academic posts… Some of Allyson’s non-academic colleagues at St George’s were known to be very rich indeed as a result of their private practices.

Again and again Allyson portrays these very wealthy people with interests in private practice who ignored the wrongdoing of their colleagues as selfless barefoot doctors. She maintains that when ‘concerned NHS staff’ critiqued public-private partnerships they were dismissed by Gov’t as ‘self-interested’. However did anyone come to that conclusion? So who were the concerned NHS staff that Allyson was talking about? The cleaners? The canteen staff or the porters? The Angels perhaps? No, it was the BMA and the NHS Consultants’ Association.

There are plenty of clues in Allyson’s book as to what the beef of the Top Doctors really was. It was not that the Top Doctors were taking a principled stand against privatisation. It was a power battle. The Tories wanted to flatten the BMA in the way that they had flattened the NUM because the BMA were causing havoc behind the scenes and that’s what much of the obsession with imposing a business culture and managerialist practices on the NHS was all about. Unfortunately the Tories tried to fight the Top Doctors by giving huge power to an equally toxic group of people – NHS senior managers. The Tories were well aware of the damage that the likes of Dr Dafydd Alun Jones and Gwynne the lobotomist were inflicting upon the NHS and it’s patients, but their solution was to give as much power to the likes of Alun Davies and Martin Jones. It was not a good idea and for years now a full-on battle has raged between these two groups who are substantially made up of shites. Top Doctors who do have integrity are not going to be told what to do by Martin which is why so many of them are now leaving the NHS and good managers aren’t attracted to working in the NHS because most of the other managers there are like Martin. A few years ago I was friends with a newly qualified law graduate who landed himself a job in the management offices of Ysbyty Gwynedd. He memorably described Martin and co as ‘corrupt as fuck and thick as shit’. Of course, when the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board was first established, they had an excellent CEO, Mary Burrows, who was very bright and genuinely committed to improving the dire state of the NHS in north Wales. Mary was effectively hounded out by the Top Doctors and Martin et al. The last thing that a bunch of unscrupulous, abusive Top Doctors lining their own pockets want is a high calibre senior manager. Which is why you don’t tend to find such creatures in the NHS.

Allyson writes of the battle that the BMA had with Ken Clarke regarding GP fundholding and describes how the BMA were ‘defeated’ and ‘would never again challenge the Gov’t on matters of principle’. Allyson is being somewhat economical with the truth here. The BMA continued to fight Gov’ts tooth and nail, but they adopted a new tactic. Instead of presenting themselves as Top Doctors Who Knew Best overtly confronting the Gov’t, they constructed themselves as People Who Cared About The Disadvantaged – which is exactly the way in which Allyson presents herself! ‘NHS plc’ is full of warm words for the BMA – except towards the end of the book, in which Allyson accuses them of selling out, upon the appointment of a particular Chief Exec. Allyson wrote that book in 2004. In 2007 the BMA famously screwed the Gov’t over regarding the negotiation of the GP out of hours contract which was so favourable to the Top Doctors that one of the BMA negotiators described it as ‘a bit of a laugh’. It was this that led to enormous problems concerning GP out of hours provision. But Allyson’s heart must have melted at some point because in 2014 she was appointed as a Member of the BMA’s Council! She is still there.

Pollock’s own attempts to categorise herself as a barefoot doctor are interesting. She mentions going to dinner with a merchant banker before the election of New Labour to discuss PFIs (I wonder why Allyson was doing that?) and describes how the dinner was held in the ‘bank’s private dining room’ with ‘black coated waiters’ who ‘served lunch that lasted almost three hours’. Allyson compares that dining room with the ‘hospital canteen’ at St Georges and how she ‘could not help thinking of the rows of terraced houses in the impoverished community of Tooting from which St George’s mainly female, mainly black ancillary workforce was drawn’.

I remember those rows of terraces in Tooting as well – I lived in one of them. As indeed did many of the female, black workers of St Georges. So what did the Top Doctors of St Georges think about those workers and the other people who lived in those terraces? Well, one Top Doctor described the midwives as being ‘really thick especially the black ones’. Another Top Doctor told one of the researchers about a ‘really scummy family who live in Garrett Lane’ (Garrett Lane was one of the most deprived parts of Tooting.) A medical student was ostracised because he lived in a shared house in Garrett Lane. It wasn’t only living in Garrett Lane that made one persona non-grata – I attended a departmental meal in a restaurant in Wimbledon during which the wife of a senior registrar refused to speak to a junior doctor after she was told that the junior doctor lived in Brixton. Many of the Top Doctors at St Georges lived in Wimbledon or Clapham or further afield in affluent areas. I only knew of one Top Doctor who lived in Tooting who, as a result of having a number of young children from a series of broken relationships, didn’t have the sort of disposable income that his colleagues had and could only afford to buy in Tooting. He resented living there – although his house was a good deal better than everyone else’s – and he complained at length about the lifestyle enjoyed by another Top Doctor from Kings, who was sufficiently loaded that she was having a house built to her own specifications with a matching bathroom for each bedroom. That was Professor Linda Cardosa – I didn’t ever see her house which caused so much envy, but if any readers did do e mail me and tell me all about it. Should anyone ever see Prof Cardosa on a BMA protest supporting a pay claim I suggest that they ignore her.

As for merchant bankers – the brother of one of the researchers in the dept in which I worked at St Georges was a merchant banker. One of his bonuses was bigger than the annual salary of his sister’s boss. This caused much gnashing of teeth, but no-one used it as evidence that merchant bankers should be paid less – they used it as evidence that they should be paid as much as merchant bankers. As for the merchant banker’s sister – she grumbled at length about her own salary although it later emerged that some sort of ‘special arrangement’ had been made for her so she was earning much more than all the other researchers anyway. Not that she needed a higher salary than everyone else – she drove a Mercedes, but ‘only an old one’ which her father had given her and when she had enough of living in the inner city her parents allowed her to live rent free in the cottage on their estate in Surrey which had previously been inhabited by the gardener. I’m only surprised that mum and dad didn’t supply her with a butler as well.

Not all of my former colleagues at St Georges were as spoiled, as fuckwitted, as snobbish and as shallow as this, but one didn’t have to work too hard to find people who were. There were a lot of them cluttering up the place. The source of their discontent was the fact that so many of them did come privileged backgrounds and they had friends and family who were earning even more than Top Doctors did. So many Top Doctors, despite being among the most highly paid people in the UK, managed to convince themselves that they were very hard done by indeed. It is this phenomenon that propels the BMA and it’s campaigns. The notion of ‘public service’ does not enter into the equation.

