Enter Professor Robert Bluglass CBE…

A previous blog post (‘The Blog Post That Was Hacked Can Now Be Read’) describes how, after both Gwynedd and Clwyd Health Authorities and the Mental Health Act Commission completely failed to investigate my complaints regarding my unlawful detention in the North Wales Hospital as well as the other unlawful and unscrupulous conduct of the north Wales mental health services, I was offered an Independent Professional Review regarding my complaint. This was organised by Professor Robert Owen, the Medical Complaints Officer for the Welsh Office – yet unbeknown to me, the Welsh Office had for many months been supplying legal advice to the north Wales mental health services regarding how to respond (or rather not respond) to my complaints. The post (‘The Blog Post That Was Hacked Can Now Be Read’) describes the meetings and huge amount of correspondence that was passing between the north Wales mental health services and the Welsh Office lawyers regarding me, as well as meetings and correspondence between the people that I was complaining about and Prof Owen, who was organising the investigation into the very same people. There was also a lot of people offering to give ‘information’ to Prof Owen – one of these was my former GP, Dr DGE Wood, who was not even named in my complaint. I had no idea that Wood was playing any part in all this.

Although I had requested the Review by the autumn of 1988, it was July 1989 before the Review was held. Because no-one had responded to my complaints it was by then more than two years since the events that I had complained about.

However, Prof Owen had seemed genuine in his desire to see this complaint dealt with and I was informed that the Assessors reviewing the complaint would be Professor Robert Bluglass and Dr Colin Berry. Colin Berry was a psychiatrist from Coventry. Bluglass held a Chair at the University of Birmingham and in the 1980s and 1990s was the biggest name in forensic psychiatry in the UK. He had written the 1983 Mental Health Act, as well as one of the best known textbooks in forensic psychiatry. He was frequently called upon to lead enquiries and investigations. So I presumed that such a man would recognise bad practice and law-breaking when he saw it. Indeed he very obviously did – although his reaction was interesting. Although the Review was supposedly being held by both Bluglass and Berry, it was clear to me at the hearing that Bluglass had the upper hand and was leading the way.

The initial paragraphs of Bluglass’s and Berry’s report state that they had been nominated by the Joint Consultants Committee (I wonder who was sitting on that) to carry out a review of my complaints about my clinical management at Ysbyty Gwynedd Bangor and the North Wales Hospital Denbigh. They state that they had been provided with comprehensive documentation, including copies of case records and correspondence and had studied these at length. A number of witnesses were called to give evidence to the Assessors – I am aware that one nurse from Denbigh who was requested to give evidence refused to attend. The Assessors also took evidence from staff at Ysbyty Gwynedd and although they stated that they would be reviewing my clinical management at Ysbyty Gwynedd as well as at Denbigh, nothing relating to events at Ysbyty Gwynedd was mentioned in their report. There was also no reference at all to the one person who did not break the law – a social worker who had refused to section me when requested/ordered to do so. When I had tried to find out who this social worker was, I was told that there was no record of her. However, documents recently released from my lawyers reveal that she was a social worker called Ann Williams from Gwynedd Social Services and that her identity was known and had been documented by Ysbyty Gwynedd staff by the time that this Review was accepting evidence. There was no mention of her at any point during the Review.

The Assessors stated in their report that they interviewed me, Dr Dafydd Alun Jones from Denbigh, Dr X from Ysbyty Gwynedd, a Dr Ramiah from Clwyd Health Authority, Dr Neil Davies from Denbigh, a charge nurse from Denbigh called Michael Williams and Terence James, a social worker who worked at Denbigh. The Assessors also had discussions with Professor Owen, Dr DJ Jones (Chief Administrative Medical Officer, Clwyd Health Authority), Alun Davies (Administrator from Ysbyty Gwynedd) and Dr Duncan Egdell (Community Physician, Clwyd Health Authority). All of these people (except for Prof Owen) had either been the subject of my complaints or had been the senior managers of the subject of my complaints and had all failed to respond to my complaints.

