Wednesday, 29 June 2011

A Bit of Blood-letting at the C&VUHB- at last !

Just a quick update, following the pre-meditated blocking of our Blog from all NHS staff.  Also, I and my colleagues were deliberately not invited to the June Board Meeting, where the Community Health Council's Steve Allen, apparently gave Board Members a mock ultimatum on the disgraceful bed-sharing at Whitchurch Hospital.  The thought of Steve Allen acting out this farcical pantomime reminded me of a certain MP who compared such an act as 'being savaged by a dead sheep', which I feel is most appropriate to the misguided notion that the CHC (and its' Manager ) have any influenece or powers at all.   Most amusing, I'm sure you will agree.  However there was a notable absentee at this meeting.  The duplicitous, deceitful harridan, Katie Norton has, apparently, been made the scapegoat for the pantomime that was the recent consultations on the new proposals for mental health.  Personally speaking, I am overjoyed at this news but, at the same time, extremely disappointed that she was the only victim of our 'Divine Retribution'.  Why didn't the new Minister weild the axe with more enthusiasm and clear out all the villains on the Board ?  Paul Stollard's bumbling incompetence - as displayed in his laughable 'Outline Business Case', entitled 'The Development of an Acute Mental Health Inpatient Unit' - must have demanded his immediate dismissal, by anyone's standards ?  Of course, we musn't forget that this 'Plan' ( and the previous Sham consultations ) had the support of the Chair and the Chief Executive of the UHB, which automatically makes them 'accessories before and after the fact' in this criminal misrepresentation of the allocation of public funds - OUR MONEY, people, never forget this fact.  So, when will the new minister rid us of these incompetent charlatans and give us, and the 'mute' members of the Board, some effective, cost-effective, and productive leadership of our Health Board.  Clear them all out now, Minister, and revisit the daft and unworkable plans for mental health services before more patients die on the altar to the false deity of the NHS.  While you're at it Minister - if you really want to save money - get rid of the CHCs in Wales, once and for all.  They are as useless as udders on a bull.

Monday, 27 June 2011

And Now, For Something Completely Different !

Today, I have been suffering an awful bout of depression, so deep as to render me over-tired, unable to sleep, and angry.  Nobody knows the feeling of complete uselessness and failure, that fills the dark cloud that forms the Vortex, dragging sufferers down to previously unplumbed depths.  I am chronically ill and having to face the prospect of palliative rather than corrective treatment.  Still, I am re-energised by the need to fight the needless and mercenary injustices perpetrated on the mentally ill by an uncaring Welsh Government and a cost-cutting Health Board that chooses the most vulnerable, defenceless patients to savage, as their first victims of the initial onslaught on costs.  What shameless, uncaring, cowards they are - without even a shred of remourse over the suffering they inflict.  I WILL defeat them, but first I must pause and tear myself out of the vortex that is utter, remorseless, mental despair.  Thankfully, we have strength in numbers, for there are TWO of us, equally committed to the cause regardless of the consequenses to ourselves. Go get 'em Gill !

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Culture of Fear in NHS Wales

Recently I  reported that access to our blog had been blocked.  It is a fact that, up until two weeks ago, staff employed in Mental Health Services and Social Services could access our blog, freely and with much pleasure.  Both Gillian and I were complimented by many NHS employees for 'saying what had to be said' on behalf of staff and service users alike who are dissatisfied with current plans for Mental Health Services in Cardiff and the Vale.  Over 1055 have read our site with increased interest - until 'Big Brother' or 'Big Sister' ordered that access to our site - specifically ) be denied to all NHS employees.  I have visited three sites within the past two weeks and found this to be a fact, with sympathetic testimony from many staff.  I asked Madeleine Brindley of Media Wales "What have they got to be afraid of ?".  Her reply ( below ) came yesterday, and reads, verbatim ;


I made a few calls this morning about why your blog has been blocked, this is what Cardiff and Vale UHB told me:

 A spokesman for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said: "The Health Board , in accordance with national policy, has strict IT protocols in place to protect its systems from potential external threats.
 "As part of this access to all social media and blogging sites is restricted. There is no ban on individual sites or blogs."
 Let me know if I can do anything else

