I haven’t had time to do a news review recently, but over the past few days a few things have occurred which are worth noting here.
Earlier in the week Southern General NHS Trust pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety law after a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive – sentencing is due on the 12 October. The prosecution followed the death in 2013 of 18 yr old Connor Sparrowhawk who had epilepsy and learning disabilities – he drowned in the bath whilst in the ‘care’ of Southern at a ‘specialist’ unit.
This case was only ever investigated because of the remarkable tenacity of Connor’s mum, Dr Sara Ryan. Not only was Sara Connor’s mum and for most of his life his carer, but she’s an Oxford University sociologist who’s research interests include learning disability. So Sara is a pretty competent person and one would have thought that her opinion counted for something. No. Sara was roundly insulted and abused by Southern and attempts were made to smear her and even to accuse her of failing to care for Connor properly. Sara was described as ‘toxic’ by the negligent fuckwit of the psychiatrist who was responsible for Connor’s ‘care’, she received anonymous abusive telephone calls from a member of Southern staff and the son of one of the Southern Board members read a confidential report into Connor’s death and sent out a tweet calling Sara a ‘fucking pest’. Southern lied, denied and mislead constantly and when the story became public they tripped over themselves to speak to the media but still failed to communicate with Sara.
Just before the HSE prosecution, the GMC held a fitness to practice hearing concerning Connor’s psychiatrist. Sara was a witness and was cross-examined and insulted all over again. You’ve guessed it – the psychiatrist was allowed to continue practicing.
As if all this wasn’t bad enough, as a result of campaigning to discover the truth about Connor’s death – which was certainly not made easy for Sara – Sara discovered that there had been 722 unexplained deaths of learning disabled or mentally ill people in the ‘care’ of Southern. Only 272 of those deaths were even investigated. Southern’s CEO throughout all this was Katrina Percy, the Martin Jones of England – an incompetent bully who boasted of the achievements of her organisation whilst hundreds of people died. Sara was assisted in her campaign by the able Dr George Julian, another social scientist, who did a fantastic job on the research and dissemination front. Together they uncovered the mountain of shite that was Southern and NHS England.
Other patients and relatives of those whose lives had been wrecked by Southern came forward and finally Katrina Percy was forced to resign. However Sara then discovered that Percy had been moved sideways into a new role created especially for her in the NHS at her old enormous salary (which was exactly what happened to Martin when the disastrous North West Wales NHS Trust that he ‘led’ was abolished). Furore broke out. Finally the dreadful Katrina did actually go and eventually the Trust Board collapsed. Every one of them resigned and an interim management arrangement was made.
Sara has stressed throughout that all she ever wanted was for no-one else to die so unnecessarily ever again. Sara, George and their colleagues have moved mountains, but there are layers and layers of Katrinas and Martins in the NHS and they are far from being dealt with. Somebody should have been imprisoned at Southern, just as somebody should be imprisoned in north Wales. Hundreds and hundreds of deaths in both regions, all a result of crass stupidity and complete negligence. I fear that the ordeal for Southern patients is far from over. It has been announced that a new CEO, Dr Nick Broughton, is due to take up the appointment in November. Nick Broughton is the leader of Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. I have friends in Somerset and all is far from well in the NHS down there…
Sara has kept a blog for the last few years entitled ‘My Daft Life’. The full story – as well as many interesting thoughts and insights of Sara’s – is recorded there. It’s worth reading the comments in response to Sara’s posts as well – time and again the relatives of learning disabled people who had been scandalously neglected at the hands of the welfare state wrote in. The stories were depressingly familiar – in the face of harm to patients occurring a flat denial from everyone involved followed, then aggression and abuse towards complainants and carers, then attempts to blame the patients’ relatives/carers and in some cases the use of the Mental Health Act or Mental Capacity Act to remove the patient from the influence of the people who had complained. One lady, Shirley Buckley, is in her 80s and has been banned by the Courts from contacting her own son with learning disabilities, who is now living in a ‘unit’ in south Wales against both his and Shirley’s wishes. Shirley has been threatened with imprisonment for contempt of Court if she contacts her son. The event that precipitated the authorities obtaining a Court order against Shirley? She expressed concerns that her son was being neglected and possibly abused in a previous ‘care setting’. I have given Shirley’s name here because Shirley has gone public about what has happened to her and her son – she was one of the first people to write to me when I began this blog.
