The Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Connection?

My post ‘A UK Network’ speculated upon possible connections between north Wales and the north east of England. I described how I suspect that the Cleveland Child Abuse Scandal did Dafydd and the paedophiles’ friends in north Wales a very big favour by muddying the waters just at the very time when Alison Taylor, Mary Wynch and I were writing to politicians, Ministers and others regarding the criminal activities of welfare professionals in north Wales. At the time I didn’t realise that what I was witnessing and experiencing was a direct result of the paedophile ring in north Wales and I don’t think that Mary did, but Alison was of course a children’s social worker for Gwynedd Social Services who was blowing the whistle on the abuse happening in the children’s homes.

‘A UK Network’ named Dr Neil Davies and Professor Bob Woods as being two senior figures who worked in the mental health services in north Wales for years who had both previously worked in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Neil Davies read medicine at Cambridge and then worked in Newcastle, Bob Woods did his clinical psychology training in Newcastle and worked there afterwards. Bob Woods had also worked at the Institute of Psychiatry before moving to Bangor. Neil Davies was a Consultant Psychiatrist in north Wales (he has now retired) and Professor Bob Woods is a Clinical Psychologist who for many years ran the Clinical Psychology training at Bangor University, working in partnership with the mental health services in north Wales. Bob Woods is Professor of Old Age Psychology at Bangor University and specialises in dementia and Alzheimers.

Neil Davies was for many years a Consultant Psychiatrist in the North Wales Hospital Denbigh – I met him whilst Dafydd unlawfully imprisoned me there in the winter of 1986/87. My post ‘How I Arrived At Denbigh’ details the entries that Neil Davies made upon my medical records in 1986 after being confronted by a nurse who told him that she was most unhappy about being implicated in Dafydd’s illegal activities and the ‘deal’ that he had done with a corrupt policeman at Bangor Police Station, a Superintendent Roberts. Davies reassured her that it wasn’t actually her who was breaking the law or participating in the ‘deal’ (that was the word that Davies actually used on my medical records), all she had to do was to refuse to let me out of the locked ward where I was being unlawfully held.

I met Neil Davies again some years ago. He was then a Consultant at the Ablett Unit, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd. I went to see him after my lawyer had conducted a battle for more than a year to get me an appointment at the Ablett Unit, so that I would never have to risk my neck with the dreadful Hergest Unit again. The North West Wales NHS Trust had simply ignored my lawyer’s repeated requests – I don’t know why, because they hated me and the lethal Dr Tony Roberts of the Hergest Unit had made it clear that I could die before I’d receive any support, but no, they just couldn’t find it within them to refer me elsewhere. After a very long battle and my lawyer pointing out repeatedly that denying me care was simply illegal (although breaking the law has never bothered the north Wales mental health services), I did receive an appointment to see Neil Davies.

I remembered Neil Davies from the North Wales Hospital, but when I went to see him we didn’t mention meeting there, although I presumed that he did remember me. When I went to see him at the Ablett, I hadn’t yet gained access to the records that he’d written at Denbigh years earlier, so I knew nothing about these written confessions of illegal incarceration and deals with corrupt police officers. At the Ablett, Neil Davies was very chatty and pleasant – people always find Neil Davies chatty and pleasant, he is not conspicuously deranged like Dafydd – and we actually spent most of the time discussing my publications. I only saw Neil Davies I think about three times when I gave up again – dear old Tony Roberts reared his ugly head once more, throwing hissy fits and ordering junior doctors at the Ablett not to treat me no less, because I was ‘his’ patient, not Neil Davies’s. God knows what was going on, I just gave up with them at that point.

Last year however my lawyer forwarded yet more records to me, including the incriminating records that Neil Davies had compiled at Denbigh. But she also forwarded the records that he had compiled about me when I’d been to see him at the Ablett. I discovered that there had been no official referral. Alun Davies, the corrupt manager of the Hergest Unit, had simply ‘had a word’ with Neil Davies at a meeting about another matter in mid-Wales and asked him if he would see a ‘difficult patient’. I can only imagine what Davies said about me. Furthermore it came as no surprise that there was no appropriate referral – Alun Davies conducts his whole existence on the basis of ‘having a word’ with people (often his corrupt contacts) and if he ever was told that a third party had been critical of the Hergest Unit, his standard response was to bellow ‘I’ll be having a word with them’. He even bellowed that he would be having a word with Edwina Hart the Health Minister when she implemented a policy that he didn’t like.

The records from Neil Davies were illuminating. He had written a letter to my GP after my first appointment mentioning that he’d seen me, but he didn’t realise ‘who she was’ until I started talking about my work. Davies stated that he realised that he ‘knew me by repute’ – presumably he had forgotten completely about the corrupt deal and illegal detention that he had been party to in Denbigh. But then that sort of thing was an everyday occurrence out there.  Now when Neil Davies said that he knew me by repute, he didn’t mean hat he knew me as an academic. Davies meant that he knew me as the woman who had dared to complain about Jones and Denbigh, the women whom the mental health services had spent years trying to imprison because she was so phenomenally dangerous but who had recently completed a PhD and was now appearing in the press commenting about the failing mental health system. I even found copies of some of my academic papers among Davies’s records relating to me (good to know that you thought they were worth keeping Neil!). Davies’s letters to my GP didn’t mention me being a potential axe murderer as most of the correspondence about me usually did, but interestingly he talked about me being a ‘very disordered personality’ (yeh, that’s how I am such a prolific writer Neil, when you’re as mad and as disordered as me you can write even more publications than anyone else). Interestingly enough, in support of his claims of my ‘disordered personality’, the only thing that Davies managed to dredge up was that I had just broken up with someone after a ‘brief relationship’. The brief relationship in question had lasted nine years. Which I think is longer than any of Dafydd’s serial marriages lasted…

What was most telling though was the copy of Neil Davies’s hand-written notes that my lawyer forwarded. At the top of the first sheet of the ‘contemporaneous notes’ that he made during my first appointment with him, Neil Davies had written ‘DAJ issue’. ‘DAJ’ in north Wales psychiatry ALWAYS translates as ‘Dafydd Alun Jones’. In the Hergest Unit, Dr Tony Francis (Dr X) even used to say ‘DAJ’ rather than utter Dafydd’s name. So although we didn’t mention Dafydd during our meeting and although no letter had ever been sent to Davies telling him that when I was younger I had made complaint about Dafydd, he knew that there was a DAJ issue. He also considered it to be so overwhelmingly important that it was the first thing that he wrote down. In doctor speak. Not mentioned again in any official correspondence. Which sums it up really – are you a prolific academic with an out-patients appointment after you happened to have ended a nine year relationship? Well of course you have a ‘disordered personality’ – because you’re the bastard who complained about Dafydd breaking the law and sexually exploiting patients 25 years ago and we know you ‘by repute’.

