News Round Up, August 20 2017

There’s been a number of high profile Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board failures over the last two days.

David Roberts, a man of 70 from Amlwch, is in severe pain and waiting for a knee replacement. Mr Roberts has been on the waiting list since August 2016 and has been told by the Betsi that the waiting time for the relevant operation is now 98+ weeks… Mr Roberts is remarkably understanding and has commented that ‘I understand that it’s all down to funding, low staff and cut backs’. No Mr Roberts, sadly that is not true – it is down to incompetence and corruption. The Betsi has plenty of money and Vaughan Gething and the Welsh Gov’t keep giving it more as well, it is being wasted. They are short of staff but that’s because no-one will work in north Wales because the NHS there has such an atrocious reputation. People do know that abusive staff are catered for and protected whilst whistleblowers are sacked. That is not the way to attract good staff but it’s what Martin Jones and Peter Higson have done for years, which is why the Betsi is in this state.

Another Betsi story in the news at the moment concerns Brooke Cheatle. Brooke is eight years old and had her leg amputated when she was younger. She wears a prosthetic leg but the Betsi is involved so things are not going smoothly. Brooke is now using a wheelchair whilst her mum battles with ‘Betsi chiefs’ in a desperate attempt to secure decent treatment for Brooke. Brooke has had a number of prosthetic legs which have been faulty. The foot of the last one actually fell off, so Brooke’s mother returned it to the Betsi. It was sent back through the post with the foot crudely glued on at the wrong angle. Furthermore it was returned to Brooke without a fitting, so it didn’t fit properly, cut into Brooke’s skin and caused pressure sores and blisters. Medical professionals have now deemed the prosthetic leg ‘unsafe to use’. Who has been providing this splendid service? The Artificial Limb and Appliance Centre at Wrexham. Brooke’s mother made a written complaint to the Betsi and attempted to transfer Brooke’s care to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. This necessitated writing to their GP for funding – the Betsi refused the funding without any explanation, so the transfer has not happened. Brooke’s mum has been told that Brooke’s care must remain with the Wrexham centre. She has now stated that she ‘has lost all faith’ in the Betsi and wants Brooke treated in England. Well good luck with that Brooke’s mum – I know of a number of mental health patients, including me, who after the most dreadful negligence and sometimes all out abuse tried to transfer elsewhere. The dear old Hergest Unit refused to let us go. They made it quite clear that they loathed us and were waiting for us to drop dead, but no, every time we tried to get care from elsewhere the Hergest threw a hissy fit and stated that we were ‘their’ patients. I realised that the Hergest was going to end up either killing me or imprisoning me for something that I hadn’t done after yet more attempts to frame me, so in the end I walked away. I know a number of other people who sought private care in other parts of the UK and one man who went abroad.

The Daily Post Online is reporting yet another bizarre mental health services story. Judge Niclas Parry has given James Harland an 18 month suspended prison sentence and a restraining order after Harland  told a number of people that he was planning to kill himself and his wife. Harland made it quite clear why he was making these threats – it was because he wanted help for mental health problems and couldn’t get it. He told the local mental health team who failed to respond, so he put two knives in his vehicle and showed them to the mental health team, telling them that this was how desperate he felt. No response. So he then rang the office of the Labour MP for Alyn and Deeside Mark Tami to complain about the mental health services. Mr Harland repeated his threat – and a member of Mr Tami’s staff called the police and Mr Harland was arrested. Niclas Parry has described it as a ‘seriously worrying case’ – because ‘a professional person’ (ie. the mental health social worker) saw the knives and ‘did not call the police’. They didn’t offer him any help with psychiatric care either. Neither did Mr Tami’s lot – they did call the police but did that rather than respond to Mr Harland’s complaints about the mental health services. Niclas Parry told Mr Harland in Court that ‘you are now going to be offered help’. What a pity that didn’t happen before – when Mr Harland asked for it. Parry also stated that a ‘robust risk management plan…to protect the public’ would be put in place. Which there is no need for – Mr Harland isn’t a risk to anyone. He was showing social workers’ knives because nothing he did resulted in an offer of mental health care, so he tried to demonstrate to people how desperate he was. Niclas Parry also sentenced Mr Harland to 40 days rehabilitation. What a bizarre, traumatic and very expensive way of getting Mr Harland the help that he needed. Except that he’s got a criminal record now as well, for carrying a blade and threatening behaviour. So when he’s recovered he’s not going to be able to get a job is he. Ooh it’s the stigma you see…there’s so much stigma against people with mental health problems, that’s why they don’t get jobs.