At times staff from Southern also commented on Sara’s blog – anonymously of course, they all lived in fear – stating that the general public would never believe the madness that had prevailed at Southern under Katrina Percy.
So we now await the sentencing of Southern – after getting on for a thousand people died whilst Katrina raked in nearly 200k pa and was named as ‘CEO of the Year’ by HSJ (Health Services Journal)….
The Daily Post has been reporting on the inquest of seven year old Katie Pierce. Katie died as a result of complications arising from the severe brain damage that she suffered when she was a few months old. As a baby she was taken to Wrexham Maelor where she was diagnosed with ‘viral tonsillitis’. Katie was sent home but her parents returned with her the next day. She actually had meningitis – it was too late to prevent brain damage.
The inquest has concentrated on Katie’s care at Wrexham Maelor when she was misdiagnosed. Dr Sarah Piper was the registrar on duty in 2006 who supervised the junior doctor who misdiagnosed Katie. Dr Piper maintains that she does not remember being asked for a second opinion. The junior doctor, Dr Halenahalli Vijayakumar, stated that he did consult Dr Piper. No-one can produce any evidence that he did or that he did not. Furthermore Katie’s parents maintain that Dr Vijayakumar examined Katie whilst she was asleep – Dr Vijayakumar maintains that he would never have done this.
So someone is telling porkies.
The Daily Post also recently ran an article about Rhyl Councillors summoning the Chief Constable of North Wales Mark Polin before them to demand answers to the havoc that has prevailed in Rhyl over the last few months in terms of street disorder and robbery, thefts and burglaries, drug taking, drug dealing and the violent assaults and murders that have taken place as a consequence of the turf wars between drug dealers. Cllr Chamberlain Jones told Mr Polin that ‘you are failing miserably’ and that residents felt ‘unsafe’ in their own homes.
So imagine my surprise when this morning the Post ran a feature on an awards ceremony held by the North Wales Police regarding North Wales Police Problem Orientated Partnership Awards. First prize went to Ty Golau, a project in Rhyl which ‘tackles anti-social behaviour and street drinking’ with agencies including substance misuse services, probation, housing, GPs surgeries and the police ‘working together’, following a ‘significant increase’ in reports of violence, street drinking, theft, shoplifting, disorderly behaviour, begging and drugs and alcohol related anti-social behaviour in Rhyl. The police maintain that they have ‘identified problems and shared information with partners from Denbighshire County Council and Clwyd Alun Housing Association’ and that over the last year, the number of anti-social behaviour complaints has dramatically reduced within Rhyl.
Which does not seem consistent with the state of despair exhibited by the Rhyl Councillors and residents. So why are the police giving themselves a prize? Here’s a clue:
The police remarked that in Rhyl ‘eleven known street beggars and rough sleepers were regularly causing a nuisance’, but there are now no rough sleepers or beggars in the town centre. OK, so a small group of destitute people have been kicked out of the town centre – so like the homeless folk in Wrexham they’ll now be dossing down somewhere on the outskirts of the town – but the gangsters dealing in drugs are still maiming and murdering each other and terrifying the residents of Rhyl.
Second prize went to the Youth Engagement project in Caernarfon. Following an increase in criminal damage, arson and physical assaults, the police held a meeting with the Army based in the town and activities were provided for youths. Stephen Gallagher, the dishonest and aggressive nurse at Ysbyty Gwynedd A&E who sends patients off into the night without treatment to their deaths, is a leading light in the Territorial Army. He lives – or did live – in Caernarfon.
Other finalists included the modern slavery project in Llandudno. Prestwood People Trafficking Ltd was based in Llandudno. When the trafficked mental health patients ran away they were returned by the police with no questions asked about how they had sustained serious injuries. Another finalist was Wrexham ‘Burning Your Future’ campaign – goodness knows what that was all about, but like the prize winning Rhyl, Wrexham is a town dogged by destitute people and people using and dealing in drugs.