I have never heard any allegations at all that Neil Davies sexually exploited patients. But he knew all about Dafydd and my records demonstrate that he colluded with Dafydd’s criminality. For all his pleasant manner, Neil Davies’s remedy was the same as everyone else’s – this patient must be discredited…

I have never had any dealings at all with Professor Bob Woods, although I know a number of people who have. However he has been working in north Wales for long enough to be well aware of the history and practices of the mental health services. Although his CV boasts of his status as one of the UK’s leading lights in dementia and Alzheimers, he also works in ‘partnership’ with the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board which was responsible for the abuse and neglect at Tawel Fan, a dementia ward in the Ablett Unit. Tawel Fan was the worst mental health care scandal that the UK had experienced for many years (see post ‘The Tawel Fan Scandal’).

I mentioned in my post ‘The Case Of The King’s Sperm’ that one of the friends and protégés of the crazed psychiatrist and eugenicist Eliot Slater – who with his colleagues Dr Carlos Blacker and Dr Desmond Curran discussed the possibility of asking King George VI to donate sperm in order to artificially inseminate a patient of Curran’s – was Professor Sir Martin Roth. Martin Roth died in 2006 and was a very big name in UK psychiatry – he worked in Newcastle and it was there that he achieved his towering reputation. Roth’s speciality was old age psychiatry, particularly dementia and Alzheimers. I suspect that Martin Roth may have been yet another person who’s status and reputation was used to protect those screwing up so badly in the mental health services in north Wales for decades.

Roth was appointed Professor of Psychological Medicine at Newcastle in 1956, whilst Newcastle was still part of the federal Durham University. He stayed there until 1977. He will have been there when both Neil Davies and Bob Woods worked in Newcastle. Roth established units for child psychiatry, neurosis and psycho-geriatrics. His obituaries tell us that ‘he embraced the discipline of clinical psychology within his department’.

By 1959 Roth had an international reputation and was consulted by WHO (World Health Organisation). In the 60s Roth became known for his pioneering dementia research, demonstrating that the problems with a poor prognosis experienced by many elderly people in psychiatric hospitals attributed to senility and dementia were actually a result of treatable conditions eg. depression or infections. Roth instigated studies with Sir Bernard Tomlinson into Alzheimers and it is claimed that as a result of this, ‘patient care was improved’. Roth and his researchers undoubtedly conducted interesting work into the molecular pathology of Alzheimers, but in view of what happened at Tawel Fan and the standard of ‘care’ meted out to thousands of other elderly people with dementia or Alzheimers, I’m not convinced that Roth’s research has led to an improvement in patient care. Some of the recent scandals in the care of the elderly mentally ill have been as bad as the Ely Hospital Scandal in the late 60s.

In 1964 Roth was a member of the Clinical Research Board of the MRC and Director of the MRC Research Group in psychiatry at Newcastle.

Between 1965-75 Martin Roth was an advisor to the Ministry of Health on mental health and was involved with Keith Joseph in Gov’t plans to replace mental hospitals with units in District General hospitals and community care. Roth was said to have ‘expressed concern about the quality and scope of care, which went unheeded’. I have noted previously how when Denbigh was closed, the abusive practitioners who had been employed at Denbigh were simply re-employed in the new services and most of them carried on with their abusive and/or negligent practices. It wasn’t the building at Denbigh which was the problem. But Bob Woods and Neil Davies have never admitted that, at least publicly.

In 1971 Roth was elected as the first President of the newly created Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Roth was knighted in 1972 whilst he was at Newcastle.

After Roth left Newcastle he continued his Alzheimers research at Cambridge, where he was the first Professor of Psychiatry between 1977-85, then Professor Emeritus. Roth was a Fellow of Trinity College Cambridge from 1977.

Roth was considered to have pioneered psychogeriatrics, but he was also described by Professor Claude  Wischik, a former PhD student of his, as being ‘a leading voice for biological psychiatry and was listened to throughout the world’. However Roth also had interests in anxiety, panic attacks and agoraphobia.

Along with Willy Mayer-Goss and Eliot Slater, Roth wrote ‘Clinical Psychiatry’, the standard text until well into the 80s. The first edition was published in the mid-50s, but further editions and revisions were published until 1977. Roth was also responsible for Camdex – the Cambridge Examination for Mental Disorders of the Elderly, published in 1988.

Roth is attributed with having done much work on the diagnosis and classification of mental disorders and it is said that it was Roth’s work that in the 1970s led to the task of differentiating between the affective disorders. Roth’s obituary in the Daily Telegraph in Oct 2006 maintains that ‘his greatest contribution lay in his emphasis on categorisation, on clinical diagnosis, on the formulation of reliable and objective systems for describing psychopathology’. How successful were Roth’s efforts? According to the obituary of Roth written by Claude Wischik, Roth emphasised a ‘quantitative scientific approach using mathematics, genetics, experimental biology and physics’. His ‘perceptions were enshrined…in definitions of distinctive forms of illness captured in DSM [the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistics Manual] and ICD [WHO’s International Classification of Disease]’.

