News Round Up, April 30 2017

I’m back from my break so the blog is back in action. Many thanks to the readers who sent me information and stories whilst I was away – I’ve got a stack of posts in the pipeline, although it may take me a week or so to catch up with everything. I also have many other leads which will take a bit of background research…

I have been sent a number of links to a story involving a surgeon at Harefield who is currently on trial for the rape and sexual assault of colleagues. There are familiar themes in this story – his offensive behaviour was well-known, women avoided being alone with him, no-one had the guts to formally notify the relevant authorities until one brave woman spoke up only to find huge pressure put on her to go away and shut up, with comments like ‘he does that to everyone’ being made. Of course he’ll have been doing it to everyone, he knew that no-one was going to confront him…

My attention was also drawn to a huge fire at the Christie Cancer Research Unit in Manchester, run by Cancer Research UK. The reader who sent me this story quipped that there may well have been an awful lot of documents thrown into the inferno in the light of my recent posts regarding cancer research, naming a few people who are now very big names in Cancer Research UK. Whilst on the subject of cancer research, I did hear on the radio that there is now an admission that the Cancer Drugs Fund that has operated in NHS England has been a complete waste of money and an ‘ill thought out’ piece of policy. A man called Richard Sullivan appeared on the Today programme fessing up to all this, but stated that he didn’t want to ‘name names’ regarding the people who had lobbied so vigorously for the Cancer Drugs Fund. Well he should name names – anyone who has ever been involved with biomedical research knew that the Cancer Drugs Fund was a con, a number of powerful drug companies knew that they could pressurise weak and unscrupulous politicians to lobby the Westminster Government to fund drugs that were hugely expensive and had very little proven benefit. Everyone involved knew this – the people who didn’t know it were the patients dying of cancer, frightened, vulnerable and desperate, who believed that they would gain a few further months of life. But a few pics of them in the Daily Mail accusing the Government of ‘condemning them to death’ did wonders for the implementation of that policy. Readers will know that I have been very, very critical of Carwyn for ignoring the genocide of mental health patients in north Wales, but to be fair to Carwyn he has been spot-on in refusing to implement the Cancer Drugs Fund in Wales. He repeatedly stated that there was no evidence for it and was roundly abused by everyone. ‘Team Irfon’ from north Wales were particularly vociferous in painting Carwyn as an Utter Bastard. For the uninitiated, ‘Team Irfon’ are the group of people supporting Irfon Williams from the Bangor area who has terminal cancer and were robustly pressing for the Cancer Drugs Fund to be introduced to Wales. At one point Irfon announced himself ‘cured’ and ‘free of all tumours’ after receiving a miracle drug from England – Carwyn commented that it all seemed rather odd. Well it was, it transpired that Irfon wasn’t cured at all, his tumours were rediscovered within weeks and it has now been admitted that Irfon is dying. I would be interested to know who was Irfon’s source of information – Irfon was described as an ‘NHS manager’ in the press. He is actually a mental health professional from north Wales who’s friends and family have mobilised the sort of support for him at a time of crisis that his own patients certainly never enjoyed. Irfon is a relatively young man with small children, so I can understand that he will have grasped at any glimmers of hope – but someone was telling him porkies and was very obviously using him in a political campaign… Would anyone now like to admit that where the Cancer Drugs Fund was concerned Carwyn was right – and apologise for all those damning headlines suggesting that he was singlehandedly responsible for the deaths of cancer patients in Wales? I seem to remember that the Tories were having a field day with such allegations…

There was also an appearance on the Today programme by Richard Torbett, a PR man from ABPI (Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry), announcing that unless the NHS receives many more billions in funding, pharmaceutical companies and those involved in the ‘life sciences’ industry, would pull out of the UK, precipitating disaster. This was presented as yet another ‘warning’ to the UK Gov’t along the lines of ‘ooh they’ve ignored the Top Doctors, but the ABPI are saying exactly the same thing’. The Today programme should have actually pointed out that the ABPI and the Top Doctors are pretty much the same people – the ABPI Board, the advisory committees of the ABPI and it’s associated companies are choc full of Top Doctors, the Top Doctors are leading the research teams supplying the data to the ABPI and the Top Doctors then prescribe the drugs produced by the ABPI. The whole process tends to be about careers and money rather than developing interventions for the greater good of humanity (please see previous posts). It was mentioned on the Today programme that the products of the ABPI were ‘reviewed’ by NICE, just to reassure us all that there’s nothing dodgy going on. This would be the NICE that has been rash enough to appoint one Professor Jo Rycroft-Malone to Chair one of it’s most influential committees. Enough said. (New visitors to the blog can read all about Jo in previous posts, such as ‘An Expert On The Betsi Board!’)