My reply denounced this statement as a blatant lie, proving that the culture of fear exists, throughout the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and, now, all Mental Health and Social Services staff  who feel ( by implication ) that they are not allowed to even read or listen to criticisms from genuine service users, who they are employed to help.  The statement proves that they admit to blocking the blog, but is it possible that they can restrict access to all 'social media and blogging sites' ?  My highly qualified friends, who are 'computer geeks', tell me that it is impossible to have access to our blog two weeks ago and then have it terminated.  The statement also proves that the Health Board is afraid of us becauses we have spoken the truth, with every word we have written.  They also know that we can prove every incriminating action that they , the Community Health Council, and all other paid sycophants, have taken from the recent sham consultations , and as far back as the crooked disposal of Sully Hospital.  The Auditor General Knows this and so does our First Minister Carwyn Jones.  Let me tell you all one thing - WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED, until this culture of fear is removed, and all staff, stakeholders, and service users are allowed to have their views expressed ( and taken seriously ), in what is clearly NOT a Wales Democracy.
Please get in touch for further details and information and these blatant, bullying injustices by our incompetent Health Board.   And. if you don't believe, just read any of the documents - Board minutes, proposals, Outline Business Case etc , and you will see that they are a deliberate misrepresentation of the truth - liars all !

Friday, 10 June 2011

My Patient Experience

My experiences as a Patient in Whitchurch Hospital 

When I was about 4 years old, I recall being taken to St David’s hospital on several occasions, and eventually told that my daily stomach pains were due to ‘Anxiety’. I was labelled a ‘nervy’ child, which is hardly surprising when - at the sound of a wailing siren, my mother would rush by brother and me underneath a bomb-proof shelter.  Here, I would cling to my mother like a limpet, being so frightened that I even used to eat the marmite sandwiches that seemed to form our staple diet

My first stay in Whitchurch hospital was some twenty years later, when my marriage had deteriorated, I had become unemployed, yet had a wife who demanded more and more for the children.  Matters came to a head when I had been crying well into the ‘wee hours’ and I wrote my family a short note, the contents of which I cannot remember.  I do, however remember, loading the right barrel of my grandfather’s 12 bore shotgun with a no.5 shot cartridge, taking the safety off, then sticking the barrels into my mouth. The next bit was awkward, as I had to reach the trigger with the big toe of my right foot.  Eventually, I was managed this feat and pushed the trigger hard.
To my surprise, there was only a loud ‘click’ that seemed to reverberate in my ears for ages.  I was still crying, but managed to pull the barrel away to see what had gone wrong.  I had loaded the right barrel ( correctly, as is the habit of any hunter ) but failed to realise that the trigger I had depressed with my toe was for the left (or ‘choke’) barrel, thus setting off the firing pin of the empty barrel.

I became hysterical and my next memory was of a lady, handing me a cup of tea saying ‘here you are Robin, drink this for me’, in the assessment ward at Whitchurch Hospital.  She seemed so kind, but all I could do was keep on crying for hours - then days, without being able to eat, drink or sleep properly.  Periodically, I saw a doctor who I didn’t understand, but who still prescribed more pills for me to take.  The staff were like tired robots, and I had no idea why they shone a torch into my eyes at night, then woke me up to ‘have a wash and a shave’.  I washed, but that was all I could do, staggering back into the ward and, immediately told to join a queue for my ‘medication’.

This regimen was repeated in the evening, with the bonus of a cup of milky, sugarless tea which I detested. Days later, I was even less aware of my situation, in spite of everyone talking to me as though I were a rather stupid child who didn’t understand words unless they were said very s-l-o-w-l-y, but the staff seemed genuinely concerned.  And so the daily routine continued until I managed to stop crying long enough to be allowed to sit in the lounge with my fellow inmates ( there was a ‘locked door’ policy, and rules to follow – like asking to go to the bathroom to use the toilet or the shower ).  Looking at the other patients I became very frightened.  Some stood against walls banging their heads, whilst others stared, vacantly, into nothingness, seeming to have lost all hope.  I felt trapped in a vortex of utter despair myself, but I didn’t want to become like that poor soul.  During the following hours, some patients became agitated and started shouting, whilst others ( like me ) began crying in fear of what they might do.  I could not understand, at the time, why I was here – in a ward full of men and women, all in varying degrees of physical and mental distress.  I retreated to my bed, but was quickly dissuaded from this as I ‘had to mix in order to make friends’.

My bouts of crying returned and I tried to do everything I was told so as not to get told off by some of the more senior and much stricter staff.  I was living a nightmare of having to obey a strict routine, whilst enduring the seemingly endless queuing at either end of the dormitory.  I kept asking, and then begging, to see my family but was told that ‘it was too early’, and that ‘I’d soon be well enough’.  One day, we were all ordered to our beds in the middle of the day and told to ‘be quiet’, whilst a cabal of doctors and nurses huddled at the locked door end of the ward, whispering to each other harshly.  Later, nearing my discharge, I was told that ‘one of the very sick patients had passed away’, aided ( as I discovered later ) by a ligature of dressing-gown cord  and a light fixture.  The rest of the day passed in relative silence, but at least I could feel my senses and my awareness returning, following a reduction in my medication, that was made as a ‘treat’ to an obedient dog.  Still no family came, only the daily routine and wasted interviews with doctors who seemed to be reading from a script and not caring whether I answered or not.