I’m not quite sure where Claude has witnessed maths, genetics, experimental biology and physics being utilised in the diagnosis of mental health problems but I have certainly never seen it happening and I don’t know of any other patient who has. What I and most other people I have known observed was diagnoses being made after short superficial interviews and cases of numerous patients receiving a number of different diagnoses over a period of time. Dr Tony Roberts only had one diagnosis – borderline personality disorder. Dafydd only had one diagnosis for private patients – PTSD. Other diagnoses from Dafydd depended upon what was convenient for his purposes at that particular moment – over the course of a few months he told people that I had paranoid schizophrenia, a process psychosis, a disturbed personality disorder and then told me that I had manic depressive insanity. Two years later, after I had complained about him, he agreed with Professor Robert Bluglass that I was criminally insane. Which mathematical equations and laws of physics they used to make those diagnoses I do not know – there are no references to maths and physics on any medical notes of mine. Or even experimental biology and genetics. Whenever I have read DSM I have seen no references to the equations and physics necessary to make any of the diagnoses detailed within. I suspect that all of the psychiatry that I encountered was actually predicated on the Neil Davies methodology ie. ‘DAJ issue’ being the most important symptom to be taken into account.

During Roth’s career, psychiatry did of course come under attack and Roth defended psychiatry against its critics, the most famous of that time being R.D. Laing, Thomas Szasz and Ivan Illich. Roth challenged Szasz’s view that ‘psychiatry merely provides a police and custodial service on behalf of the socio-political establishment to deal with deviancy’. I have to contradict Roth – in north Wales, that is exactly what psychiatry did and Neil Davies and Bob Woods knew it. Critics of Szasz, including Roth, maintain that mental illness is ‘real’ and the problem is how to help. That is perfectly true – I witnessed numerous people in north Wales who were deeply distressed, who were suicidal, who were so clinically depressed that they could not talk, walk any distance or look after themselves or who were living with serious psychotic symptoms. But whether they received ‘care’ or ‘treatment’ and what ‘care’ or ‘treatment’ (or diagnosis) they received had far less to do with their symptoms or degree of distress than the vendettas being conducted against anyone who dared complain about Dafydd and the paedophiles. People were undoubtedly often left to die if they had dared cross the path of those we know and love. A common pattern was incarceration in the North Wales Hospital (when it was still in operation) and if that didn’t shut someone up it was transfer to Risley Remand Centre/prison/secure psychiatric unit, all the way up to the level of Broadmoor/Ashworth/Rampton if necessary. It is clear from my records that this was the course planned for me. Not because I’d assaulted anyone, committed violent offences etc – but because I had complained about Dafydd, Gwynne the lobotomist and Tony Francis (Dr X). This was also the path followed by so many of the children in care in north Wales who were abused by the paedophile ring. There really was no correlation with any degree of illness. After Denbigh closed, the solution was to fail to provide any care and support or indeed basics such as housing and disability benefits, whilst harassing and threatening the patient and then to stand back and wait for them to turn up dead sooner or later.

Professor Anthony Clare interviewed Thomas Szasz on ‘In The Psychiatrist’s Chair’ many years ago and accused Szasz of cruelty in failing to recognise the suffering caused by mental illness – Szasz became very angry with Clare for trying to colonise the moral high ground. Szasz’s ideas certainly can be used to justify cruelty – the Arfon Community Mental Health Team used to quote Szasz when they justified abandoning their clients to suicide – but Dafydd et al have had a ball with conventional psychiatry. Except that of course when it suited them, they started quoting Laing and Szasz…

As for Ivan Illich, Roth claimed that he was ‘a brooding presence in night, like a dysfunctional lighthouse, emitting shafts of darkness to confuse unwary travellers’. Unwary travellers were confused far more by Dafydd facilitating a paedophile ring whilst utilising a network of psychiatrists across the UK – some of them being of international stature – to ensure that he was never held to account (let alone stopped) and that anyone who challenged him was ruined.

I note with some irony that Roth wrote about the use of psychiatry to silence Soviet dissidents…

Roth’s Daily Telegraph obituary maintained that ‘Roth never lost his sympathy for the individual patient or his awareness of the reality of his or her suffering’. I never met Martin Roth, he may have been an excellent, compassionate doctor. However, at least two who had worked in his empire at Newcastle ignored a great deal of suffering indeed…

In 2006 Roth’s former student Claude Wischik noted that ‘the times of vast psychiatric institutions housing populations in excess of 1000 souls in varying degrees of torment and hopelessness are still etched in the collective social consciousness and their residue lives on in the stigma which is still so often attached to mental illness’. I would argue that rather than stigma arising from the population’s collective memory of asylums, it arises from psychiatrists telling third parties that people are ‘criminally insane’ or ‘extremely dangerous’ or indeed merely ‘disordered personalities’ because of a ‘DAJ issue’ many years ago…

In terms of it’s status as a profession, it seems that psychiatry has a lot to be grateful to Martin Roth for. Not only was he the first President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, but his ‘expert early nurture’ was instrumental in it’s ‘robust growth’ into the powerful institution with political muscle that it is today.

Like all medical institutions that want to be taken seriously, the Royal College of Psychiatrists has a very grand office – it is situated in Belgravia. It was Martin Roth who assisted with the acquisition of this very upmarket building. Roth’s Times obituary explains that there was great difficulty in raising the money for the ‘splendid late-Georgian town house, 17 Belgravia Square SW1’, but with the ‘persuasive wiles of Roth, the influence of Lord Goodman and a very substantial gift from the charitable Trust of Marks & Spencer, it was done’. My first thought was what fiddle had Marks & Spencer been involved in, particularly as Arnold Goodman – Harold Wilson’s solicitor who was widely believed to have been a crook – played a role. Lord Goodman acted as legal advisor to Jeremy Thorpe after Thorpe was charged with conspiracy to murder and incitement to kill.

But I have found another article concerning the acquisition of 17 Belgravia Square by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, explaining that the building cost £750,000 (at early 1970s prices) and that ‘the money had to be borrowed and substantial amounts of interest paid’, although there was ‘additional help from generous sponsors’.