A number of other stories regarding the NHS In Crisis also appeared whilst I was away. The UK Govt’s Public Accounts Committee have heard evidence that patients in England are struggling to obtain GP appointments because practices are shutting during ‘core’ hours (‘core’ hours being NHS speak for ‘the normal working day’). A report from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health stated that children’s hospital units are closing to new patients because of staff shortages. Well, the NHS is a grossly dysfunctional organisation riddled with bullying and corruption and people who’ve gone into medicine for the right reasons are increasingly feeling that they just can’t stomach much of what is going on…

A truly splendid story appeared on BBC New Wales – my old friends MIND Cymru and it’s Director Sara Moseley alerted us all to ‘struggling emergency service workers’ who are now going to be offered ‘support’, such are their traumas. Presumably these ‘struggling’ workers include the Welsh Ambulance Service personnel who are fiddling their expenses, violently assaulting each other and failing to respond to calls from members of the public in serious need (please see post ‘A Longstanding Problem…’). Yet still not a word from Sarah about the appalling abuses of the mental health services in north Wales – she’ll know all about them because her brother Simon Moseley is a clinical psychologist employed by the Betsi….

I heard on the radio an update on the sad story of Alice Gibson-Watt (please see post ‘News Round-Up, April 13 2017’) who died in the ‘care’ of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital after experiencing a postpartum psychosis. I note that it was concluded that there was a catalogue of ‘failures’ on the part of the NHS – although no-one managed to explain how Alice sustained a torn liver at their hands, although it was the torn liver that caused the cascade of physical problems that killed her.

A reader informed me that a previous star of this blog, Simon Pyke, a lying, incompetent former mental health services manager with the Betsi went on a ‘Knowledge Exchange Visit’ to the inaugural Indo-European Symposium with one Dr Brian Tehan – a Dr Murali Krishna (formerly a consultant old age psychiatrist with the Betsi) was involved as well. Just to remind readers, it was an elderly mentally ill ward at the Betsi, Tawel Fan, where conditions were so bad that a national scandal followed after a whistleblower made an undercover recording, that caused the Welsh Gov’t to place the Betsi in special measures. Patients on Tawel Fan were crawling naked around a floor covered in urine and faeces and one patient had a broken arm that had not been treated. What on earth would the people responsible for such ‘care’ have to teach anyone attending an Indo-European Symposium? Interestingly enough the link that the reader sent telling me about this is a Bangor University link to the School of Social Sciences. I used to work in that School and when I worked there it was full of, well, Social Scientists, some of whom were very good. But something strange happened just before I left – the School started filling up with psychiatrists from the Betsi and their associates, who certainly didn’t know anything about social science. Presumably this ‘Knowledge Exchange Visit’ was another jolly organised by those psychiatrists and their associates, none of whom have any knowledge to exchange at all beyond how to abuse and neglect patients. I see that the link to this piece of info is broken – has someone at Bangor University woken up to what a PR disaster it’s going to be if anyone actually associates Simon Pyke et al with them? Interestingly enough, other readers have been telling me that when they’ve searched for folks at Bangor University who have featured on this blog, they too have found that the information from the University website has disappeared – and the University of Oxford have removed a few links to dear old Mark Williams’s original ‘mindfulness’ work as well… Have Bangor and Oxford finally woken up to what has been going on? I would imagine that the VCs of these institutions might be very worried indeed, although I am aware that the idiots who were actually responsible for the fraudulent ‘research’ exposed on this blog are still in a sound sleep up there – as ever it’s only dear old David Healy who’ realised that they’re all on borrowed time….

