News Round Up, May 12 2017

Plas Meddyg, a GP’s surgery in Ruthin, has surpassed itself – Daily Post online are reporting that staff at the surgery refused to ask one of the doctors to help an 79 year old who had fallen and injured themselves outside because the doctors were all ‘too busy’. However a passing schoolgirl assisted the OAP. (Perhaps we should simply formally enlist the nation’s school pupils to run the NHS – after all, a schoolgirl was allowed into a clinic in Ysbyty Gwynedd to observe gynaecological investigations without patients consent – please see blog post ‘The BMA and It’s Ethics’.) In the wake of this story, patients of Plas Meddyg have come from all directions with their accounts of practices there. Allegations include: discrimination against the elderly by not allowing calls from landlines to be used to make appointments – appointments have to be made by text or e mail; two people who arrived at the surgery wanting to make appointments being told to go outside and phone in on their mobile phones to make the appointments; in February scores of patients receiving a letter saying that they would no longer be accepted as patients at the surgery due to the geographical area in which they lived – although many had been registered with the surgery for years – and that their medical records would be sent to a central office within 14 days of the date of the letter. One patient has commented of the surgery that ‘there is no empathy or compassion’. But there will be salaries of 100k pa or more for the doctors who work full time there… The surgery itself has stated that they have a ‘well documented complaints and compliments process’ and it is essential that patients use this to provide feedback. Well the surgery can find out what the patients think of them by reading the Post online now. Three local councillors have stated that they have had ‘constructive’ discussions with Plas Meddyg, with a view to the surgery ‘engaging meaningfully’ with the local community. They could try treating them as human beings deserving of respect. One of the councillors named was a Bobby Feely – a member of the Betsi Board no less. For readers who know no Welsh – ‘Plas Meddyg’ translates as ‘Doctor’s Palace’.

I reported recently (please read post ‘Those Who Care Are Concerned’) that the Top Doctors seem to be gearing up for a big scrap with the Westminster Government and as usual it hinges around their demands for more money. They’re pulling out all the stops now, the neurosurgeon Henry Marsh was given air time on Radio 4 this afternoon to vent his spleen about the state of the NHS. His solution? More money of course. Lots of it. Henry Marsh has recently retired but still does a bit of teaching. Where did he/does he work? None other than Atkinson Morley, St Georges Hospital Medical School! The employer of Prof Oliver Brooke who was imprisoned for the possession of huge quantities of child porn as well as all of those psychiatrists who ‘assessed’ me – and took as ‘evidence’ of my ‘dangerousness’ the word of a number of people in north Wales who were concealing a paedophile ring, although the letters written by those psychiatrists at St Georges demonstrated that they knew that the people with whom they were communicating were sexually exploiting patients themselves. As for Henry’s passionate defence of the NHS earlier today – at least two of the psychiatrists involved in taking advice from the associates of a paedophile gang defected to work at the Priory Group. Henry Marsh may well not have been involved in the sort of malpractice that I witnessed himself, but he will not have been able to spend his career working in that establishment without having some idea of the sort of things that were happening. One of Marsh’s bestsellers is entitled ‘Do No Harm’ – perhaps the subtitle should have been ‘do not remain silent about your criminal colleagues’.

I’ve just seen a newsflash on the Guardian’s website stating that NHS England’s (as well as parts of NHS Scotland’s) IT system has been disabled by a cyber-attack and that some doctors are reporting that they are receiving ‘demands for money’. That must have been a shock for them, it is usually they who are demanding money.