Niclas Parry said that he was ‘alarmed’ at this case. So am I, but for rather different reasons than Niclas Parry. But then I’m alarmed at Niclas Parry’s presence as a Crown Court judge. Back in 1996 when he was just a whippersnapper, Niclas Parry appeared at the Waterhouse Inquiry as Solicitor-Advocate to a particularly nasty paedophile (see post ‘This Is What Happened To Nicola, Niclas, Merfyn, Joan and Kathryn’). Niclas’s biography also demonstrates that he has close personal and professional links to many others who concealed the paedophile ring in north Wales. Niclas’s career has gone from strength to strength and now he’s on the Circuit in Wales regularly making the most bizarre decisions and comments.

 

BBC News Wales online today ran a report about how ‘job sharing’ might be a possibility for future AMs. The Assembly Commission said that a change of electoral rules might be possible under the forthcoming Wales Act 2017 which will give new powers to the Assembly and that it might be possible to introduce a system of job sharing which at the moment isn’t permissible. It was stated that this might increase the proportion of women and disabled people willing to stand for election to the Assembly. Sarah Rees of the Women’s Equality Party spoke in favour of the idea and said that Wales should lead on this. Sarah has two young children and stood as a candidate in the last election. I know Sarah, she’s very committed and a very hard worker – she’d be an excellent candidate whether she chose to job share or not. Sarah was speaking for women’s interests. Who spoke for ‘the disabled?’ A former candidate with a disability perhaps? Of course not. It was Rhian Davies, Chief Exec of Disability Wales, who stated that ‘more creative solutions are needed to encourage disabled people into politics’. I think she said something about stigma as well.

The most creative solution would be to get rid of Disability Wales and to stop Rhian Davies mouthing off lame clichés on behalf of disabled people. Rhian Davies has been Chief Exec of Disability Wales since 2001 and has achieved bugger all for disabled people. A look at the Disability Wales website shows the hundreds of thousands of pounds pouring into the coffers of Disability Wales from the Welsh Government but this blog alone – indeed this post – shows how grim things are for people with health problems or disabilities in Wales (and indeed in the wider UK). It is nothing to do with ‘stigma’ or the need for ‘creative solutions’ – a functioning health and care system would work wonders. Or for Theresa May to stop butchering disability benefits to such an extent that disabled people are being made destitute. I’ve never heard Rhian Davies utter a word on these topics. Guess who’s building up a nice little career for herself on the back of ‘disability issues’ though? Rhian Davies!

Rhian is Chair of the Coalition on Changing Cymru; a member of the Welsh Gov’ts Tackling Poverty External Advisory Group; between 2007-12 she was a member of EHRC’s Statutory Wales Committee; and she played an active role in the Inquiry Into Disability Harassment. In 2010 she completed an MSc in Equality and Diversity from Cardiff University!

I don’t think that there’s going to be many creative solutions coming from Rhian. However I know what will happen if the Welsh Government introduces any sort of initiative at all in order to help people with disabilities stand for election. A sharp elbowed person – who will probably have followed a career of the sort that Rhian Davies has – will flag up an inconvenience as a ‘disability’ and use that to demand special consideration. In the way that Theresa May suddenly announced that she had a ‘disability’ – she’s a diabetic – after she was accused of shafting disabled people with the welfare reforms. Diane Abbott developed a disability – again diabetes, but Diane Abbott has type 2 diabetes which means she doesn’t have to inject herself with insulin, she just has to watch her diet. Diane declared her own disability after a dismal media performance during which she couldn’t answer questions. But that is a regular occurrence with Diane Abbott and she’s never mentioned diabetes before. She usually just accuses whoever has put her on the spot of sexism and racism. That is the danger of ‘initiatives’ – if they are not very carefully thought out they are just used by the same old culprits to ruthlessly elbow everybody else out of the way.

My post ‘It’s The Sun Wot Won It’ reported on the inexplicable twitter storm that followed a recent innocuous tweet sent out by Leanne Wood. The appalling Katie Hopkins has now joined the fray and tweeted ‘What is Welsh for ‘get back down the mines’?’ If you want to know that Katie, enrol in a Welsh class and bloody well learn instead of spitting poison at the rest of the world via Mail Online or LBC. And in case you hadn’t noticed, there aren’t any mines left in Wales – the Tory Party that you so robustly support closed every one of them down. That’s why Leanne’s dad became unemployed you total ignoramus. By the way, despite coming from a region of Wales wrecked by Thatcher and Heseltine and despite having a dad who was shoved onto a dole queue whilst she was growing up, Leanne has become the leader of a political party. Which is more than you’ve achieved – all you managed to do was to lie to get into Sandhurst and then get caught out.

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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