So how did a fledgling organisation ever raise and repay that money? £750k was a very great deal of dosh in the early 1970s – 17 Belgravia Square nestles among the residences of relatives of the Royal family. Much of Belgravia is of course owned by one particular relative of the Royal Family – the Duke of Westminster. The Duke of Westminster in the early 70s was Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, Prince Charles’s mate – who is now dead – but was the President of the City of Chester Conservative Association when Sir Peter Morrison was MP for Chester and molesting boys in care in north Wales (see post ‘I Want Serious Money Now Please’). Gerald Cavendish also had a claim on St George’s Hospital Medical School – who concealed Dafydd and the paedophiles’ friends’ wrongdoing – because his family provided the money for the charitable Trust which founded St George’s (see post ‘Running The Country – And All That Jazz’).

Not that setting up shop in a palatial building in the poshest part of London was ever what Roth and the Royal College wanted – Roth explained that ‘we didn’t chose to go to a fashionable place but we couldn’t find any other’. Presumably there were no tin sheds in Basildon available when Roth and the Royal College of Psychiatrists went looking for office space, so they were dragged kicking and screaming into Belgravia.

Martin Roth was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1996, one of only three psychiatrists ever to have been given such an honour (one of the others was Sigmund Freud).

In his obituary in the British Journal of Psychiatry in April 2007, Roth was described as ‘the most respected and most successful psychiatrist of his generation’. Roth studied medicine at St Mary’s Paddington and although nearly every article available about him stresses his Messianic qualities, his deep compassion for his patients, his inspirational role as a teacher and a scientist, a Special Article in the British Journal of Psychiatry April 2007, ‘Sir Martin Roth: An Appreciation’, explains that Roth stated that his decision to embark upon a career in medicine arose out of ‘the necessity to qualify at something I could make a living at’.

My suspicions that two of the north Wales contingent passing through Roth’s empire helped ensure that the wrongdoing on their patch was concealed in the same way that Dafydd’s stint under Bob Hobson at the Maudsley ensured that no-one ever fessed up to exactly what Dafydd was doing lest the reputation of Hobson took a tumble, were fuelled by a comment of Claude Wischik, Professor of Geratology at Aberdeen, after Roth’s death. Claude observed that he was the last of the ‘Roth-Mafia’, the Professors of Psychiatry trained and inspired by Roth. That’s the problem with medicine – it really does operate as a Mafia, with a network that no-one is allowed to leave or dishonour. If you do, you’ll be sleeping with the fishes. Who ever was going to admit that two of those who had trained at the knee of one of ‘the most successful and most respected psychiatrist of his generation’ were working with old Dafydd who was colluding with organised crime? Far easier to perpetuate the myth that they’re all ’eminent’ up there in north Wales – although for some reason for donkeys years that quiet rural region had a terrifyingly high suicide rate…

 

Martin Roth was a lifelong friend of Eliot Slater – he who suggested procuring the King’s sperm – and they co-authored together. One account of Roth’s career states that Roth met Eliot Slater when he went to work at the Maudsley, but another account states that Slater invited Roth to come to work at the Maudsley with him. The lack of clarity could be significant because although Roth did work at the Maudsley after he qualified, things did not go smoothly and he left prematurely.

My post ‘The Case Of The King’s Sperm’ provided some details of Slater’s unpleasant notions and running mates. Slater was not simply ‘a man of his time’, he clung on to his fondness for lobotomy long after it had become discredited and when he was younger he had worked with Ernst Rudin, the architect of Hitler’s eugenic sterilization policies. Slater was an enthusiastic eugenicist who worked at the Maudsley/Institute of Psychiatry for decades. He will have been there when Dafydd ‘trained’ at the Maudsley.

Roth credited Slater with being ‘the greatest influence on his intellectual development, firing him with a conviction that scientific method could be used to elucidate clinical psychiatric problems’. Roth was ‘impressed by the scientific integrity and precision of Eliot Slater’s writings’.

Slater went to work at the Maudsley as Senior Registrar to Professor Sir Aubrey Lewis. The Maudsley was considered to be the ‘Mecca of academic psychiatry in the UK’.  One toadying commentator stated that Slater and Lewis were ‘both intellectual titans’ but ‘proved to be incompatible’. Slater himself stated of Aubrey Lewis: ‘at first I was impressed but later I found he poured jars of cold water on people, some of whom gave splendid presentations’. Whether Slater is referring to real or metaphorical jars of cold water I do not know – this lot were so crazy and so arrogant that they would have quite capable of drenching one another when lecturing. Whatever was going on, Slater felt that he had no option other than to leave the Maudsley after only two years. In his own words ‘I felt unhappy and it was clear that I had no future there’.

Aubrey Lewis was yet another mad eugenicist – he died in 1975. He was born in Australia and qualified as a doctor from the University of Adelaide. He then carried out some anthropological work on Aborigines – it can be assumed that was probably quite unsavoury. He arrived at the Maudsley in 1928 and became Clinical Director in 1936. Lewis was a member of the Eugenics Society and contributed to a 1934 volume ‘The Chances of Morbid Inheritance’, edited by Carlos Blacker (another psychiatrist who was in hot pursuit of the King’s sperm, along with Slater). This book has been described as being ‘remarkable for its total admiration for the German work and workers, including Ernst Rudin’. The ‘German work’ was of course all that eugenic thought that so influenced Hitler and which he put into practice…

In 1946 the Maudsley was designated the Institute of Psychiatry, under the auspices of the University of London. Aubrey Lewis was appointed to the inaugural Chair of Psychiatry at the Institute, which he held until his retirement in 1966. Aubrey’s wiki entry proudly reproduces a quote that stated that it is ‘said that the flowering of British psychiatry after World War II can be attributed to three things: a long humanitarian tradition, the NHS and Aubrey Lewis’.

‘Humanitarian tradition’ is not a phrase that one readily associates with these unhinged adherents to the ideology which excited the Nazis so much. If British psychiatry did any flowering following World war II it could probably be best compared to the blooming of Amorphophallus titanium aka the Corpse Flower, a plant with a giant bloom that smells of rotting flesh.