In ‘NHS plc’ Pollock is also very critical of NHS organisations selling off buildings and land – the ‘NHS estate’ – to raise money. Such sales are often a very bad deal for the NHS and are effectively fleecing the tax-payer, but the example which Pollock provides is yet another reflection of Pollock’s sleight of hand. She refers to the proposed sale of Springfield Hospital and the accompanying proposed deal with a private care company. Springfield Hospital was an appalling place, in a dreadful state of repair with completely inadequate facilities. It was in no way suitable to be housing mental health patients in the late 20th century. The care was dreadful, abuses of patients were rampant (see post ‘Some Very Eminent Psychiatrists From London…’) and eventually there was a public inquiry after a series of murders there. I do not know what the facilities and care standards at the establishment where it was proposed to transfer the patents to were like, but no-one could defend Springfield Hospital. This example reminded me of the articles that ‘New Statesman’ ran back in the 80s concerning the closure of institutions like the North Wales Hospital Denbigh. Those articles accused Thatcher of selling off the ‘homes’ of patients – I really don’t think that the readers of the ‘New Statesman’ would have wanted a home like Denbigh. Of course, the first Health Minister to propose closing the asylums was Enoch Powell – after visiting Denbigh, which appalled him. Pollock compliments Powell for his ‘political inspiration’ behind the 1962 Hospital Building Plan, but she doesn’t mention a word about him wanting to close institutions like Denbigh and Springfield.

Again and again Pollock lays the blame for notorious NHS shortcomings on privatisation. She rightly mocks the deals that were done with celebrities like Lloyd Grossman which resulted in private companies being contracted to provide hospital food that turned out to be awful. But hospital food was known to be awful before privatisation – it was, like British Rail sandwiches, a byword for dreadful food. Whilst I was imprisoned in the North Wales Hospital Denbigh by Dafydd Alun Jones Brown worried about my diet – because he knew how bad the food was in institutions like that. In Denbigh most patients lived on chips – the fare was so grim that chips were usually the most edible thing on the ‘menu’. One patient at Denbigh who was actually receiving regular visitors – unlike most people who had simply been illegally imprisoned and abandoned in there – got her daughter to bring her meals in. Things were no better in Springfield in 1991 where Pollock’s fellow Top Doctors worked. One inpatient was a young South Asian woman who, for religious reasons, was being given meals that differed from everyone else’s (they certainly couldn’t have managed that at Denbigh). So Springfield could therefore tick the ‘catering for a multicultural community’ box – but this young woman was delivered a meal each day which no choice offered or no say in what it was. On one occasion a meal was delivered which for dietary reasons she could not eat (one of the ingredients upset her stomach). She explained this to the vile abusive ward manager – an Australian called Stephanie whose standard method of communication was to shout and swear at patients – and was simply told ‘you’ve got to have it, these meals are costing us a fortune’. The young Asian woman went without dinner that day. This was before there had been any implementation of the idea of privatising NHS catering.

Pollock writes some scathing passages about the dreadful neglect of the elderly in the private sector – again this is endemic and she is quite right to draw attention to what is going on. But this was happening before NHS privatisation was on the agenda. As far back as the 1970s I knew of a notorious nursing home in the Somerset town in which I went to school. It was owned and run by a nurse who had been sacked from Taunton hospital and it employed schoolgirls as ‘nurses’ (my friend worked there – at 15 years of age she was passed off as a ‘nurse’). Every Top Doctor in Bridgwater knew about that home – they’d have never allowed their own relatives to end up there but no-one put a stop to it. When I went to university in Bangor in 1981 I found out about a very similar establishment in Menai Bridge. The man who owned the nursing home was a drunk and the ‘matron’ in charge was a nurse who had been sacked by the C&A Hospital in Bangor – after she was found having sex with a male patient in his bed on the ward. This was common knowledge, as was the neglect to which the residents were subjected – Dr D.G.E. Wood had some patients there and visited regularly. No-one had the place closed down. Furthermore Chai Patel is not to the only Top Doctor who owned care homes with questionable standards. Brig-y-Nant in Bethesda was owned by Top Doctor Dr K. Shah, a mate of Dafydd’s (see post ‘Hippocratic Oath or Hypocritic Oaf?’ for details of my encounter with Shah). Shah’s wife ‘managed’ Brig y Nant and I heard allegations from one former care assistant that not only were ‘difficult’ elderly residents dumped in baths of cold water, but when injuries were sustained, one doctor would always be called to deal with the problem – a Dr K. Shah.

Something else that Allyson attributes to NHS privatisation is the silencing of whistleblowers and the appearance of dodgy publications in the BMJ. I can kill two birds with one stone here. Back in the 1980s I remember reading an article that a particularly courageous doctor had penned for the BMJ. He was a GP from Devon and he wrote an account of how he had been called out to visit a patient in a nursing home and had arrived to find residents tied to their chairs with pairs of nylon tights and what he described as a ‘sloppy’ young woman on duty. He attended to his patient and as he prepared to leave he was stopped by an old lady who asked him if he was a doctor. When he said yes, the old lady pulled her skirt up and showed him severe, extensive scalding over her thighs. The old lady told him that someone had poured a kettle of hot water over her legs. This nursing home was owned by a local Top Doctor. A few days later the GP heard that the old lady who had been scalded had died. He was so worried about standards at this home that he contacted the coroner regarding his concerns. The coroner told him that there were no concerns at all regarding the home. The GP discovered that the coroner was a business partner of the Top Doctor who owned the home. The GP contacted the GMC and was told to take a running jump. So he penned an article for the BMJ to let the world now exactly what was possible on Planet Care Home. Was this caring and diligent GP supported in his efforts to expose this scandal? Not at all. In the next issue of the BMJ there were a number of letters published from other Top Doctors, all pompously declaring that the BMJ was not the place to air allegations about one’s colleagues. But that was not the worst thing that appeared in the BMJ in the 80s. On one occasion they debated Homosexuality. One old bigot wrote in and stated quite categorically that homosexuality does not exist ‘in the animal kingdom’ and that it is most definitely a perversion of Man. I’ve got news for that particular high-flier – homosexuality DOES exist in the animal kingdom as any zoologist will confirm. Such was the shite that the BMJ felt able to publish in days gone by.

