News Round-Up, April 13 2017

The blog has also recently covered the sorry state of perinatal mental healthcare for women (see posts ‘The Sad Story of the Heidi Humphreys Unit’ and ‘Articulate Middle-Class Woman’ ‘Intimidated’ Healthcare Professionals’). It now seems that another middle-class woman – an expert of the ‘Antiques Roadshow’ – has been killed by the public services after suffering postpartum psychosis. Alice Gibson-Watt died days after being ‘restrained’ after she developed ‘delusions so severe’ that she believed that her baby was telepathically communicating with her. There are a number of inconsistencies in the story as there tends to be when a mental health patient has been killed by those who ‘help’. The police officer who ‘restrained’ Alice – she was pinned down by police and strapped down to a stretcher by paramedics – has given a lurid account of Alice screaming and thrashing around. Well she was probably terrified. It was reported that Alice had tried to bite them – well you’d fucking well tied her up hadn’t you, what else could she do, even symbolically? Yet another witness account describes Alice as having had an ‘anxiety attack’ because she feared that the baby had died. After being tied up and terrorised, Alice was taken to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital where a psychic psychiatrist noted that her conversation seemed normal, but guess what, they knew that there was a psychosis underneath! Now it is incredibly common for new mothers to fear that their baby has died – they are charged with keeping this little creature that they don’t yet know very well alive and babies do weird things like holding their breath, making snuffling noises and turning odd colours. Nearly all new mothers, at some point, have a fleeting fear that the baby has died. Alice’s mistake was to panic too loudly about this. It is also very common for people to believe that they are so in touch with the feelings of someone close to them that they are telepathic. If such an idea is expressed by a mother whom a healthcare worker encounters who has not been labelled psychotic, it is usually taken to be a sign of ‘bonding’. Days after Alice was tied up and carted off to the Chelsea and Westminster, she was found to have a torn liver, which subsequently killed her. Those involved in the ‘restraint’ all maintain that they did nothing at all that could have possibly caused this. The psychic psychiatrist suggested that someone psychotic could have injured themselves and not felt any pain! (Presumably in the same way that black people were believed to be biologically suited to slavery in a way that white people weren’t a few hundred years ago…) So we have a possible scenario of a new mum having a panic attack being assaulted by either a police officer or paramedics so seriously that she sustained a torn liver. As the inquest continues we will no doubt hear a lot more about Alice’s ‘violence’ and superhuman strength as she fought tigress-like – well that liver has got to be explained away somehow…

A recent post on the blog described how babies are dying because midwives frequently are not taught how to read foetal heart monitors – see post ‘News From The Betsi’. Yesterday Jeremy Hunt announced an investigation into Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust after a spate of deaths of babies – because staff didn’t know how to read the foetal heart monitors. The Trust has defended itself by maintaining that their track record regarding this is no worse than other Trusts – which is probably true, this has been a substantial problem for years and as with other circumstances causing patients to regularly die when they shouldn’t it has all been concealed.

Dear old MIND are doing one of their regular impersonations of an organisation concerned about the welfare of people with mental health problems. They have produced a report maintaining that people discharged from psychiatric units are not receiving appropriate follow-up care, which is increasing their risk of suicide. The usual suspects have all climbed on board, Prof Louis Appleby, Norman Lamb, the Care Quality Commission and ‘an opposition spokesperson’. All these people – and MIND itself – have been fully aware of this problem for years. They are also all fully aware that patients, whilst they are in psychiatric units, are sometimes assaulted by staff, wrongly diagnosed, forcibly given medication which sometimes kills them, ‘restrained’ in such a way that they choke to death, or are tasered by the police. Even if they avoid these more extreme hazards, their lives are frequently destroyed by the time that they have left hospital. They have often lost tenancies and are therefore homeless, usually no-one has managed to deal with their finances whilst they are in hospital – remember, if they are sectioned it is very likely that they will not be allowed out to deal with such matters – so they have built up debts and they are pretty much unemployable, because no-one going to employ someone who’s been sectioned or has been in hospital for several months (and it’s not necessarily to do with ‘stigma’, it is simply that employers fear that if the person concerned is that fragile then they won’t be fit for work). We do not hear about any of this from MIND – and it is for these reasons that people tend to kill themselves when they leave hospital. Interestingly enough, after the dreadful Dr Raj Sambhi sectioned me in the Heddfan Unit for the best part of a year on the grounds that I was ‘severely mentally ill’ because I was maintaining that there was neglect and abuse in the north Wales mental health services and that a paedophile ring had operated in the area, when I was finally released – and I had to find my own accommodation as well, but unlike a lot of other patients I had a network of well-heeled middle class friends to help me – I was visited by a vey nice CPN. After obtaining my medical records relating to this recently, I discovered that this CPN had documented that my risk of suicide was ‘high’ because I had realised what ‘I’d lost’ as a result of my very serious illness. Of course, as I have now revealed on this blog, I have been conducting my ethnographic study of the UK mental health services for quite some time now – and had I not been a sociologist preparing for publication but the person that Raj Sambhi et al assumed that I was, yes I’d say it was highly likely that I would have killed myself – because Sambhi had made every effort possible  to completely destroy my life. Indeed, Professor Catherine Robinson et al of Bangor University’s ‘Centre for Mental Health and Society’ thought that he had – which might be why they co-authored with him…

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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