The Maudsley is nothing if not good at promoting itself. Aubrey Lewis was credited with attracting ‘many of the most promising medical graduates from around the world’. So that’s how Dafydd found himself entering through their doors then.

Aubrey Lewis was a member of the Advisory Committee on Medical Research of WHO.

Lewis had a most effective PR man who worked with him, a psychiatrist called Michael Shepherd, who died in 1995. Shepherd worked with Roth. Shepherd notes that Lewis had an ‘austere appearance’, which was captured in portraits which some people stated made him look ‘mean’. Shepherd however was able to confirm that this was deceiving, Aubrey was a lovely old buffer.

Michael Shepherd was yet another towering figure in British psychiatry – the Maudsley churned them out – who was born in and went to school in Cardiff no less. Shepherd started working in psychiatry at the Maudsley in 1947 and in 1956 joined the staff of the Institute of Psychiatry as a Senior Lecturer. In 1961 he became a Reader at the Institute and in 1967 he was appointed to the Chair of Epidemiological Psychiatry, yet another world first. Shepherd was also a Consultant Psychiatrist at the Maudsley – he spent his whole career at the Maudsley/Institute of Psychiatry except for 1955-56, which he spent at John Hopkins University, Baltimore. So Shepherd will have been another giant who was at the Maudsley when dear old Dafydd ‘trained’ there.

Shepherd was a Founding Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 1971. Who knows, perhaps he contributed to the palace in Belgravia for which they had to beg, steal and borrow to fund.

In the late 50s, Shepherd established a GP Research Unit at the Institute of Psychiatry under the auspices of the DHSS. He remained the Director of this Unit until he retired in 1988. Shepherd maintained that the capacity of the mental health services could not be enhanced by an ever-proliferating number of psychiatrists, it could only be enhanced by GPs focussing on the more minor psychiatric problems. Thus Shepherd pressed for better support and training for GPs, rather than more resources for psychiatry which certainly pissed a lot of his psychiatrist colleagues off. Shepherd himself stressed the interpersonal and social aspects of a case and left the epidemiological studies to his team of young researchers.

Enhancing the role of GPs, emphasising the interpersonal and the social – are we talking about a human being for once among all the lobotomising eugenicists that Dafydd rubbed shoulders with? Probably not – I have only found one patient opinion as opposed to the many colleagues of Shepherd who recorded his splendours – the patient spoke of Shepherds ‘chillingly superior glance’. Yes, that probably summed up the extent of his communication skills. ‘You’re a piece of shit and of course no-one’s facilitating a paedophile ring or shagging the patients – now let me introduce you to Dr Gwynne Williams and his ice-pick…’

Michael Shepherd devised a classification system which involved identifying the dreadful Aubrey Lewis as a ‘representative psychiatrist’, whom Shepherd seemed to feel embodied all the elements of one who was great and good in that profession.

Shepherd was the founding Editor of ‘Psychological Medicine’, the go-to journal between 1969-93.

There are hints that Shepherd had help in achieving the status of a Colossus. It was observed that ‘it is important to note that he was served by generations of young research workers whose assistance helped him achieve the epidemiological studies for which he is renowned’. His former student the media psychiatrist Anthony Clare stated that Michael Shepherd was ‘without equal’ in his record of ‘selecting and nurturing young men and women who would go on to fill senior academic posts in Britain and throughout the world’. So they did his research for him – although I bet he still put his own name on the publications and he may even have left theirs off – and if they were lucky he ‘selected and nurtured’ them. There’ll be a lot of senior people who owe their careers to Shepherd – and probably a few who had their careers brought to a sharp stop by him as well. Clare explained that Shepherd ‘identified able and committed doctors in Africa, Asia, South America and East Europe on his travels…he often raised funds for their salaries and took a great personal involvement…securing them a foot on the ladder of academic achievement, whilst helping to maintain the Maudsley’s position as one of the world’s great postgrad centres for teaching and research’. So Shepherd had his paws on the purse strings as well then.

Michael Shepherd sounded as though he wielded a great deal of power in post-war psychiatry. No wonder everyone continued to hail the Maudsley as a fine institution, despite the Nazi sympathisers and pursuers of Royal sperm on which its foundations were built. No-one was going to dare admit the monster that was Dafydd had been spawned down there. Presumably Michael Shepherd didn’t ‘select and nurture’ Dafydd – he sent him back to north Wales when he realised what Dafydd was like. I can’t believe that they didn’t notice what Dafydd was like – there’s no way that he went from competent trainee at the Maudsley to lunatic facilitating a paedophile ring and sexually exploiting the patients the minute that he hit home turf. The attitude will have been what it was at St George’s/Springfield – we know what Dafydd is doing but as long as he’s not doing it on our patch we don’t give a damn.

 

As I read about the barking mad deeply unpleasant megalomaniacs at the Maudsley, I was struck by how many of them were described as highly cultured men, who loved arts and the ballet, literature, poetry and music and who spent much time pursuing such interests – as well as of course being scientific geniuses who overflowed with compassion for the poor wretches who filled their clinics. No I don’t believe it either.

In 1967 a collection of essays and articles by Aubrey Lewis was published. It was called ‘The State of psychiatry’. That State was an absolute disgrace then and it’s no better now.

 

 

 

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.

‘It’s Not Fucking Rocket Science’

A follower of this blog has e mailed me after reading yesterday’s post ‘A Culture of Steady and Sustained Improvement???’ in which I discussed  the con that is ‘service user led research’. (I have discussed this elsewhere on the blog as well.) My correspondent has had a look at the websites of a few of these bodies who claim to be ’empowering service users’, from the National Centre for Mental Health Wales through to CAIS through to ‘Choosing Wisely’. He has experienced the glorious mental health services in north Wales for himself and makes the point that a far as he can see, everything that is being presented as ‘service user led research’ is already very well-established (quite true – it was all covered in classical sociological theory years ago and the travesty that is the current incarnation of ‘service user empowerment’ was effectively demolished by scholars like John Clark, Janet Newman and Theo Stickley virtually as soon as it reared it’s ugly head under Tony Blair’s administration). My reader questions the need for all these groups and organisations that are ’empowering service users’ and comments that ‘surely the straplines of these organisations should be part of a professional’s training, to make decisions in the best interests of the patient and as far as possible to involve the patient in their care and treatment and make decisions together. It’s not fucking rocket science’.