As for whistleblowing – Allyson’s off in fairyland regarding this: ‘formerly doctors could and did speak out in the interests of their patients’ and ‘in the past doctors were free to speak out – in fact they were under a moral obligation to do so – if they felt it was in the interests of their patients’. Of course Allyson – that is why, for many, many years pre-NHS privatisation, Dr Dafydd Alun Jones et al were able to break the law, sexually exploit patients, sell drugs to addicts, lie on oath, illegally imprison people in Denbigh, conceal a paedophile ring and threaten and bribe people with many, many people knowing and no-one blew the whistle on any of it. In fact your own colleagues at St Georges and Springfield knew of at least some of what was going on and documented it – but told each other that I was ‘extremely dangerous’ and should be referred to the forensic services ‘for containment’ after I spoke to them about it. Other people who knew what Dafydd and co were up to included Dr James Earp from Leicester (see post ‘An Expert From England’), Professor Robert Bluglass (see post ‘Enter Professor Robert Bluglass CBE…’), The Medical Ombudsman for Wales Professor Robert Owen, Dr Chris Mawson (see post ‘Doctors Who Disappeared From The Medical Register’) and Dr Chris Hunter (see post ‘The Night of the (Dr Chris) Hunter’). Dr Mawson and Dr Earp did not, unlike the others, suggest that I should be banged up without trial in a secure hospital, but not one of them raised the alarm regarding what was going on.

‘NHS plc’ also takes aim at the various inspection regimes that have been introduced in recent years, such as the CHI (Commission for Health Improvement). Pollock describes such inspectorates as ‘ineffectual’ and mentions that the review teams are ‘inevitably less qualified and less experienced than the hospital staff they were inspecting’. Which is true and it is insulting to good hospital staff. But those inspectorates have been a Godsend to Top Doctors who aren’t doing what they should be doing – such as in Mid-Staffs. Or indeed in north Wales. Dangerous troubled services have passed inspections with flying colours. But it has always been thus – the Mental Health Act Commission were actively colluding with Dafydd and Dr Tony Francis (Dr X) in north Wales to conceal their criminal activity before privatisation was underway.

There is a glaring contradiction in Pollock’s writing, in that among her attempts to portray Top Doctors as helpless pawns in the face of power-crazed Gov’ts there are actually plenty of indications that she knows just how powerful swathes of the medical establishment are, including her own colleagues and the institutions in which she herself has spent her career as a senior member of staff. She clearly explains how the London teaching hospitals and medical schools are invested with prestige and status enabling them to attract high calibre staff, which in turn gives them huge influence even over Gov’t policy – just like Allyson and her Public Policy Units based in those medical schools have sometimes enjoyed.

Allyson mentions the idea to close Guys and St Tommy’s that was put forward some years ago – but she admits that the notion pretty soon died a death because of course Tommy’s is the hospital that serves Parliament. No, no-one’s going to shut down the most elite joint in town with plenty of friends in the Palace of Westminster. Allyson also mentions the enormous power and influence that Great Ormond Street Hospital has, due it’s legacy from J.M. Barrie and it’s very successful fundraising arm. She explains that in 2000, Camden and Islington Health Authority along with the Medical Director at UCL Hospitals Trust, planned to integrate all paediatric services across the area, but that GOSH disagreed with this plan, ‘was in a powerful position to put it’s own priorities before patients needs or planning’ and was successful in ‘silencing debate’.

Yet elsewhere in her book, Pollock holds up GOSH and it’s satellite hospital Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children as being all that is best about the NHS. Queen Elizabeth Hospital was linked to GOSH and a number of consultants at GOSH had shared appointments with Queen Elizabeth. Allyson explains how Queen Elizabeth served the severely disadvantaged area of Hackney where some of the poorest children in the UK lived. She states that Queen Elizabeth was a ‘model of how a hospital in a severely deprived inner city area should be run’, that it was ‘accessible, open and caring with exceptional expertise’ providing a ‘superb service to needy children’. My post ‘Ian Brockington’s Mischief’ mentions that Dr Robin Skynner, who had links with Top Doctors who were concealing child sexual abuse, was the Physician in Charge of the Dept of Psychiatry at Queen Elizabeth between 1965-70.

As for GOSH – that was the hospital that employed the negligent doctor who contributed to the death of Peter Connelly in the ‘Baby P’ case a few years. GOSH has also just been at the centre of the Charlie Gard storm. And I doubt that either of those cases had much to do with privatisation.

Another inconsistency in Pollock’s book concerns Richard Smith, the former editor of the BMJ. He’s mentioned in Pollock’s acknowledgements section as one of the people who have ‘inspired’ her. Yet Smith is named elsewhere in the book as a baddie who jumped ship in 2004 and joined United Healthcare as CEO.

There are clues in the text as to what irks Pollock so much about New Labour as well as the root of some of her inconsistencies. Pollock seems to get to meet some very grand people. Not only did she dine with a merchant banker whilst her heart remained with the St Georges canteen in downtown Tooting, but she had an audience with Geoffrey Robinson in his capacity as Blair’s Paymaster General who afterwards invited her for a drink on the terrace of the House of Commons – although obviously she really wished that she was having a cup of char at a cleaner’s house in Garrett Lane – and she even met Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor. She described them as being on a ‘charm offensive’ and wanted to be ‘seen to be listening’. Pollock also thought very highly of Blair’s first Secretary of State for Health (1997-99) Frank Dobson – ‘a well-liked and competent Minister’. Not many other people shared that opinion – Dobson was widely perceived to be well-meaning but a bit gullible and dim (‘Private Eye’ named him ‘Dobbo’). The NHS continued to go pear-shaped and Dobbo’s scalp was demanded. There was another perceived problem with Dobbo as well – he rolled over for the Top Doctors…