I was told that this was expected and now it’s official – Bangor University have announced that redundancies are on the way. Regular readers will know that I have discussed on this blog the activities of a number of Bangor University staff who have been involved in very questionable practices indeed. Sadly I fear that these will not be the people for the chop, particularly as Professor Jo Rycroft-Malone, the PVC for Research, is one of the culprits herself. No, Jo and her network in health, psychology and mental health research who have been involved in some truly shameful scams will sit tight and the people squeezed out will be the more junior staff on short-term contracts who are doing all the teaching and the most innovative research. And no doubt a few of the best professors who are sick to the back teeth of what Rycroft-Malone et al are actually doing to the University will take a lump sum and wave Bangor a fond farewell. So the only people who will actually leave are the people whom the University really needs – the others won’t go because they know that no-one else will employ them. I saw this again and again when I worked at Bangor. The problem at that time was particularly serious because the dreadful Lyn Meadows – now a member of the Betsi Board – was Director of HR. Meadows was the most ferocious bully and had a few chums like the psychopathic Professor Fergus Lowe and the extremely dim but mouthy Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott (please see previous posts) who were also the most frightful bullies and between them these three exerted a truly toxic influence. No-one could understand why this was allowed to go on, because there were/are loads of senior staff in Bangor who are great – the Vice-Chancellor himself was reputed to have been fuming at one meeting after Bangor was actually named in the Times Higher Education Supplement as a university with a bullying problem. But something was happening that most staff were unaware of. Lyn Meadows had a very comfortable relationship with one Eileen Tilley – who was actually the UCU Union rep. I knew staff who were paid up members of the Union who went to Tilley with serious problems re bullying, harassment and unfair dismissal and Tilley blithely assured them all that there wasn’t anything that she could do about that particular problem – although in at least some of those cases the law had been very obviously broken. Tilley doing this was the reason why I didn’t join UCU – I knew that I would be stitched up by Tilley and Meadows and would be afforded no protection at all should I ever have cause for complaint. But Eileen Tilley did something else interesting as well. She registered for a PhD – entitled ‘My Brilliant Career’ no less – and wrote much about the institutional sexism that she claimed was rampant at Bangor, ignoring the fact that the main problem came from three women ie. Tilley, Meadows and Lappin-Scott, who were doing the dirty work of a particularly unscrupulous man, Fergus Lowe. This PhD seemed to contain case material from some of the staff who had consulted her in her capacity as the Union rep – which I think was ethically dodgy from all angles. Another Interesting Fact about Tilley was that she was one of many who denied the serious problems in Ysbyty Gwynedd. I’m not sure what her connections with the NHS were – but there seemed to be something there. Of course the delightful Meadows was a former manager of the Welsh Ambulance Service and had disgraced herself whilst she was a Board member of a Trust in the north west of England by getting herself named in Hansard and on Frank Field’s blog as colluding with a fraud perpetuated by some of the medical staff. One day, after a PhD student had witnessed me being threatened and harassed by Martin Jones and Elfed Roberts, the former CEO and Chair of the North West Wales NHS Trust, this student made a statement for my lawyers and I was sitting with him in the library reading through it. I turned around to find Tilley standing behind us, looking over our shoulders, reading the statement. A senior member of staff whom I knew socially was also concerned about Tilley’s activities and told me that Tilley was due for retirement and, wanting a second career, was angling for a place on the National Executive of the UCU… Just the sort of person needed in such a position clearly.

Now for the latest political news. A young Plaid Councillor called Llinos Medi has been appointed to lead Anglesey County Council. Llinos will need all her ability – as well as a lot of luck – to run that show. Anglesey County Council has been dysfunctional for many, many years, it has featured regularly in Private Eye’s column ‘Rotten Boroughs’ and a few of the Councillors there managed to get themselves imprisoned. The dysfunctional old farts have already started appearing in the local media complaining about Llinos. She cannot possibly be worse than they are. The mainstream media have been hurling all the abuse that they possibly can at Jeremy Corbyn, suggesting that he is a closet ‘pacifist’. It is extraordinary to note that the term ‘pacifist’ has become like the term ‘Marxist’ – although both of these terms simply describe an ideological or political position, at one time perfectly respectable positions, they are now the equivalent of calling someone a serial killer. Meanwhile Theresa May, who refuses to debate with the other leaders, has followed up her vacuous appearance with her husband on the One Show (where she was asked mindless questions about who puts the bins out or does the cooking – in much the same way, Thatcher used to love appearing on the Jimmy Young show because she knew damn well that there’d be no awkward questions), with an appearance on LBC where she managed to shed a few tears whilst discussing her childlessness. It was about as genuine as when Bob Monkhouse used to cry when the guests won the jackpot on the 70s game shows that he used to host – as Private Eye used to quip ‘takes onion out of pocket’. Theresa is 60, her attempts at producing children – if indeed it is true that she did want children – will have been at least twenty years ago and she has found plenty of other fulfilling things to occupy herself with. Not ever having had children is not like the death of a child which is so shattering that people do cry years later when discussing it – furthermore Theresa May is every inch a female politician of today, advised and packaged on every aspect of her public façade, whether it’s being photographed on the cover of Vogue in staid naff gear or wearing her not very exciting kitten heels (those heels that landed Owen Smith in so much trouble when he stated that he wanted to smash her back on them) because that’s as radical as one can be at a Tory conference. She’ll have had the onion concealed about her person somewhere. Owen won’t be allowed to mention Theresa’s crocodile tears because he’s male and he’ll be framed as being the equivalent of a wife-beater if he does, but I’m in possession of ovaries so I’m free to state that no doubt Theresa’s LBC performance was very well-rehearsed and that it will have been her advisors who suggested possible topics for discussion to LBC. Especially after Andrea Leadsom was rude about Theresa being childless during the leadership race. Actually I remember Thatcher shedding tears in public when Mark got lost in the desert – just after she was in danger of being seen as a heartless cow in the wake of the deaths and serious injuries of British servicemen in the Falklands.

 

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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