No it isn’t rocket science. The reason why ‘service user led research’ has grown legs instead of dying on the vine as it should have, is that the said ‘service user led research’ has been entirely colonised by mental health professionals who are building careers out of it in a way that service users are not and cannot. Two of the biggest names on a UK-wide level are Peter Beresford and Rachel Perkins. Peter Beresford was a former social worker who reconstructed himself as a specialist in service user led research and has got a Chair and an OBE out of it and Rachel Perkins is a clinical psychologist who was the former clinical director of Springfield Hospital at a time when the most appalling scandals were taking place there (I have detailed this elsewhere on the blog), who also reconstructed herself as a service user expert and now sits on the European Commission for Human Rights. Beresford and Perkins know exactly how grim the mental health services are but they have kept completely quiet about the most serious abuses. (As have most people in the Third Sector ‘speaking for service users’ – the one admirable exception is Matilda MacAttram, who campaigns on black mental health issues. Matilda is not afraid to talk about what is actually going on – sectioned mental health patients being tasered by police officers whilst they are actually in hospital, patients being choked to death whilst being ‘restrained’ by nurses, patients dying as a direct result of medical problems caused by the ‘medication’ that they have been forced to take…)

Of course, what mental health professionals who are conducting the ‘service user led research’ never bother to analyse is their dominant social position in comparison with the ‘service users’. Most of them are psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers or mental health nurses and do not have a good grounding in sociology, which is why they are committing such howlers. Any reader of Pierre Bourdieu would see immediately that the problem is domination. Thus the people carrying out the ‘service user led research’ are in a position to call the shots and it is of course they who publish the (sometimes very questionable) research. This has led to spectacles that my correspondent mentions, that of ‘service users’ being forced to travel miles and paraded in front of audiences by the person who is doing the ‘service user led research’. The service user is not in a position to refuse – they are dependent upon the professional or the professional’s network for their care and probably their welfare benefits as well. Saying no is not really an option. I witnessed this at Bangor University about five years ago. Professor Rob Poole, that psychiatrist from north Wales who is so committed to ‘service user research’, turned up at a research meeting with a ‘service user’ in tow to demonstrate just how dedicated he was. The service user didn’t know any of us, had never met most of us before and wasn’t given a chance to meet us before the meeting. She was led by Poole into a meeting with about a dozen experienced academic researchers around a table and asked to explain the ‘research’. She actually said ‘I’m so frightened that I can’t speak’. Poole did nothing at all to put her at ease – that was left to the Professor of Sociology and some of the other researchers. So how empowering was that? At about this time, the person who ‘co-directs’ the ‘Centre for Mental Health and Society’ along with Poole, Professor Catherine Robinson – now the ‘Academic Lead’ for the ‘service users and carers partnership’ with the National Centre for Mental Health – carried out some ‘service user research’ with Dr Richard Tranter. I was interested to see the outputs – all academics involved were cited in full with the service users referred to en masse as ‘and others’. So academics get Chairs, funding and salaries from their service user led research – the service users don’t even get their names on a publication. And they continue to be abused and neglected by some of the very people claiming expertise in ‘service user research’. I also came across a case of a ‘service user’ in south Wales who had been put under so much pressure to perform where the ‘service user led research’ was concerned that he completely buckled under the pressure. Unlike academics who take time off for stress, he didn’t have a salary to fall back on.

Mental health professionals doing rather better themselves from empowering service users than the users does have a history. There is a resurgence of interest in R.D. Laing at the moment and a film about him is shortly to be released. Now Laing trained and worked as a psychiatrist when the likes of T. Gwynne Williams worked as ‘superintendents’ of places like the North Wales Hospital Denbigh. Those institutions were dreadful and people were beginning to question them. Laing was very much sharper and charismatic than your average psychiatrist and he was able to build up a very big following indeed by ‘challenging psychiatry’. It certainly needed to be challenged and much of Laing’s published work is brilliant. But in the same way that Rob Poole is actually doing bugger all to empower service users, Laing’s commitment to liberating mental patients was limited. There was certainly a degree of exploitation – he and David Cooper would these days undoubtedly be considered to have been sexually exploiting, if not abusing, patients. Laing was also known to have walked away from some patients who proved to be a bit too difficult and was alleged to have had some hauled off to the sort of asylums that he built a career out of condemning. His own daughter ended up as an in-patient in a particularly dreadful institution, in fact I think it was the Royal Gartnavel Hospital, where Laing had worked himself. Members of his family allege that he abandoned this daughter to that institution. Many years ago I met someone who had known Laing at the height of his fame. This man had been a patient of his and had said that there was a great deal of neglect going on. He and other patients would have appointments with Laing and would be there waiting – only to be told things like Laing wouldn’t be available for their appointment  but he had been seen in the country within the last week, so they were expecting to see him soon. Not very liberating really when you’re suffering and you’ve waited months for the appointment. But of course Laing always said the right thing in media interviews – who was to know what was happening to the patients themselves? They weren’t giving lectures and being interviewed. And they weren’t writing the books – or indeed the medical records.