Eventually, I was discharged into a world of kindness and understanding where everyone I met was sympathetic towards the mentally ill ( yeah right ), but that another story…… 

N.B. You can turn away now and it's over, but the patients in Whitchurch do not have this luxury.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Orwellian Censorship, ordered by the Health Authoriites

Breaking news............this reporter has recently learned that, due to the large numbers of mental health staff reading out Blogg, access to our reports on the true state of Mental Health Services has been blocked from any NHS computer. Therefore, access to is no longer possible, as anything seen as sedition must be stopped/  Accessing benign sites, such as  e-bay or 'Porn Again' however is still permitted - at break times, of course.  Watch this space for more preventative action from 'The Dark Side', whilst the 'Dastardly Duo' a.k.a.'The Quills' continue their fight for justice for the mentally ill !

Friday, 3 June 2011

The Tail Wags the Dog (?)

Just a brief note on the Cardiff and Vale Mental Health Development Project. I have written to them at my instigation, requesting their remit, names of Trustees and asking 'When did you ever think that you had the authority to order service users about what they can say or write.'  Just to clarify the position, if anyone at the Project disagrees with us, then ( please ) write back, or sue us properly through the courts for Slander and/or Libel.  Meanwhile, I suggest that you address the main issue confronting the patients at Whitchurch hospital, which is , “What provisions are being made ( by the Health Board ) to improve inpatient accommodation and services, during the 4/5 years that it will take to complete the new unit at Llandough ?”    I have represented the Project on every committee, that has been instructed to have a 'token' service user with them.  If I had been a black homosexual ( preferrably Muslim and female ), I might have had some chance of being heard, but being a white, elderly male, Christian, hetrosexual, I am the 'new ethnic minority', with mental illness condemning me to be the lowest life form - even lower than whale excrement.

The 'Project' has ( at best ) a dismal performance history, managing ( over it's 13 year existence ) to get a patient database of only 150 or so, of the 6700+ service users to take any interest in anything they do, which is a pathetic condemnation of their use of 13 years of being funded with public money. Regarding anything I write, I won't be censored by the system that has so consistently failed to support the users of mental health services.  All of us deserve to be treated with the same respect as so-called 'normal people'.   So please be quiet, go back to sleep in case you wake another Hydra head ! ........  Robin

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The Hydra Wakes, coughs, then sleeps

At last, one of the Hydra's heads, Mind ( with independent franchises everywhere ) speaks out against the the Work Capability Assessment, which they declare ( correctly, if belatedly )  is 'Having a devastating effect on people with mental health problems'  "Hoorah" we say, as I have represented five 'clients' recently and found the test to be nothing more than a way to dupe the poor souls with acute problems. Having attended my first such assessment, I was astounded when the nurse asked, "Can you move that box of tissues on the desk, dear ?" After a "Uh ?" reply, she stated, "There you are, you see you are able to do some work". Through clenched teeth I asked the dear lady, if she was conducting a mental or physical assessment and.........was she qualified to conduct either ? Eventually, we saw a doctor who knew something about mental and physical ailments, who quickly determined that my client was incapable of holding down any job.  Apparently, this ATOS algorythingy provides a script of stupid questions which seem, inevitably, to conclude that anyone with any mental health problem is fit for work and, therefore, shouldn't be on incapacity benefit, or even Disability Living Allowance.
So, let's hear all the Hydra's heads condemn this Work Capability Assessment, and ensure that it is changed immediately.  By way of ending this little piece, I must say that I found it astonishing that Mind failed to condemn the bullying of people 'with mental health problems' after the Panorama programme, but then they kept quiet over all the bullying, fires and suicides at Whitchurch for years.

By the way, it's nice to hear  Paul Hollard ( Planning Director for the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board ) stating the glaringly obvious about the inadequacy of orthopaedic services after this has been of major concern for over 20 years ( Echo 31st May ). What a shame he didn't state the same about Mental Health Services during the recent 'sham' consultation and his publishing of the laughable 'Outline Business Case' for the new hospital proposed for Llandough.  Perhaps the new Minister is working on the 'Lethal Disease Outbreaks' ( same Echo edition ), before tackling the lethal incompetence within the health board(s) ?  We live in hope !