Now although the Top Doctors are a very conservative bunch, they really didn’t like Thatcher and she didn’t like them. Thatcher loathed the professions (as well as academics) and very much saw them as being conspiracies against the layman. So the Top Doctors were most glad to see the back of Thatcher – I remember loud cheering breaking out in St George’s when she resigned. But the Top Doctors are not a bunch of lefties no matter what the Daily Mail says about them. However I suspect that when Blair was elected, Allyson and her fellow Public Policy/Public Health specialists may well have thought that their boat had come in. A Labour Gov’t that wasn’t socialist, with an authoritarian streak, wedded to the notion that Policy Experts should tell the plebs how to live. Which is probably why Allyson broke a leg in her efforts to meet Blair’s Ministers. A similar phenomenon occurred among HE specialists committed to widening participation – Blair maintained that he was going to pursue this policy and educational sociologists all got very excited, but of course he didn’t listen to any of them and a lot of them ended up very miffed. I suspect that Allyson fell into the same trap. Indeed, she makes it clear in her book that she feels that New Labour discredited and intimidated it’s critics, including her. Which they probably did – but then the Top Doctors discredited and intimidated those of us who discovered that their colleagues in north Wales were concealing a paedophile ring. At least Blair didn’t try to frame Allyson for serious crimes or state that she would end up in an institution for the ‘criminally insane’ as dear old Dafydd and Bluglass did with respect to me.

For all her griping though, Allyson knows that the Top Doctors can pack a punch if they are able to successfully construct themselves as the defenders of the NHS in the face of Bastards In Government. She reminds us of the lesson that no politician has ever forgotten – the election of Top Doctor Dr Richard Taylor in Kidderminster, who unseated the Labour MP David Locke. Taylor of course did this by running on a ticket of opposing hospital closures. Pollock mentions another similar event as well – the election of retired Top Doctor Dr Jean Turner in Glasgow in the wake of plans to close Stobhill Hospital. Pollock states that the Gov’ts announcement in 2003 that there would be no closures of smaller local hospitals after the election of Taylor and Turner was ‘a notable acknowledgement of the power of popular mobilisation’.

No Allyson, it was an acknowledgement of how bloody-minded the BMA are – they were fighting ALL hospital closures, including hospitals which were unsafe and harming or killing patients. They didn’t admit that any hospitals were doing this and they didn’t even work behind the scenes to raise standards – they did what they have always done and told the Gov’t ‘touch us and we’ll brain you’. Which indeed they did.

As all good Top Doctors do when they wish to ram home their arguments, Allyson makes references to popular media images of Top Doctors. We are told that the ‘frantic atmosphere in ‘Holby City’ is quite typical of the acute hospital today’. Which is rather like saying that the ‘Carry On’ films with Hattie Jacques giving terrified weedy men bed-baths and Barbara Windsor wearing an Anne Summers style nurse’s uniform whilst her bra flies off were an accurate depiction of life in an NHS hospital in the 60s. There is one big difference between Holby City and ‘an acute hospital today’ – in Holby City the staff never make mistakes and the complex cutting edge surgery is always successful, unless it’s an utterly hopeless case and the patient’s chance of life was unfathomably slim anyway. And from the episodes that I’ve seen, a lot of the surgeons are proud of their upwardly mobile journey from their disadvantaged childhoods – in one episode a female surgeon called Jac even revealed that she’d grown up in care and had been sexually abused. Er, no, as we know from the fate of the kids who grew up in care in north Wales, Jac would not be a heart surgeon, she’d be banged up in Denbigh with everyone calling her a dangerous liar. That is if she hadn’t actually been found dead in suspicious circumstances after having given evidence against the paedophiles that were employed in her children’s home.

Pollock also makes reference to a film called ‘As Good As It Gets’, which she appreciates because it makes some barbed points about US privatised healthcare. It stars Jack Nicholson. As of course did ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’. Which was a film that one of Pollock’s colleagues at St George’s, the occupational health physician Nicky Mitchell-Heggs, had a real problem with. Mitchell-Heggs had previously been a psychiatrist and maintained that ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ set out to deceive because it was modelled on an asylum from the 50s but pretended that such places were still in existence. Which of course they weren’t. Indeed not Nicky – at Denbigh the patients didn’t wear uniforms and there was no piped music. But all the other ingredients were there – a lobotomist, Nurse Rached aka Janice Davies, sane people imprisoned and drugged up because they had dared challenge corrupt Top Doctors and staff terrorising and blackmailing vulnerable people by threatening to release confidential info about them. Except that Denbigh also had a psychopathic psychiatrist sexually abusing the patients who was also concealing the paedophile ring that his mistress facilitated. And those were the two people from whom Mitchell-Heggs and her colleagues were taking evidence regarding my ‘dangerousness’ so she must have known that they were there…. Mitchell-Heggs’s online profile describes her interests as theatre, opera and ski-ing! It’s those self-sacrificing Top Doctors again who fight tooth and nail for the NHS. I also seem to remember reading that both Mitchell-Heggs and her husband now run private practices.

In the initial pages of ‘NHS plc’ Pollock explains that she isn’t able to cover everything in a volume of that length, so there are some areas that she hasn’t commented upon. Such as mental health and learning disability services. Which is just as well considering how bloody shameful these ‘services’ are and were when she wrote that book. She also mentions that she doesn’t cover groups of staff such as cleaners, canteen workers, security officers and porters. In other words those staff who are treated and paid appallingly, whose presence is generally ignored by the Top Doctors and who are actually the very staff who have suffered most as a result of NHS privatisation.

At the beginning of her book, Pollock gives a long list of acknowledgments and names the people who have ‘inspired’ her. They include Dr Richard Taylor, ‘all members of the NHS Consultants Association’, ‘members of the Medical Practitioners Union’, ‘Brian Potter formerly of the Scottish BMA’, ‘Sir Sandy Macara at the BMA’ and Richard Horton of the ‘Lancet’. She mentions ‘many others’ to have come ‘to the aid’ of the Public Policy Unit which she was directing when she wrote ‘NHS plc’. Pollock pays tribute to the ‘special stalwarts of the NHS including Charles Webster, the former official historian of the NHS’. I mention on the front page of this blog that a number of people have written ‘histories’ of psychiatry in north Wales. These histories are at their best highly sanitised and at their worst have about as much historical accuracy as a Barbara Cartland novel. One of those ‘histories’ was written by a Bangor University lecturer called David Hirst and I’m fairly sure that it was his book that was co-authored or assisted in some way by an ‘NHS historian’ called Charles someone. I’m fairly sure that it was Charles Webster. I’ve been googling to try and clarify this but all traces of that book have vanished from the internet. I wonder why – after all it was proudly on display in Bangor University for years, so it definitely exists….However I note that David has co-authored with a number of the Top Doctors from the Hergest Unit! He arrived in Bangor to begin his work in ‘social policy’ in 1973 – Christ almighty, Gwynne and Dafydd were in full swing then, they will have been lobotomising and subjecting people to ‘aversion therapy’ if they dared to be gay til the cows came home. And of course Bryn Estyn was still under the direct management of the Home Office and the systematic sexual abuse of the boys there will have been well-embedded by then. Fancy publishing anything about that lot then David?