So saying the right thing can hide a very unpleasant reality. In 1999, I met someone who considered himself to be committed to ’empowering’ patients, attending all the right conferences etc. When he discovered that I knew the abusive thugs that were the Arfon Community Mental Health Team, he asked me why they were so unpopular among patients. I gave him a few examples – threatening to assault patients in their own homes, having them arrested on the basis of untrue statements made to the police etc. He told me that he couldn’t understand what was going on because he had met them at conferences and they came across as ‘very radical, followers of Thomas Szasz’. Szasz famously argued of course that mental illness doesn’t exist and likened it to the medieval witch crazes. I know how the Arfon Team used Szasz’s arguments – they used them to bully and neglect patients in a way that I don’t think Szasz meant his ideas to be used. ‘Suicidal? Well it’s your choice – go ahead and kill yourself.’ Free will! And patients of the Arfon Team did kill themselves – in great numbers. Keith Fearns the ‘team leader’ was so used to doing this that he failed to realise that people were taking notes. I know a member of Bangor University staff who was supporting a student with mental health problems who was threatening to throw himself off the Menai Bridge who was aghast when they spoke to Fearns only to be told ‘let him go and do it then – if he bothers me again I’ll section the little bastard’. Ah, a true champion of patients! All this in the name of Thomas Szasz…

My reader’s observations came at a most fortuitous time. Yesterday Dr David Healy tweeted a quote from one of the comments that he had received in response to his latest blog post. The quote was ‘Time to shift our focus from “chemical imbalances” to power imbalances’. I couldn’t agree more David. You had an awful lot more power than Karl Boothroyd did when his family called you out worried about his mental health – you found him out in the snow barefoot and declared him to be ‘as sane as I am’. He killed himself hours later. You had an awful lot more power than another patient who had tried to kill himself repeatedly after being refused treatment by the Hergest Unit when you told his partner that ‘he’ll carry on doing this until he kills himself’ after she went to see you in despair and asked you ‘what happens now’. And you had an awful lot more power than I did nearly twenty years ago when, without my knowledge, you told everyone at the Hergest Unit that if I arrived there I was not to be treated but was to be arrested instead. So yes, I’d agree that we should be looking at power imbalances instead of chemical ones. Your mate Richard Tranter knew that just before he fled to New Zealand when he glared at me, demanded to know who in the university I was talking to regarding what had happened to me at the hands of the mental health services and told me that I was a very powerful person. That was before I took delivery of 10,000 incriminating documents stretching back thirty years. It’s an experiment David! (But you don’t know when the experiment started do you…)  A three decades long ethnographic study of the UK mental health services. Mind you judging from his blog I think Healy’s worked that out in a way that poor old Poole et al haven’t. But then David isn’t as thick as them and his social skills are much better as well – which is how he has managed to build a career challenging orthodox psychiatry whilst up to his eye-balls in some pretty disgusting things. David Healy – a latter day Ronnie Laing! David has made a few snide comments on his blog about social scientists – if only he’d been a sociologist himself he would have seen all this coming… It’s all about domination David – in a purely Bourdeuisian way of course…

I am glad to say that in the last year or so I have read some very strong challenges to the smokescreen for abuse and failure that is service userdom, but it seems to be largely concerning groups other than people with mental health problems. Some of the best material that I’ve come across has been regarding people with learning disabilities, who are being exterminated by the health and welfare services in much the same way as people with severe mental health problems are. Perhaps healthcare professionals themselves haven’t got quite such a tight grip on that field of research. The outlook in mental health remains grim. Despite all the dosh being thrown at ‘service user led research’ in mental health, the one thing you will not find funding for or be able to place in health and social care journals is work exploring the abuse of patients by mental health professionals. I am not the only person to have noticed this. The feminist historian Professor Barbara Taylor wrote an excellent autobiographical account of her experiences as one of the last patients in Friern Barnet Hospital, ‘The Last Asylum’, and being an academic herself conducted an extensive search for literature in health and social care journals concerning abuse of patients in the mental health system – like me, she found hardly any. Because it just doesn’t happen does it…

Five Dig Further Into The Heddfan Unit

One of my friends has today remarked that what happened to me at the hands of the dreadful Dr Sambhi in the Heddfan Unit at Wrexham Maelor (please see my blog post ‘A Tale Worthy of Enid Blyton’) was so macabre that the Enid Blyton reference doesn’t do justice to the horror. However Enid Blyton didn’t just write about Noddy and Big Ears – I seem to remember that the Famous Five faced some pretty nasty people who were prone to holding them captive. (Of course what with Enid Blyton being Enid Blyton, the unpleasant people who captured the Famous Five were always very working class – my tale involves an unpleasant person who is a middle class professional.)

‘A Tale Worthy of Enid Blyton’ details some of the very serious unsubstantiated allegations that Sambhi documented upon my records as well as his ‘evidence’ of my ‘delusions’ ie. my references to the paedophile ring that was operating in north Wales and the neglect and abuse in the mental health services. Among the files are numerous references by Sambhi regarding my complete refusal to admit to my ‘serious mental illness’ – which was taken by him to be yet more evidence of just how mad I was. As with my reference to Rosenhan’s 1973 classic ‘On Being Sane In Insane Places’ in my blog post ‘Inappropriate Behaviour?’, Sambhi’s notes bring to mind academic classics – these are of course Thomas Szasz’s ‘The Myth of Mental Illness’ (1961) and ‘The Manufacture of Madness’ (1970). It’s many years since I read these books, but I remember many of the arguments presented within. Szasz became famous for comparing psychiatry to witch-hunts – if you confess to being a witch/mentally ill, then obviously you are; if however you don’t confess to being a witch/mentally ill, then this is also confirmation that you are a witch/mentally ill. Szasz critically discussed the notion of ‘insight’ – you are not ‘better’ until you have ‘insight’ ie. admit that you are ill. The notes that Sambhi and his acolytes made about me are dripping with references to ‘insight’ – I had none, because I continued to insist that there had been a paedophile ring in north Wales and that the mental health services were rife with abuse and neglect. Szasz’s work is internationally famous – I would have thought that every psychiatrist these days would have read it. But it’s clearly escaped dear old Sambhi.