Bluglass’s summary of the background to my complaints in his report had a few noticeable omissions. He fails to mention the appalling behaviour of a Dr Shah in Bangor Police Station before I was admitted to Denbigh (please see blog posts ‘Hippocratic Oath or Hypocritic Oaf?’ and ‘How I Arrived At Denbigh’) and as previously stated social worker Ann Williams wasn’t mentioned, although Bluglass will have undoubtedly known about her attempt to protect me. He states that Dr X had obtained an injunction against me but fails to mention that many of the allegations made by Dr X to obtain that injunction were demonstrably untrue and – the documentation available to Bluglass will have shown this. Bluglass refers to me investigating the ‘private life’ of Jones and that I had referred to ‘various matters’ in my letters. I presume that Bluglass is referring to me putting in writing that Jones had tried to threaten and then bribe me into dropping my complaint about him and me mentioning that a number of patients had made statements alleging that they had had sexual relationships with Jones (at one point he was cohabiting with two female patients at once) – Jones was also in the process of being sued by another patient, Mary Wynch, for false imprisonment. None of this was in the least bit ‘private’ – Jones was notorious in north Wales and such activities were openly discussed. Bluglass was however careful not to mention them in the report. Bluglass stated that I was ‘warm and responsive’, that my letters were ‘well written’ and that I had ‘considerable abilities’. But lest anyone was in danger of taking me seriously, he also stated that I ‘vehemently and excitedly sought to defend and justify [my] actions’ (well I was being accused of doing an awful lot of things that I hadn’t actually done – what I had done was written an awful lot of letters about some people who were involved in criminal activities whilst I was being told how unreasonable I was), that I felt that I ‘had been deeply wronged’ (er, illegally held in a locked ward, threatened constantly and accused repeatedly of very serious offences – yes I think I’d been given a pretty hard time for complaining about some psychiatrists), that I was ‘generally hostile and vindictive to Dr [Dafydd Alun] Jones and made a variety of allegations about him’  (look what he was doing – if only someone had investigated those allegations…) and that I ‘was clearly obsessed with my complaints (well it had been a full-on two year battle to even be heard). The ‘summary’ of my complaints as stated by Bluglass was substantially inaccurate and therefore constrained the terms of the Review – Bluglass stated that the interviews he conducted with staff ‘focussed upon matters relating to the main complaints’.

Bluglass was ‘concerned to have Dr Jones’s explanation as to why an informal patient was admitted to a locked ward’. Jones explained that it was because I ‘was potentially violent’, an explanation that Bluglass accepted. No evidence of my potential violence was requested or offered. Bluglass  was ‘concerned that apparently Dr Jones had only once [ever] briefly seen [me] and had not examined [me] but then gave oral evidence before the Court [to section me]… Dr Jones agreed that he’d given oral evidence. He said that he must have examined her but was unable to draw our attention to any notes relating to the examination and could not recall whether he’d actually examined her, or if he had done so, when the examination took place’. So it was pretty bloody obvious that no ‘examination’ of any sort took place at any point – Jones simply had me picked up by the police and carted off to Denbigh. When I discharged myself, he ordered nurses from Denbigh to transport me to Bangor Police Station, whereupon I was taken next door into Bangor Magistrates Court to find Jones there giving evidence declaring that I was mad and thus I was taken straight back to Denbigh again. Bluglass noted that ‘there are virtually no medical notes from [Jones] in the case record. We were concerned about this…the excellent nursing notes mentioned several times that there was no evidence to justify compulsory admission and no obvious grounds for detention…no recorded medical notes justifying…detention…we asked Dr Jones what discussions he’d had with nurses and others with regard to…the decision to detain her…but he could not draw our attention to any form of case conference…we were concerned about the time it had taken for Jones to respond to the complaints…Dr Jones explained that there were two other patients of a similar nature to this…all generated enormous number of letters and involved complaints…’ Those ‘excellent nursing notes’ actually recorded in detail how Jones had cooked up a plan with the Superintendent at Bangor Police Station to have me detained in Denbigh and that the nurses were most unhappy at being involved in all this – there is also no mention of my ‘violence’ in the ‘excellent nursing notes’. Of course at the time of Bluglass’s Review I was still being prevented from accessing my medical records, so I had no idea that the nurses were complaining about Jones’s law breaking.  Jones also seems to have fessed up to the fact that there were other patients making similar complaints to me – so how many people were being unlawfully banged up in Denbigh?