Chief Constable Polin commented that ‘a huge amount of fantastic work’ was going on which was ‘really making a difference in keeping communities safe’.
CAIS and Dafydd continue to receive millions from the Welsh Gov’t for providing ‘services’ for substance abuses, people with alcohol problems and the homeless.
The Mail Online today reports that the CQC have finally admitted to the dire state of the nation’s care homes and that they are ‘probing four failures every day’. Which they should have been doing years ago rather than ignoring reports of serious neglect and standing back whilst elderly people died.
BBC News Wales tells us that Sarah Rochira, the Older Persons Commissioner, believes that data regarding the prescribing of anti-psychotic medication in care homes should be collected to monitor inappropriate prescribing. Sarah refers to the ‘range of evidence published in recent years’ suggesting that elderly people with dementia are being dosed up. The Alzheimers Society told the Assembly’s Health Committee Inquiry that the Welsh Gov’t should start audits of anti-psychotic prescriptions in care homes to patients with dementia.
I don’t know why it has taken Sarah et al so long to wake up to this. Everybody has known for decades that this was going on – GPs across the UK obediently dosed elderly people up when they knew perfectly well that they weren’t psychotic on the grounds of ‘ooh it’ll calm her down’, their fellow GPs watched this silently even if they didn’t do it themselves, health visitors went in and out of those homes and witnessed large numbers of people dosed up, when elderly people were admitted to hospital from those homes their ‘medication’ list accompanied them with ‘melleril’ written upon it, when they were discharged from hospital back into the care home more melleril accompanied them, it really was not a world secret. This was so well-known that back in the 80s when Fay Weldon wrote her book ‘The Lives and Loves of a She-Devil’ she included in the plot an appalling home for the elderly in which they were all dosed up and a visiting GP knew that none of them should have been prescribed the drugs but took the view that the home was so bad that the elderly were probably best off dosed up into a comatose state so that they remained unaware of their surroundings.
It was reported by BBC News Wales that the paediatric service in Hywel Dda Health Board is ‘close to collapse’. Evidence suggests that it has collapsed. It was revealed that mid and west Wales NHS is unable to recruit paediatricians. An advert for consultant paediatricians at Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth last year attracted no applicants and Withybush Hospital and Glangwili Hospital Carmarthen are currently advertising for six full-time paediatric consultants with little success. The paediatric care unit at Withybush reduced its opening hours last year due to a staff shortage.
A Dr Vas Falco who was a consultant paediatrician in Pembrokeshire for 22 years who retired early told the BBC that he ‘stood with thousands of people to keep the special care baby unit, obstetrics and 24 hour paediatric care at Withybush’ but that their fight was ‘unsuccessful’. Which was just as well because there weren’t any doctors to staff any of those services so it would be highly irresponsible to have retained them – but no-one admitted that to the angry crowd who were encouraged by Top Doctors and local politicians to gather outside the Senedd and wave placards.
Dr Falco commented that the job has become more ‘manager driven’ and that ‘in the past everyone at a senior level would contribute and take responsibility’ but later ‘decisions were made more by single people and small groups rather than the whole spectrum of senior doctors’.
I would never seek to defend the current cadre of NHS managers and I have every sympathy for the Top Doctors who do know what they are doing and try to do the best for their patients when they are issued with foolish diktats from the likes of Martin Jones. However, Dr Falco is ignoring a key point. That is, in regions with poor quality medical services, cartels of Top Doctors operated together to conceal rogue practitioners and unsafe services – everyone at senior level did indeed ‘contribute’ but no-one at all ‘took responsibility’.
Thus I had scores of Top Doctors expressing outrage at my complaints against Dafydd et al – they all agreed that I was ‘dangerous’, ‘deluded’ and ‘had to be stopped’. Particularly as I maintained that Dafydd was having sex with patients and breaking the law. Which he was. And the whole bloody lot of them knew it. Dafydd had even written medical records and made comments to other Top Doctors which made it quite clear what he was doing. This was the reality of Dr Falco’s ‘whole spectrum of senior doctors’ taking decisions. They were all in it together.
