Failings In Care – But Another Narrative Verdict

The media have reported that a narrative verdict has been returned by John Gittins, the coroner who carried out the inquest on Sgt Lee Johnson who hung himself whilst a patient at the Heddfan Unit, Wrexham Maelor. Yet another narrative verdict in the face of what everyone acknowledges was the suicide of someone who was in the care of the Betsi mental health services. If anyone ever did have any doubts about what has been going on in north Wales, this case makes it crystal clear – inquest verdicts are being manipulated to conceal the size of the problem that is the mental health services in north Wales. It is only two years since Danielle Robinson hung herself in the Heddfan Unit. We were told then that ‘lessons had been learned’ – they haven’t. Anyone familiar with the physical layout of the Heddfan Unit will know how easy it is for staff to check on patients, the building has been designed for that. So how are people managing to hang themselves? Hanging is not a quick or easy method of killing oneself – and a key element of health and safety requirements of mental health units is the identification and removal of ligature points.

Another factor was introduced into the explanation for the death of Sgt Johnson – he had been drinking whilst in the Heddfan Unit and it was known that drink made him suicidal, but staff commented that he was reluctant to discuss this. I noted in my previous post ‘It’s Yet Another Inquest Into Yet Another Death’ that the standard response of the mental health services in north Wales to people with drink problems is to refuse to treat them and refer them to CAIS, a charity shot through with failure and dodgy practice. So that will probably have been why Sgt Johnson was reluctant to discuss this – Sgt Johnson and his wife were/are police officers and Sgt Johnson’s wife mentioned in the inquest that they had previously had dealings with Heddfan professionally. So they will have known about the attitude towards patients with drink problems (it is the police who are called upon to throw the patients with alcohol problems out of the hospitals). I also mentioned in my previous post that the acute mental health units run by the Betsi actually breathalyse patients and searches their rooms if they are suspected of drinking. Unbelievably, John Gittins commented at the inquest that this policy is effective but needs to be made more robust. No this policy is almost certainly what led to Sgt Johnson’s death – the policy on alcohol is so rigid and draconian that people with alcohol problems feel unable to discuss this and resort to sneaking in alcohol if their problem is that bad. The Betsi are carrying out their own version of Prohibition – it didn’t work in the U.S. in the 1920s and it’s not working in north Wales now. The only choice that people with alcohol problems have is to knock on the door of CAIS, an organisation with some of the sleaziest people in north Wales on it’s Board, including a number who concealed a paedophile gang (please see post ‘The Evolution Of A Drugs Baron?’) But wasn’t it concluded that Prohibition failed because it pushed the alcohol trade into the embrace of gangsters?

I notice that once more Dr Stuart Porter, the man who was memorably described to me as sporting a pair of ‘wanker’s glasses’ by a less than impressed patient – who was refused treatment by Porter et al although he was seriously depressed – has been wheeled out as the public face of the Betsi and was referred to as the ‘interim clinical director’. Porter’s previous stomping ground was the Ablett Unit – the Unit that released a patient with no aftercare maintaining that he was ‘feigning illness in order to secure accommodation’. That patient was actually seriously ill and went on to decapitate someone (please see post ‘Homicide Committed By Patient At Ablett Unit’). It was of course the Ablett Unit that hosted the infamous Tawel Fan ward, where elderly mentally ill patients were left to crawl around naked on a floor covered in urine and faeces whilst  nurses swore at them and discussed their sex lives. One of those patients was found to have an untreated broken arm. It was Tawel Fan that led to the Betsi being placed in special measures. So with Porter and his glasses at the helm it’s obvious that the mental health services are heading for the stars…

There is however a long and glorious history of people in the public domain colluding with the appalling mental health services in north Wales. I was reading parts of the Waterhouse Report yesterday in preparation for a future post and I was gobsmacked to read that Rob Evans, the senior manager of Gwynedd Social Services responsible for mental health services, had given evidence to the Waterhouse Inquiry and described the community mental health services as among the best in Europe. He was talking about the Arfon Community Mental Health Team there. Who perjured themselves in order to obtain High Court injunctions against people who complained about them, who perjured themselves again in order to try and have those people imprisoned for breaking the injunctions, who assaulted patients in the team’s office in Bangor and who threatened to assault patients in their own homes. The Arfon Team had done all these things by the time that Evans made that comment to the inquiry and what’s more Evans knew it. Furthermore, not long before Evans was called to give that evidence, he had been responsible for investigating a complaint of mine regarding the constant harassment and aggression that I was receiving from the Arfon Team. The complaint remained unresolved and the aggro towards me from the Arfon Team continued. I now have documents in my possession written by Rob Evans regarding my complaint. He had asked Keith Fearns, the psychopath who was the ‘leader’ of the Arfon Team, ‘what he wanted done’ with me. Fearns had replied ‘lock her up’. Evans had told Fearns that wasn’t possible. Fearns had repeated ‘lock her up’. Evans noted that the situation was unresolvable and that he was leaving his post imminently so he did not intend to pursue this matter further. The best in Europe? Before Evans had been appointed Director of Mental Health, he had been involved in child care. When Evans met me to hold a futile discussion regarding the problem that was Fearns and his gang of thugs, Evans kept stressing that ‘social work practice’ changes with time and what was acceptable at one point may not be acceptable in the future (what relevance this had to social workers lying in court and assaulting their clients I do not know). As an example Evans said that when he used to place children in children’s homes he used to take away their shoes to stop them running away ‘but you’re not allowed to do that now’. When the former residents of the north Wales children’s homes gave evidence at the trials of the men who had sexually abused them, one of them stated that he had tried to run away after being sexually molested. So someone took his shoes away to stop him. I think at the very least, Rob Evans should now be prosecuted for lying to the Waterhouse Inquiry. (Another thing that I remember Rob saying to me was that some children hated him for placing them in the children’s homes but he knew that he’d done the right thing because their parents ‘should look after their kids properly’. Rob thought that they weren’t doing this so he handed their kids over to a paedophile gang. Nice work Rob.) The Waterhouse Report also mentions that Rob Evans’s employment prospects were limited and that he wasn’t a Welsh speaker. So what did Rob do when he stopped being Director of Mental Health for Gwynedd? He became Director of Community Services for Anglesey! The last time that I saw the dreadful Rob he accused me of ‘arrassin’ him because I dared question him about the documents that he compiled about me after he met Fearns in the wake of my complaint. So I ‘arrased him. Well he handed fresh meat over to a fucking paedophile ring.

Rob was not alone in believing that an abusive service imprisoning it’s clients and driving them to suicide was leading the field on a European level. As the closure of the North Wales Hospital Denbigh loomed, Dr Dafydd Alun Jones made regular appearances in the local media and was described as ‘Europe’s leading forensic psychiatrist’. He wasn’t even a forensic psychiatrist. But he was banging up people who had complained about the abuse in the children’s services and mental health services.

What was it about the paedophile’s friends that made them obsessed with their status as Europe’s leading? Couldn’t they have just gone for gold and announced themselves as global leaders? Or were there better facilitators of a paedophile gang somewhere on another continent?

 

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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