Bluglass asked Jones what diagnosis he ‘had in mind’ when he made yet another recommendation for my detention on December 29 1987. Jones explained that were times when he thought that I was on the ‘border of a psychosis’ and other times when he thought that I had a ‘severe personality disorder’. However he agreed with the discharge letter of Feb 9 1988 from a senior registrar that the diagnosis would lie between a schizophrenic disorder and borderline personality disorder. (This ‘diagnosis’ was made by a senior registrar whom I had never met – and I left Denbigh in January, not February.) Bluglass asked Jones for any further grounds that I had schizophrenia. Jones replied that he had not taken out an injunction against me, although Dr X had. Jones then stated that I had used ‘foul and obscene language in front of his small children and he felt that people who were reasonably normal do not use foul language’. Jones added that he hadn’t seen anything which would definitely say that I was psychotic. So it’s fairly clear that diagnoses made at Denbigh were rather flaky. Regarding the foul and obscene language – I do swear, but at the time when Jones made this allegation I did not even know that he had small children.  Interestingly enough, Bluglass has a daughter, Amanda, who likes to think of herself as an avant-garde artist. At one point a few years ago Amanda Bluglass was displaying her edgy crafts on the internet – one such exhibit was a little tapestry of a cosy cottage with the slogan ‘Happy Fucking Holidays’ embroidered underneath. Maybe Jones should hurry up and incarcerate her.

Bluglass then invited Jones to tell him if he’d have done anything differently in retrospect. Jones had replied that ‘he did not know if it would be in his power to do anything differently’. So Jones is clearly unable to do anything other than bribe, threaten, slander and libel people and then cook up plans with his colleagues and the local police to have them arrested for crimes that he knows didn’t actually take place knowing that the charges will eventually have to be withdrawn – but not until they’ve been imprisoned in Denbigh. Bluglass stated that he was also concerned about the use of observation and security rooms at Bryn Golau Ward as well as the management of the ward and was told that there was no operational policy. However Bluglass notes that he’s not going to investigate further. So no further enquiries were made about what was very obviously Jones’s private prison.

When Bluglass interviewed Dr X, a psychiatrist from Ysbyty Gwynedd, Dr X told him that he was ‘very concerned’ about my ‘behaviour, allegations and correspondence’. He stated the opinion that I had a ‘paranoid personality disorder’ and exhibited ‘delusional thinking’. Indeed – I did keep insisting that there were gross abuses taking place in the north Wales mental health services.

A charge nurse from Denbigh, Michael Williams, told Bluglass that I was ‘revengeful in attitude’ and ‘had a behaviour problem’. However Mr Williams ‘agreed that the ward was very full, was difficult and oppressive’. He confirmed that very little information had been given to Bryn Golau Ward before I was admitted there – only that Jones had phoned the ward and told them that I was ‘dangerous’. He also admitted that he was ‘not aware’ of Jones examining me before sectioning me. So Mr Williams knew what Jones was up to as well then. (In fact I think Mr Williams knew a few other things about Jones too. When I was incarcerated in Denbigh, Jones turned up to see me at midnight. Mr Williams came into the room and I told him that he could leave again because Jones didn’t need a bodyguard no matter what I had been accused of. Mr Williams told me – in front of Jones – that he was staying in the room and it was for my protection not Jones’s.)

Bluglass then interviewed a social worker, Terence James. He told Bluglass that I didn’t want to be in hospital, that I was depressed and that ‘feelings were heightened on the ward’. The situation was ‘volatile’ – so he agreed to section me to keep me there.

Dr Neil Davies was also interviewed by Bluglass. He maintained that it should have been left to the police to deal with my ‘offences’ and that I ‘was not an immediate threat’ to myself and others.

So during the course of these interviews, it must have been clear to Bluglass that I had been illegally admitted to and detained in Denbigh, that the ‘diagnoses’ being applied to me were inconsistent and didn’t stand up to scrutiny, that Jones was in cahoots with some corrupt local police officers, that my complaints and complaints of other patients were not being dealt with, that there were serious problems regarding Bryn Golau Ward and that the nurses witnessing all this were so horrified that they documented their feelings about it. Of course, with Bluglass being the leading forensic psychiatrist in the UK at the time, he will also have known about Mary Wynch’s legal case against Jones which had already gone before Lord Denning and was making legal history (please see blog post ‘The Mary Wynch Case – Making Legal History’).