The mother of a little boy in need of paediatric services in west Wales, Miranda Trier, told the BBC that going to see her GP is ‘quicker’ than getting a response from the team at Withybush. Miranda is considering moving out of Wales ‘closer to decent health services’. It’s not just Wales Miranda – swathes of England have shite services too but no-one’s fessing up to it. Phil Kloer, the Executive Medical Director at Hywel Dda, stated that the ‘service’ is ‘stretched but improving’. That’s not what Miranda is saying – she commented that when her little boy was born the service was better than at present…
As with the care homes, this problem is not new – it’s been brewing away for years and as with the NHS in north Wales everyone remained in deep denial. Historically, west Wales children’s services had a problem with a paedophile gang. It was the children’s/mental health services in Pembrokeshire that in the 1980s ensured that two teenaged girls were banged up in Broadmoor for decades ostensibly because they refused to talk. When the dreadful Keith Thomson resigned from the North West Wales NHS Trust he lay low for a few months – and popped up again as a senior NHS manager in Pembrokeshire. Then when he was obliged to step down from that role, he remained as an ‘advisor’. Is anyone surprised that there has not been a happy ending? The Welsh NHS underwent a huge reorganisation some years ago and the new authorities were all given romantic names after figures from Welsh history but as the same old crooks were re-employed in the new bodies, things just got even worse.
The Daily Post reported that there has been a protest outside the offices of the Local Health Board about the lack of GPs in Wrexham. Another problem that has been a long time coming. But what did GPs in Wrexham do in the halcyon days before the crisis in Top Doctors morale and Eamonn Jessup and the BMA’s co-ordinated attempts to cause havoc? They ignored the paedophile ring that operated in the area. One boy who sustained anal injuries whilst living a children’s home was taken to a local GP who confirmed that he had ‘piles’. Other boys who turned up at GPs surgeries with broken bones and other injuries were sent back to places like Bryn Estyn with no questions asked, sometimes untreated. And GPs ‘referred’ complaining patients to Dafydd and sectioned patients in Denbigh knowing exactly what was going to happen to the patients there. When the GPs or relatives of the GPs themselves fell ill, they were not referred to Dafydd or Denbigh.
BBC News Wales has reported that a review by the Wales Governance Centre and Wales Public Services 2025 has stated that the Welsh NHS is gobbling up so much public funding that within four years there will be no money for other services such as leisure centres or libraries. Mark Drakeford the Finance Minister does not have a solution. When Mark Drakeford was Health Minister he was famous for saying that the way to resolve the problems in the NHS was to ‘sit around the table and talk to the unions’. Which he did. The BMA and RCN really loved old Drakeford – he rolled over every time that they threatened to scream and scream until they were sick. Now their ever hungry jaws are back for more dosh. If a top class NHS was in evidence, there would at least be a case for giving them so much, but instead most areas in Wales are fessing up to a crisis in every part of the NHS, scandals continue to emerge on a near daily basis and citizens have been protesting or beating a path to the doors of lawyers or the Ombudsman.
It wasn’t a good idea to let the Top Doctors tell you what to do Mark. You’ve no more money to give them now and they’re going to come after you…
All media outlets across the UK are running numerous reports about how shocking it is that universities and schools don’t know how to look after students/pupils with mental health problems and that the staff need ‘training’. Whilst I have seen a few examples of lecturers and teachers showing a startling degree of fuckwittedness when faced with students/pupils who have developed serious mental health problems, to be fair, many staff in such positions are very supportive. The problem is not with the universities and schools – the problem is with a psychiatric system that simply will not care for people who are in need of help, even when their illness is life-threatening. University lecturers and teachers are not supposed to be running a mental health service, they are running research and teaching establishments. If they are now going to be told that it is their responsibility to look after people with mental health problems and indeed are going to be required to undertake ‘training’ in this, I suggest that the mental health services are shut down and the considerable resources that they are consuming are re-invested into universities and schools. By the way, your average lecturer or teacher is paid between 30 and 40 k once they’re fully qualified and have a few years of experience behind them. A psychiatrist in that position will be trousering about 70k. Even a really shite one. To hit the 90k basic or so that every consultant psychiatrist gets, one has to be a head of a sizeable school or a professor who’s considered pretty good in their field.