Pollock makes several mentions in her book of a man who has acquired superhero status in the eyes of any Top Doctor who wants to pledge their commitment to the NHS – Julian Tudor Hart. Tudor Hart is very elderly now, but he is one of the few Top Doctors still practising who was practising before the establishment of the NHS. He has written about just how grim things were in those days – Tudor Hart worked in south Wales among people experiencing very great poverty and hardship. I am interested in Tudor Hart, because although I do completely accept his account of how dreadful it was to fall ill or have an accident before the establishment of the NHS, he does seem somewhat blind to some of what goes on in the NHS. He is an intelligent man and a keen scholar, so like Allyson Pollock he will know. And being a man of his age from Wales, he will know what Gwynne the lobotomist and Dafydd got up to as well. Tudor Hart has been very rude about Ivan Illich and sees Illich as someone who simply plays to an audience of privileged middle class rebels, which is pretty much what the psychiatric establishment used to say about Thomas Szasz. There is truth in that argument – one had to be affluent to afford sessions with Thomas Szasz – but it ignores why the work of people like Illich and Szasz caught the imagination of so many. It was because of what folk like Gwynne the lobotomist and Dafydd were actually doing to them – people didn’t find it very helpful. There is also another factor about Tudor Hart that I cannot forget. He worked in the same practice as Dr Brian Gibbons, the former Health Minister for Wales. Who when I told him that I had evidence of the Top Doctors and managers in the Hergest Unit participating in criminal activities wrote me a letter saying ‘this correspondence is closed’. At the time the Hergest Unit had the second highest suicide rate for women in England and Wales.

I can only conclude that Allyson Pollock is one of the most articulate, useful PR mouthpieces that the Top Doctors possess and that she, along with the rest of the Top Doctors, are not very happy that Gov’ts are no longer commissioning their ‘research’ and seeking their ‘opinion’ on which to base policy.

As Corporal Jones of ‘Dad’s Army’ fame might have said – ‘It’s the Top Doctors. They don’t like it up ’em’.

 

There is one Top Doctor in particular who certainly doesn’t like it up ‘im – David Healy. I’ve been interested to note that since I reviewed his appearance on ‘Panorama’ the other day and observed that the voices of patients were noticeably absent from that programme and that whilst the Top Doctors scrap amongst themselves global capitalism continues to screw up healthcare, Healy has retweeted a couple of things. One was from a patient claiming to have ‘lived experience’ – the use of that phrase alone suggests that he falls into the category of a ‘professional service user’ (my neighbours don’t talk about ‘lived experience’ when they discuss their the local health services). Another retweet was from someone whom I have corresponded with, Finola Moss. Finola is a blogger who is doing some brilliant work exposing just how much money the Top Doctors who are involved with private psychiatric provision are now making. One company very much in Finola’s sight is Cygnet Healthcare and it was info relating to the billions that Cygnet is now raking in that Healy retweeted. The Medical Director of Cygnet is Robert Kehoe. Kehoe was the ‘expert witness’ who lied in a report about me, Brown, my PhD supervisor and even my lawyer after we had all made representation regarding the criminal activities and negligence of the Hergest Unit. David Healy was one of those named on the documents submitted to Kehoe in evidence. I later discovered that Kehoe’s business partner had a personal connection to Healy’s colleague at the Hergest, Dr Tony Roberts.

St George’s Hospital Medical School, 1989/1990…

Recent posts ‘The Night of the (Dr Chris) Hunter’ and ‘Some Big Legal Names Enter The Arena’ describe the enormous efforts that were being made by the north Wales mental health services during 1989 and 1990 – without my knowledge – to have me declared ‘dangerous’ (on the basis of nothing but gossip and unfounded allegations made by people about whom I had previously made serious complaint) and to secure High Court Injunctions against me preventing me from even writing to the people whom I had made complaint about and then to imprison me for breaching these injunctions. The organisations leading the posse were Gwynedd and Clwyd Health Authorities and Gwynedd Social Services. I have detailed the numerous people and other organisations who were party to and indeed colluding in all this, including well-known figures in medicine and law from England and organisations such as the British Medical Association, the Medical Defence Union, the Mental Health Act Commission and the Welsh Office. I have also mentioned how at the same time, Alison Taylor, a former social worker for Gwynedd Social Services, had been raising the alarm that a paedophile ring was operating in the social services in north Wales. By 1990, children who had been in care in north Wales had come forward with concrete allegations and an ‘Officer in Charge’ of a children’s home in north Wales, Stephen Norris, had been imprisoned for indecently assaulting children in his care. So by 1989 and 1990, the health and welfare sectors in north Wales had good reason to be very anxious indeed, notwithstanding the allegations that I was making that very serious abuses were happening in the mental health services there.

By this time, I was working at St George’s Hospital Medical School in London during the week, although I owned a small house near Bethesda and used to return there at weekends. I was offered the job at St George’s in the spring of 1989 and on paper it looked like a really good deal – a paid position as a research assistant with the opportunity to register for a PhD at the same time. I knew nothing about St Georges except that a big scandal had occurred there a few years previously – the Professor of Paediatrics, Oliver Brook, had been prosecuted for possessing child pornography and had gone to prison. This had happened before the whole world was obsessed with ‘paedos’, but nonetheless it gained much media coverage, due to concerns that Oliver Brook might have been molesting his patients. St George’s absolutely assured everyone that no matter what Brook had done, he hadn’t done that. Oliver Brook did not spend much time in prison, he was released after a matter of months when a judge took pity on him and basically said that he was merely a man with an unfortunate weakness who had suffered enough. (I note that there is now information on the internet about Oliver Brook that alleges that he was a major figure in a network that was distributing child porn across Europe and that the police officers who had nailed him were very unhappy indeed to see him walk free after a few months.) I presumed that the business with Oliver Brook was an unfortunate one-off.