So this must have been why Bluglass stated that since my referral to Dr T. Gwynne Williams (the retired lobotomist from Denbigh), I had become ‘increasingly and seriously irresponsible, often abnormally aggressive and hostile…obsessively preoccupied with…that way that [I had been] advised and managed…[making] unremitting efforts to obtain case notes and have them changed’. Yet he then went on to say that the information provided to the ward by Jones was ‘insufficient, limited or non-existent…quite clear that Dr Neil Davies agreed that there were no grounds to detaining [me]…concerned that [I] was not in hospital as a condition of bail…[there was] no obligation on the part of staff to transport her to the police…nurses did not feel that there was sufficient grounds to detain [her]…she was dealt with as though she was detained legally…concerned that Dr Jones…gave oral evidence…without having first examined [me]…then gave…once again…very little information to the ward when she was returned…notable lack of medical notes or details of any examination….Dr Jones’s explanation that he did not record notes because of the possibility of legal action was not good practice’. Bluglass stated that he was ‘concerned’ to hear from staff that friendships between patients on the ward were discouraged and ‘worried’ that the ward atmosphere was oppressive and that I was depressed’. However it wasn’t all bad – Bluglass went on to say that he that it wasn’t ‘unreasonable of Jones to have prescribed chlorpromazine with me in an ‘excitable state’’. (He’d just been told by the social worker that I was depressed – and he also knew that I was being held there illegally, but clearly Jones’s plans to render me senseless with a liquid cosh were fine…)

Bluglass then makes it clear who was the real villain in all this. He stated that I had ‘caused considerable annoyance and distress to many other people’. (A friend of mine knew someone who many years ago had tried to challenge some of the people involved in the child abuse ring in north Wales. When this person became disabled many years later, she was denied help from Gwynedd Social Services on the grounds that she had ‘upset people’.)  Bluglass remarked that I had ‘some justification’ for complaining about being detained in a locked ward and that he was ‘very concerned’ about my management, my transfer to police custody and the procedure by which I was detained. It was a of ‘considerable concern’ that Jones had given evidence without examining me and there was ‘further concern’ about the failure to properly inform the ward about me, the lack of medical records and case notes or information about further assessments. Bluglass was ‘very concerned’ about the time taken to respond to my complaints and how Jones had delayed his response despite constant reminders. He recommended that the response to complaints should be re-examined by the Health Authorities concerned in order that a more expeditious response could be obtained. (Thirty years later, the NHS in north Wales is still regularly slammed by the Public Services Ombudsman for not responding to complaints.)

Bluglass finishes the report by saying that he hopes that I will now feel reassured that matters ‘have been investigated’ and that where criticism can be sustained he has drawn attention to such matters and that Clwyd Health Authority will be addressing these. But he then gets onto the most important bit – that it is ‘quite unreasonable’ for me to behave in the way that I have and there are more appropriate ways of dealing with complaints and that ‘doctors and others are caring individuals’ but they cannot be expected to ‘absorb’ continual harassment without complaint. Bluglass ends by saying that he hopes that I will now accept this report as resolving my complaint. So I was unlawfully imprisoned, threatened constantly, assaulted, arrested for a crime that I had not committed and many very serious unsubstantiated allegations against me were documented as fact by these ‘caring individuals’ who then refused to answer any letters that I sent about these events – these letters being construed as ‘harassment’….

When I received this extraordinary report, Brown commented that Bluglass’s ability to write reports like this was probably why he was appointed to lead so many investigations into troubled psychiatric services. About ten years ago, I made contact with someone in England who’s son had become psychotic, had been sectioned and then murdered by another patient who was known to be violent. Observation was so poor in the institution concerned that the body of the young man who had been murdered had been partially eaten by the man who had murdered him. An investigation was held which the parents of the murdered man described as extremely distressing because they felt that throughout the investigation everything possible was done to discredit their son and absolve the institution concerned of blame. The investigation was led by a Professor Bluglass. The parents of the murdered man tried to ask further questions both regarding the murder of their son and the investigation, which they felt had been a complete whitewash. I was in contact with these people via a third party – they had gone into hiding because so many unpleasant things had begun happening to them.

After Bluglass wrote his report, I received a brief letter from a Mr D Griffiths ‘for General Manager, Clwyd Health Authority’ telling me that a copy of the report had been sent to Jones and Dr X and that the Authority’s Chief Administrative Medical Officer would be discussing the contents of the report with Jones. I tried to ask further questions and pointed out that my complaints about the aggressive and at one point assaultative behaviour by two members of staff at Denbigh had not been addressed. Within three weeks I had received an unsigned letter from Clwyd Health Authority refusing any further investigations and telling me that the file regarding my complaint was being closed. This letter was copied to Dr Dafydd Alun Jones, Dr Duncan Egdell and one Dr Peter Higson (who was by then the Acting Manager at Denbigh). No disciplinary action had been taken against anyone. The files recently released by my lawyers contain a letter written by Professor Owen after the Review, that warmly thanks Alun Davies for the ‘excellent’ way in which he organised the Review.