The mental health services are so dismally bad – indeed lethal – that I think an argument could certainly be made for taking the remit for caring for the mentally ill away from them. If it is to be given to other parts of society let’s stop paying mental health professionals to blame people for their own distress.
During the mental health debates I note that the plight of the seriously ill is still going unspoken – they’re dying on the streets, in prison or in secure units. There is much discussion about whether today’s students are simply ‘snowflakes’ or whether there is an epidemic of depression, loneliness and anxiety in society. Sir Anthony Seldon was wheeled out on the Today programme this morning to tell us all that people suffering from loneliness can gain great benefit from an animal because animals effect one’s spirits. I’m not sure why we needed Blair’s biographer/the former head of Wellington School/one of those involved with the New College of Humanities to tell us that elderly widows often have cats for company. But the Today programme also featured an equally odd interview with Martin Amis who told Justin Webb that Jeremy Corbyn is unfit to be PM because he achieved very poor A levels and made no effort to improve them. Justin Webb started laughing and said ‘shouldn’t we move on from that’, whereupon Amis responded ‘I will not move on from that’. Martin Amis is best known for being the son of the misogynistic old git Kingsley who always undermined Martin. When Martin was young he had sex with a great many famous women most of whom subsequently denounced him as a total bastard. What I think is truly shocking Martin is that your old dad for all his pompousing was a lecturer at Swansea and made no effort to improve. By the way I did quite well in my A levels. Should I stand for election?
If Jeremy’s dad had been a businessman I presume that Martin would refuse to speak to him on the grounds that they were in trade.
I’m glad to say that MIND Cymru haven’t missed out on the action. Their director Sara Moseley was featured on BBC News Wales saying that OCD jokes ‘stop patients getting help’ ‘because of the stigma’. Sara has called for GPs to ‘receive training in mental health’. Yes, really – obviously a medical degree including a stint in psychiatry isn’t enough. Like school teachers and university lecturers, GPs need Training. Perhaps MIND could provide it. Many years ago I attended Training Provided By MIND and what a fucking joke it was. It consisted mostly of an ‘ice breaker’, then ‘role play’, during which the ‘trainer’ – someone with an MA in Wimmin’s Studies – yelled out ‘wow that’s BRILLIANT’ every five minutes. In fact it was so bad that I don’t want to think about it.
Interestingly enough, the BBC online feature on OCD inspired by Sara stated categorically that ‘OCD is genetic’. REALLY???? Since when was that demonstrated beyond all doubt? The BBC helpfully provided a little diagram of what they imagine a strand of DNA looks like. It didn’t come up to Crick and Watson’s original model, but who cares, nothing else about the article was accurate.
A psychology lecturer from Cardiff University helpfully told us that ‘our emphasis is on understanding the brain and the more we understand the networks in the brain that give rise to these thoughts, the more chances we have of developing the cure perhaps’.
‘Perhaps’ being the salient word among all this talk of training and genes and networks.
The main reason why so many people suffer with OCD is that it is very difficult to get access to treatment – although good old CBT is highly effective for OCD. Help for OCD on the NHS is pretty much non-existent in north Wales. I knew someone whose OCD – combined with agoraphobia – was so severe that she had been confined to one room in her house for more than a year. Her daughters had made contact with the GP who then referred her to the Arfon Community Mental Health Team. They sent her an appointment to come and see them in Bangor. She rang and explained that she hadn’t left her room for more than a year, let alone left the house. She was told that if she couldn’t get on a bus and go to Bangor they couldn’t help her. She stayed in her room and her family secured the help of someone who knew how to treat OCD and went out to see this lady, who then made a slow but complete recovery.
Sara Moseley’s brother Simon works as a clinical psychologist for the NHS in north Wales. He is a colleague of those who refused to help the lady with OCD because she was unable to leave her room. I have been told that Sara is a personal friend of a member of the Betsi Board – which employs the staff of the Arfon Community Mental Health Team.