When I arrived in London to start the job at St George’s, I was told that the person who had been working on the project before me had ‘decided’ that he didn’t want to carry on in research and had taken up teaching instead. It transpired that this man had left in quite a hurry – some of his clothes were still in the cupboard that was allocated to me. Unusually for someone who had recently worked there he hadn’t kept in touch with any of the rest of the team either. Over the next few weeks it became clear to me that not only were some of the staff employed in that dept phenomenally aggressive to their colleagues but they seemed to have given this young man a very hard time. He had been called Richard, which they had then shortened to Dick and then extended to Dickhead. I was told that this had been considered ‘really funny’, especially as Dickhead didn’t like it. The degree of distress that Dickhead had endured at their hands became clear when I was told the hilarious Tale of the Broken Centrifuge. There was a centrifuge in the lab that was faulty and it had to be slammed quite hard to be shut. But not too hard, because that would break it and it was a very expensive centrifuge indeed. So all new researchers were told to slam it hard to shut it. Then when they did slam it hard, they would be yelled at not to break it and told that if they did, the money for a replacement (many thousands of pounds) would be docked out of their meagre salaries. This jolly little joke was played on me. I then discovered that when it was played on Dickhead, he really did think that he’d broken the centrifuge and he’d written a note resigning, telling them that they could have as much of his salary as they wanted because he wasn’t ever coming back to work. Everyone thought that this had been hysterically funny. Anyway, Dickhead eventually did leave for good within about a year, but I never found out what the last straw for him had been. I witnessed a great deal of this sort of nastiness during my two years there and it seemed to be dished out to everyone willy-nilly. The grossest example of this team’s ‘humour’ was directed towards a young visiting doctor from Yugoslavia. She had a medical condition that affected her voice, which had a slight croaky quality to it when she spoke. She was referred to as ‘eaglet’ and every time she entered the tea-room the researcher leading all this would make loud squawking noises.

After a couple of months of witnessing all this, when these charming characters turned on me I presumed that I was just getting what everyone else was receiving. I was then surprised to find the head technician running the labs – who was also a union rep no less, despite joining in with all the jolly japes that were going on – continually telling me that I ought to see the occupational health physician. I ignored this advice until eventually he demanded that I did so, on the grounds that I seemed to be getting depressed. (My God, why ever might that be, working with people with such a sense of humour?) But a couple of interesting things had happened before this pressure was applied.

As described in my blog post ‘A Network Stretching To London?’ I’d only been at St George’s a few weeks when a junior obstetrician turned up asking for the girl from Bangor whom he heard was working in the dept, because he had connections in Bangor too and wanted to meet her. I introduced myself and it transpired that he had worked as a trainee in the medical practice of Dr DGE Wood, my former GP in Bangor. I didn’t know this at the time, but Wood had been saying some rather poisonous things about me and is one of the people mentioned in my previous blog posts who had fuelled the allegations of me being an enormous problem. (Wood of course had been the man who had originally referred me to T.Gwynne Williams the lobotomist, who by this time had died.) Then in the course of a conversation that can’t have lasted more than about 20 mins, this junior doctor reeled off all the names of the people whom I had made complaint about in Bangor, asking me if I knew them. He then disappeared off back to work and I never saw him again – I was told that he left St Georges shortly after. He was a man called Jimmy Schroff who died in 2003, but his widow now works at the Betsi. When I wrote the blog post ‘A Network Stretching To London’ I was still reserving judgement on Jimmy Shroff’s visit. However since I wrote that post, I have received more documents from my lawyers which reveal some very interesting things. Firstly that Dr DGE Wood, whilst giving me every impression that we were on good terms, at this time was playing a central role in maintaining that I was ‘dangerous’ and that my complaints about the north Wales mental health services were groundless. Secondly, that there was a connection between Ysbyty Gwynedd, the North Wales Hospital Denbigh and St Georges. As described in my post ‘A Network Stretching To London’, I had previously discovered a very old letter, written on North Wales Hospital headed notepaper, in which someone was asking someone else whether they’d found out which dept at St Georges I was working in. But the reproduction was so poor that I couldn’t read the signature or the date on the letter. But two other documents have since come back from the lawyers, as described in my blog post ‘The Night of the (Dr Chris) Hunter’. One is a letter from Alun Davies (administrator at Ysbyty Gwynedd) to Mr PM Rees (administrator at Gwynedd Health Authority), dated 19th May 1989 which says ‘I wish to inform you that [I have] moved from [my] Surrey address and is I believe working at St Georges Hospital London. However recent correspondence to the hospital does not indicate [my] new address’. So as soon as I arrived at St Georges the mental health services in north Wales clearly had a contact there who had even accessed my mail to see if they could find out where I was living. There is a second document of interest too, again detailed in blog post ‘The Night of the (Dr Chris) Hunter’, a letter from Alun Davies to Laurie Wood (manager of the North Wales Hospital) dated 11th April 1990 and reads ‘Did you speak to your colleague at St Georges and if so what was the outcome?’ There is a little handwritten message on this letter saying ‘Discussed with Alun Davies 12/4/90’. So I was being trailed…

My blog post ‘Some Big Legal Names Enter The Arena’ details how in May 1990, Gwynedd Health Authority applied for an injunction against me. I went to the hearing, in Cardiff, in front of Justice Pill (later Sir Malcolm Pill).The Health Authority did not get the injunction that they requested, although I gave an undertaking to the Court not to ‘threaten’ or ‘assault’ them, which I had no problem doing. My colleagues at St Georges knew about this hearing, because I took time off work to go to Cardiff. They had also heard – from me – about the battle in Wales. (I was very upfront about this, because I had previously worked in a cancer research team at Surrey and needed to take time off to attend the Independent Professional Review led by Robert Bluglass (please see blog post ‘Enter Professor Robert Bluglass CBE). My colleagues in Surrey knew what had happened in Wales and were completely supportive and we had many interesting discussions regarding the lack of accountability and regulation in medicine. There were never any aspersions cast as to my sanity and I was never bullied there. But then they weren’t friends with one of Laurie Wood’s mates…) But people at St Georges were reacting in a rather different way. They were often questioning me about when I was next going to Bangor and then started asking me why I didn’t sell my place in Wales and settle in London. By this time Mary Wynch’s legal case against Dr Dafydd Alun Jones and Denbigh had received press coverage, but this just fuelled the suspicion of me that some people at St Georges seemed to have. As ever, I just presumed that these were people based in London who had no idea how Dafydd Alun Jones et al were conducting business in north Wales and probably didn’t believe what I was saying. So when I returned from Cardiff, having not been imprisoned and having not had an injunction served on me, I presumed that the people at St Georges would finally become a little less anxious. They didn’t. They actually became very much more unpleasant and seemed quite cross that I’d had a minor triumph over the north Wales mental health services.