There was something else interesting about Sambhi’s reports. There was an awful lot of things that he failed to mention. I can find no references to the Hergest Unit’s admission that ‘mistakes were made’; there is no reference to the mental health services previous admission of ‘serious failures’; and there is not a word about the incidents in which I was threatened and/or refused treatment by NHS staff in front of witnesses (please see blog post ‘Two Dangerous and Very Dishonest Nurses’), or of course to the attempt to frame me for making a ‘hoax call’ when I was ringing A&E for advice, that was also witnessed by a third party (please see blog post ‘An Attempt To Frame Me – Witnessed’). Another thing that did not end up in Sambhi’s ‘reports’ were the observations of some nurses that I was ‘pleasant’, ‘warm’ and ‘friendly’. Sambhi had worked very hard at painting a picture of a dangerous maniac and had studiously avoided mentioning anything that might detract from this image.

Whilst I was in Tryweryn Ward (Sambhi’s ward) I was attacked by other patients on two occasions. It was interesting to see how these incidents were recorded. One incident occurred when I had visitors and I was walking out of the visitors room down the corridor, to go to the loo. When I was in the corridor, a newly admitted patient with whom I had had no previous contact grabbed me by the head and started trying to yank my head off. A number of staff had to get her off me. This incident was documented and it was noted that they had to restrain this woman to prevent me from being injured. However, this was followed by a one-off sentence stating that the incident must have occurred because of my ‘behaviour’. The only ‘behaviour’ that I’d exhibited was to leave a room and walk down a corridor. On another occasion I was in the lunch queue when a very disorientated man standing right next to me spontaneously threw a very hot cup of tea over me – I was scalded on the head and there was quite a lot of fuss because a nurse ran at top speed to obtain an ice-pack, which I then had to hold against my head for the next few hours. I was asked if I wanted to prosecute this man and I replied of course not, I’m not a member of staff at the Hergest Unit. This incident was also documented, although somewhat inaccurately, with the emphasis on me not wanting to make a complaint (which now I think about it is hardly consistent with Sambhi’s caricature of me as a dangerous nutter). Despite these two incidents, I did not notice any efforts to make the ward safer for me or anyone else – one unprovoked attack had been actively blamed on me and the other incident was pretty much dismissed when I said that I didn’t want to prosecute the man involved. When I mentioned the serious health and safety issues on the ward at a later point, I was told ‘well you chose not to prosecute him’. (As if this would be the solution…)

When I was captured by Sambhi, I noticed that some of the staff in Tryweryn seemed very uncomfortable with what was going on. They were very obviously intimidated by him and didn’t dare voice their opinions in front of him – one particularly dim nurse simply colluded with him and parroted everything that he said. My blog post ‘Inappropriate Behaviour’ describes a very bright healthcare assistant who used to watch everything that was happening and make pertinent comments. There was one very quiet member of staff who would discreetly come up to me and kept saying ‘I’m so sorry that this is happening’.

Then there was an interesting incident at Christmas. The staff became very obviously more relaxed when there was no danger of Sambhi appearing and one morning they were all in good spirits, playing Christmas music. They were playing Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’ and slowed the music right down, so Crosby’s voice became a very deep, slow heavy drawl. Then one of them yelled out ‘that’s one of the patients after they’ve seen Sambhi’ – and the rest of them rolled around with laughter. I realised then that they had indeed noticed what Sambhi was doing – declaring everyone mad and loading them up with so many drugs that they could barely function.

There were a few interesting things happening to other patients as well as to me. There were some patients who were clearly unwell but I noticed a few inconsistencies with others. There was a young Muslim man who spent nearly all the time in his room, but was frequently visited by his mum who would bring in home-baked treats. He would always then go around the ward asking if anyone wanted to try his mum’s cooking. He was always friendly and polite but very isolated – it was obvious that there was no other patient there that this young man could socialise with. There was one very difficult patient on the ward who was sexually very aggressive – but because she was elderly and female, the staff seemed completely unable to acknowledge this. She was constantly trying to grope people and in particular physically harassed the male patients. (They observed that if they were doing this to female patients, the hospital would have undoubtedly had them arrested.) She targeted the young Muslim man constantly, who just did his best to keep out of her way. On the day that he was discharged, he packed his football bag and literally ran out of the door. I commented to one of the nurses ‘what on earth did that young man think of this place?’. ‘Not much I should think’ replied the nurse.

I was obviously not the only person labelled dangerous by Sambhi and the dim nurse who colluded with him. One evening a new patient arrived, a man whose room was next to mine. He stayed up late and was busy in his room, sorting clothes, listening to (quiet) music and then at about midnight decided to have a shower. (This didn’t disturb anyone else because the Heddfan Unit is a new building and all the rooms have en suite showers.) I went out to the main bit of the ward and found the dim nurse on the phone to someone wailing loudly ‘It’s not safe, it’s not safe, he’s dangerous, he won’t go to sleep and now he’s in the shower’. And about twenty minutes later two policemen turned up. And they hung around for about an hour, until eventually the dim nurse emerged with a big self-satisfied grin and said ‘I think it’s OK now, you can go’. I watched this man over the following few weeks – within days he was so drugged up that he was indeed sounding like Bing Crosby did when the staff slowed the music down – but I could not for the life of me see anything about him that suggested that he required the presence of two policeman when he was having a midnight shower.

Sambhi had documented on my notes that ‘this admission shows how serious this mental illness is’. I would suggest that Sambhi’s accompanying records show how bloody dangerous Sambhi is. Since escaping Sambhi’s clutches (which only happened when Sambhi went away for two weeks and a locum doctor turned up who was actually relatively normal, met me twice and then let me out – if this hadn’t have happened I’d probably still be sitting in Tryweryn Ward now), I have been told a number of times that there are now serious problems in the Heddfan Unit and there have of course been a number of suicides there recently. It would seem that Raj Sambhi is the Tony Roberts of the Heddfan Unit – dismissing patients who dare complain as mad and bad, trashing them in any way possible, whilst the Unit becomes increasingly more unsafe and patients begin to die. The ultimate irony would be if any of those suicides were being detained in Tryweryn Ward because they were maintaining that there was neglect and abuse in the mental health services in north Wales – those services currently in special measures and under investigation because of, er, neglect and abuse…