When my lawyers finally extracted my medical records through a Court Order in 2005, I found a number of references to Bluglass on my records that had been made some years after his investigation. In 1991 I was admitted to Springfield Hospital in London (I’ll be blogging about this soon) and a Dr Robin Jacobson had rung Dafydd Alun Jones for ‘information’ about me. He certainly got it – among many other things, Jones told Jacobson that he was ‘very angry’ with Bluglass’s criticisms but had maintained that Bluglass had stated ‘off the record’ that I had a ‘homicidal capacity’ and ‘will end up as a criminal psychopath in a special hospital’. In 1994, Jones had written a letter to Ian Rickard, a nurse manager at the Hergest Unit. In this letter, Jones stated that Bluglass had said that I ‘could/would end up in a ward for the criminally insane’ – Jones recalled it ‘as a chilling observation’. When I read all this in 2005, I wrote to Bluglass to ask him if he could explain these comments. Bluglass flatly denied making them – however Bluglass did tell me that Dr Jacobson had asked for a copy of his report but Bluglass had refused to supply him with one. I wrote back to Bluglass and received a letter from him stating that it was all a long time ago and that he really couldn’t remember much about it. (So Bluglass too suffers from the sort of sudden memory problems for which Dr Peter Higson is well-known!) I presume that either Jones was making up his own Gothic horror story, lying through his teeth, or Bluglass was. Or that they both were.

I have heard of two other people’s experiences of Bluglass. One of these people was a nurse who had worked in the clinic run by Bluglass in Birmingham, the Reaside Clinic, who told me that Bluglass was not a very nice man and that there were some very unpleasant things happening behind closed doors in the Reaside Clinic. Another person was someone who had adopted a daughter from Birmingham. This girl had been raped when she was six. By the age of 12 she was in a secure unit in the Reaside Clinic and drugged up with chlorpromazine on the grounds that she was ‘very disturbed’. I bet she was. I was told that Bluglass and his colleagues did all they could to oppose the adoption and the release of this 12 yr old from the ‘secure clinic’.

A few years ago I had a surprise. I discovered that Robert Bluglass had requested that his name be removed from the Medical Register. The usual reason for this is that a doctor is in very deep trouble and is jumping before he is pushed. At the same time nearly all references to Bluglass disappeared from the internet and he stood down from his academic posts. So I presume that something quite momentous had happened, but whatever it was has been kept very quiet. He hasn’t suffered too badly though. Not so long ago a friend told me about an art gallery in Warwickshire, ‘Compton Verney’, one of the finest art galleries in Europe. Compton Verney is so mind-blowing that I presumed that it was in public ownership, but my friend said ‘oh no, it’s a private owner’. I later found out that the owner of Compton Verney is none other than a Professor Robert Bluglass. So that’s what one does with one’s time when one’s career of excusing people who have wrecked other people’s lives or indeed even killed them comes to a brutal end….

My blog post ‘The Blog Post That Was Hacked Can Now Be Read’ describes how the various dreadful things happening to me at the hands of the mental health services seemed to be happening in parallel with the efforts of Alison Taylor to alert the authorities to the fact that a paedophile ring was operating across north Wales through Gwynedd Social Services and Clwyd Social Services. At the same time that Alison was approaching Thatcher’s Ministers with her allegations, I was writing to Thatcher’s Ministers with my allegations. In September 1989 I was told by Clwyd Health Authority in an unsigned letter that the file regarding my complaints had now been closed after Bluglass’s thorough and extensive investigation and that I would not be receiving a copy of my medical records. In September 1989 Alison Taylor was filmed for a Yorkshire TV programme about the paedophile ring in north Wales. This TV expose didn’t end up going anywhere – by February 1990 Yorkshire TV instead had turned their attention to a child abuse scandal in England.

Readers might be forgiven for imagining that after Robert Bluglass had been deployed to discredit me and deal with the difficulties in north Wales, the north Wales mental health services might have decided that the job had been completed. Sadly not….

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Sally Baker

I am a writer and a sociologist, originally from Somerset, but I’ve been based in Wales for most of my life. I had my first encounter with a mental health professional in 1984 at the age of 21. My GP described this man to my then partner – who also became a sociologist – as someone who had experienced ‘considerable success’. My meeting with this psychiatrist was a disaster and we attempted to complain about his insensitivity and highly inappropriate behaviour. That was the first time we were threatened and pressurised to withdraw a complaint against a mental health professional. This man is long dead – he was a retired psychiatrist from the North Wales Hospital Denbigh, T. Gwynne Williams, who was working shifts in the student health centre at University College of North Wales (now Bangor University). We discovered years later that this ‘successful man’ was notorious – he had been an enthusiastic lobotomist…

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