Demands started to be made of me that I attend meetings with a particularly obnoxious man in the HR dept although nobody could actually explain why. But there was a far more problematic person who was busy without my knowledge – Dr Nicky Mitchell-Heggs, the occupational health physician. As described, the head technician insisted that I see this woman and she too seemed very interested in my complaints about the north Wales mental health services. I told her that I had met Mary Wynch who had also complained about Denbigh and Mitchell-Heggs actually asked me ‘and did she seem like a sane lady?’ I replied that Mary had won her legal case which spoke for itself. Mitchell-Heggs did not say a word in reply. Then she heard about Bluglass and his Review. She kept repeating ‘Robert Bluglass from Birmingham? Your complaint was investigated by Bluglass from Birmingham?’ I repeated yes and she then commented ‘well you have caused a stir’. Yet none of these indications that something was going very wrong in north Wales seemed to lessen her anxiety about me. She started demanding that I should see psychiatrists in London. I was most reluctant to do this (I would have thought it was obvious why) and eventually she insisted that I should see ‘the most lovely man’ that she knew, a Dr Tom Burns, who worked at St Georges and the associated psychiatric hospital Springfield. When I saw Tom Burns, as described in my previous blog post ‘Networking…’, he asked me what had been going on in north Wales. I told him and halfway through my tale he stopped me and accused me of thinking that he was ‘an idiot’ and ‘naïve’ and that I didn’t think that he knew that this sort of thing went on. I was quite gobsmacked and told him that I was used to people not believing me – he then told me that there was a ‘problem’ in that psychiatry attracted ‘disturbed people’. I left the consultation feeling greatly relieved that Tom Burns had not called me a malicious liar or denounced me as mad. However, I never received any further appointments with Tom Burns and Mitchell-Heggs didn’t tell me to see him again. I later found out why when I finally read a letter compiled by Mitchell-Heggs saying that Tom Burns didn’t think that I was ‘psychotic’ but thought perhaps I had a ‘paranoid personality disorder’, but didn’t feel that he had ‘anything to offer’ me. I bet he didn’t. I think Tom Burns knew pretty much what was going on in north Wales, decided that he wasn’t going to touch this and walked away very quickly. Not that it did him any harm – he is now Professor Tom Burns of Oxford University and has been awarded a CBE (just like Bluglass!) for his services to medicine.

I left St Georges in 1991 when the aggression and bullying simply made me feel that it wasn’t worth putting up with it any longer. There was one junior doctor whom I was friendly with, really nice, really bright, who tried to persuade me to stay long enough to finish my PhD, who told me that the problem wasn’t me, it was the dept which was highly dysfunctional. I told her that I just couldn’t bear to stay there.

Until two weeks ago I had always presumed that people at St Georges, including Mitchell-Heggs, had probably not believed what I had told them was happening in Wales, probably didn’t like me and must have thought that I was a real problem at work and that was why they spent so much time swearing at me, yelling at me and slamming doors in my face. However, I have now found yet another letter written by Mitchell-Heggs about me. It contains the line ‘her behaviour at work is not a problem’. So what on earth was?

Sometime after I left St Georges, a major scandal erupted in the dept where I had worked. The consultant that I had worked for was caught committing a serious research fraud and was eventually struck off (which was certainly ironic as he was one of the less offensive people there). The Prof of the dept had to resign from the Presidency of the Royal College of Obs and Gynae and it was alleged that the scandal also cost him an expected knighthood. The Dean of St Georges, William Asscher, installed new leadership in the dept. Before long, another scandal hit them, this time involving the man who had been appointed to rehabilitate the dept. At this point Asscher closed the dept down. A few years after this I came across an article in the Daily Mail featuring yet another consultant who had worked in that dept, who it was alleged had pressurised NHS patients into donating eggs to private patients – she was in front of the GMC for misconduct. She was found not guilty but soon after left England and returned to her native India. Many years later I met someone from St Georges at a conference and I told him that I had spent a nightmarish two years working there – this man had worked there for years and remembered all the scandals in the dept where I had worked. He described my former colleagues as ‘a load of bastards’ who had been ‘out of control’ – he also told me that everyone believed that the gynaecologist who had been up in front of the GMC had indeed been selling the eggs of NHS patients and was ‘a very greedy woman’. St Georges also became embroiled in another row when it was revealed that the computer programme relied upon to decide whether applicants to the medical degree should be offered a place had been programmed to discriminate against ethnic minority candidates. The programme operated on a points basis and a candidate had to score enough points to be offered a place. The candidates were asked their ethnic origin and it transpired that if it wasn’t white British, the computer knocked a few points off – this wasn’t an accident, someone had actually programmed the system to do this. (Which made one wonder what was happening in the other London medical schools, because St Georges had one of the highest proportions of ethnic minority students.)

So what happened to William Asscher who presided over all this? He ended up with a knighthood. Professor Sir William Asscher died in 2014. His obituary filled me in on a few details that I’d never realised when I was working in his proud institution. Before moving to St Georges, he had spent his career in Cardiff and had a home in Wales as well as London. He had been responsible for developing renal medicine in Wales and one hospital in particular was exceedingly grateful to William Asscher because they maintained that without his help they would never have had a renal unit. That hospital was Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor.

A few years ago a senior social scientist who knew St Georges well told me that it was a hospital alleged to be very heavily influenced by Freemasonry. One allegation that has constantly swirled around the north Wales child abuse scandal and events at the North Wales Hospital was that it was all tied up with Freemasonry. These days Freemasonry is often the butt of jokes regarding silly handshakes and wearing a little apron. However, I could well imagine that thirty years ago in a region like north Wales, Freemasonry could have been very influential – a network by which small town businessmen and policemen could rub shoulders with much bigger, more powerful people. In 1984, Stephen Knight’s volume about Freemasonry was published, ‘The Brotherhood’. Knight alleged that Freemasonry was particularly influential in legal circles and that at that time, most members of the judiciary were Masons. There was also a Lodge in Bangor University – I know a retired academic from Bangor who told me that he was invited to join it when he was a junior lecturer back in the 80s but he declined. He suspects now that this didn’t do him much good.