Whilst on the subject of Bangor University removing links to embarrassments, regular readers might remember my post regarding the disasterous Hilary Lappin-Scott and her brief time as PVC for Research at Bangor (please see post ‘News Round-Up, March 16 2017’). After the University divested itself of her services, a lot of us were very entertained to see that all references to Lappin-Scott disappeared from the website within two hours of her departure. The word on the ground was that a trusted IT technician was ordered to cleanse the website – I was told that the University’s experience with Satan-Scott had been so dreadful that there was a concern that she might remove crucial information from databases in an act of sabotage, so security measures were undertaken as well. Satan-Scott of course has re-emerged at Swansea University, where she has caused havoc. The investigative website ‘The Eye’ is really obsessed with Satan-Scott and has been reporting on the chaos that she has been causing at Swansea for months. Their latest update reveals that Satan-Scott has been appointed to a key position regarding the Research Excellence Framework and interdisciplinary research, although she has no expertise whatever in the field. Since leaving Bangor, Satan-Scott has constructed herself as an ‘expert’ on ‘gender’ – Satan-Scott is a microbiologist and knows bugger all about gender scholarship (indeed I was entertained to see that many of the most basic facts and figures relating to the ‘gender gap’ given in a recent ‘international presentation’ by Satan-Scott were wrong), but she has declared herself a gender expert on much the same basis that Leanne Wood has declared herself a feminist – because she’s a woman (hey Hilary, men have a gender too!). According to the Eye, Satan-Scott has been busy ingratiating herself to Dame Athene Donald, the woman who has now offered Satan-Scott the position on the REF committee. Oh well, so we now going to have a brainless bully who tramples on women who are not in a position to do her favours passing judgement on other people’s research that she will not understand. I note that although Theresa May recently visited Swansea University, Satan-Scott was not part of the delegation that met her – presumably someone at Swansea knew damn well that Satan-Scott could not be let loose on the ultimate VIP.

The row regarding weekend death rates in the NHS continues apace – I can’t see anyone ever getting to the bottom of this one, because the figures from the NHS can’t be trusted but neither can any figures presented by Jeremy Hunt. It reminds me a little of a confrontation on ‘Any Questions’ a while ago between Peter Hain and Kirsty Williams, where they both yelled that the other one was lying during a row about nurse to patient ratios in NHS Wales. The reality was that neither of them knew and neither of them had the guts to admit that much nursing practice in the UK NHS is unsafe, so the nurse to patient ratio in such circumstances is not a marker of quality anyway. NHS England are also busy boasting about the number of new nurses that they’re training – it doesn’t matter Jeremy/Theresa, if those nurses have standards they’ll leave, just as thousands of other nurses have already and your staffing problem will remain. There is no shortage of qualified nurses in the UK, just a shortage of nurses who want to work as nurses – and it’s nothing to do with salaries or funding, it’s the bullying and dysfunction that drives them away.

I was struck by a mystery yesterday. The media has been awash with reports of a high profile boxing match (I don’t know between who because I don’t follow boxing), but over the past few years I’ve noticed that boxing has undergone a remarkable rehabilitation. At one point boxing was considered very unacceptable and the BMA campaign to outlaw it almost looked as if it was about to succeed. (I remember a BMA spokesman stating that ‘there is no safe level for being hit on the head’, which must be one of the few honest things that a spokesman for the BMA has ever said.) But the BMA have now gone very quiet where boxing is concerned – what’s happened? Who’s silenced them and how? We are now subjected to media reports telling us how Prince Harry overcame his aggressive urges by hitting people, how it is ’empowering’ for young women to hit each other and how some schools are re-introducing the noble sport of hitting each other in order to keep youngsters away from crime (it worked a treat with Ronnie and Reggie Kray didn’t it) – and not a squeak from the BMA…

Lastly, yesterday I heard the dreadful Esther Rantzen on the radio waxing lyrical about her ‘work’ with charities, particularly ‘mental health’ and Childline. Esther forgot to mention the recent revelations that some children had rung Childline complaining of institutional sexual abuse and had been ignored or the embarrassing claims of the woman who maintains that she told Esther all about Jimmy Savile but Esther never responded. Well when Esther launched her mental health campaign I wrote to her about the abuses taking place in the mental health services in north Wales and Esther never replied to me either. However, this morning I heard that supermarkets are going to start selling wonky looking vegetables again. So I’ll purchase a root vegetable that looks like a penis and send it to Esther – I’ll be guaranteed a reply…

Of course there has been another big story whilst I’ve been away – that of Ian Paterson, the surgeon who carried out unnecessary mastectomies on women and who has now been convicted of unlawful wounding. I’ll be dedicating a whole post to this, because it’s worth exploring in detail…

 

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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