I had never taken much notice of all the Freemasonry allegations until about four years ago when one of the most level-headed senior academics I know (who was certainly not prone to conspiracy theories) asked me if I thought that what happened to me at the hands of the mental health services might have had something to do with Freemasonry, because he’d noticed that it seemed to involve institutional corruption in law and medicine, two areas where Freemasonry is alleged to hold sway…

My last weeks in London before I moved back to Wales permanently were spent as a patient at Springfield Hospital where I encountered yet another most eminent figure in psychiatry – now there’s a tale to tell, but it’s for a future blog post…

 

 

 

A Network Stretching To London?

So far this blog has described a network of people stretching across Wales who seem to have been assisting each other in concealing the long-standing problems in the mental health services (and wider NHS) in north Wales. The mycelia of this network reached into England as well as I discovered in the late 1980s/early 1990s. I had been warned about this by a nurse who formerly worked at Ysbyty Gwynedd who was becoming alarmed at what was happening to me at the hands of the mental health services – he warned me that Dr Dafydd Alun Jones and co were not very nice people and that they were going to make my life very difficult. This nurse knew that I’d just been offered a job in London and told me to be careful – because ‘it’s a small world’.

Nonetheless I took up a job at St Georges Hospital Medical School in London and I’d only been there a few weeks when I had a visitor. A very friendly extrovert appeared in the tea room and said that he’d been told that there was a girl from Bangor working in the dept and that he had connections in Bangor too and wanted to meet up with her. I identified myself and he introduced himself – he was a junior obstetrician called Jimmy Schroff who’d just started work at St Georges. He sat down for a natter and interestingly enough he seemed to know an awful lot of the same people that I had encountered in Bangor. He had worked in the same surgery as Dr DGE Wood (the GP who had referred me to the dreadful Gwynne Williams the lobotomist and who had told me that I ‘wasn’t allowed’ to complain). He was very rude and forthright indeed about some of the administrators in Ysbyty Gwynedd, but I knew that a lot of the doctors hated them anyway so this didn’t ring any alarm bells. But then he said something very interesting – he asked me directly whether I knew one of the psychiatrists that I had complained about in Bangor and asked me what I thought of him. Which seemed rather odd what with Jimmy Schroff being an obstetrician. I didn’t respond but carried on listening and he literally reeled off the names of a whole load of people known to me in the NHS in north Wales – none of whom worked in obs and gynae – but all of whom by now I had suspected were involved in some very questionable practices. He didn’t mention one person who was not known to me – which was one hell of a coincidence for a random meeting with someone else who had just happened to work in Bangor. He then dashed off back to work and I never encountered him again.

I often wondered whether he was part of the network that were trying so hard to silence me, but he didn’t seem like one of them – he was far more competent for a start and seemed much more normal than the very obviously dysfunctional people whom I was having such trouble with. However in 2005 when I finally retrieved my full medical files I had a surprise – among the very old records was a photocopy of a letter printed on headed North Wales Hospital Denbigh paper. The quality of the photocopying was so poor that I was unable to read the signature – but the content of the letter could just about be read. It was a letter to someone else (their name could not be distinguished either) asking whether their friend had found out which department in St George’s I was working in yet. I never did get to the bottom of Jimmy Schroff’s brief visit to me because he didn’t stay working at St George’s long. I have since discovered that Jimmy Schroff died in 2003. His widow works for the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

There was however another connection between Wales and St Georges. Whilst I was working at St George’s the Dean was one Sir William Asscher. (He was described to me by a colleague as ‘an absolute bastard’.) I later found out that William Asscher had spent much of his career in Cardiff, had a home in Wales as well as in London and had been instrumental in developing renal medicine in Wales. Not so long ago I found newspaper archive footage dating from the 1980s relating to a new renal unit that had been established at Ysbyty Gwynedd. It praised the man whom it claimed had been responsible for facilitating the establishment of the unit – a Dr William Asscher from Cardiff. William Asscher died in 2014.

After leaving St George’s I found evidence that people working there certainly were well aware of some of the malpractice in north Wales, but seemed to be taking the view that it wasn’t on their patch so why worry and what else could one expect from the medical services in Wales. (I remember clearly a ‘joke’ being made whilst I worked there regarding the really bad doctors being sent to Wales to work, which was indeed exactly what happened to a much loathed doctor who worked at St George’s whilst I was there. He was serially sexually harassing staff, fell out with everyone and then failed some professional exams. He now works at a Spire Hospital in south Wales and has an extensive private practice down there. When the dreadful Brian Gibbons was Health Minister in Wales he gave this man an award.) I will be blogging further details regarding the knowledge that people at St George’s had regarding the wrongdoing in north Wales – and how they all kept schtum – soon.

Many years after I left St George’s I was talking to a senior social scientist who had worked in London and knew St George’s well. I was telling him about some of my more bizarre experiences there and he said that there were major problems at St George’s and Springfield (the associated psychiatric hospital) and that the institution was heavily influenced by Freemasonry. Which is another theme that I keep encountering when discussing the problems in the north Wales NHS. It was first mentioned to me in 1987 by MIND in Leicester (please see my blog post ‘The Mysterious Silence of MIND’) and of course rumours of Freemasonry constantly swirl around discussions of the north Wales child abuse scandal. These rumours were so persistent that when Secretary of State for Wales Stephen Crabb made his speech after the heavily redacted Macur Review was published, not only did he feel obliged to stress to the House that there were no ‘national figures’ involved in the paedophile ring, but that there was no evidence of involvement of Freemasonry. Yet the rumours persist and investigative journalists have dug up evidence that some of the people accused of abusing children in north Wales and some of those charged with investigating the abuse were indeed members of Masonic Lodges.

For years I tended to dismiss the Freemasonry allegations as a spurious bit of conspiracy theory – a lot of those involved may have been Freemasons, but they were members of many other overlapping networks as well. But a few years ago when the intimidation and harassment of me at the hands of the north Wales mental health services had become very public, a very level headed senior academic asked me if I thought that all this was connected to Freemasonry because he had noticed that this was all being driven by institutionalised corruption in medical and legal circles, both professions where Freemasonry is said to have influence…