Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Back to the Stark Reality of Mental Illness

Yesterday, a really good friend of mine, who cares for the mentally ill and the 'eductationally challenged', gave me a sharp reminder about what this blog - and my 14 year campaign to improve servise to the mentally ill of all ages - is all about.  His Aunt died after suffering from depression for years without proper inpatient care, or 'Care in the Communiy'.  Needless to add, she died on her own, and only those who have experienced the Black Hole of clinical depression are able to imagine the suffering she must have endured before the merciful release occurred.  Again - needless to add - her death was put down to ' natural causes' - doesn't that convenient statement mask the truth that the REAL cause of death as 'inadequate provision of mental health care' ?
As is if that wasn't enough, one of his 'flock' hanged himself in prison the same day, yet nobody else cares about these preventable deaths.  My heart bleeds for my friend and those two lost souls who were tormented to death by the invisible illness that is becoming more widespread and even more poorly serviced by the Welsh Government, and their Universally Inept Health Board ( Cardiff and Vale Branch ).  God damn them all for their callous indifference to preventable deaths that occur amongst the mentally ill !

Monday, 29 August 2011

Ambulance Chasing, by the Director of Community Health Councils

Did you see Carol Lamyman-Davies ( nee Jones ) giving the Ambulance Service a tongue-lashing, last week on the evening news ?  What a powerful performance of eye-glaring and menacing hair-do !  She really gave 'em 'what for' and told them to buck their ideas up on performance double quick, or else.  Oh, I forgot, there was no 'or else', because the CHC has no more powers over the Ambulance Trust than they have over the  Universally Inept Health Board ( Cardiff & Vale, that is ).  Rumour has it that she did conclude her tirade by saying that she was "Going to hold her breath and stamp her feet until 'somebody' did something". Then, sticking her thumb between her lips and inflating her chubby cheeks, she stamped her way out of the studio.

Speaking as someone who has often been the beneficiary of the Ambulance service, I can honestly say that the staff are as caring and professional as you would find in any hospital A&E unit.  Apart from one miserable old git who almost refused to take a dear friend of mine to hospital, one night, ( she died 3 days later in ITU ) I have nothing but praise for the unsung heroes and heroines of the Ambulance Service, who have saved my life ( and that of countless others ) on countless occasions.  Consequently, I suggest that the 'Shirley Temple' of the CHC, takes her future tirades to the Welsh Government who pay her inflated salary, putting her job 'on the line' in the process.. Yeah, I know - that's about as likely to happen as a rabbit jumping into a gaping crocodile's mouth ! 
If the Welsh Government were sincere about eliminating waste and improving performance, they's get rid of the CHC and the UIHB, then give the money to the Ambulance Trust and A&E staff, who could a better job of running health services.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

'Amonymous' it may have been but at least it was truthful

Last week, I read a letter in the Echo from an anonymous writer and - for the life of me - couldn't understand the need for anonyminity, unless it was written by a Health Board Member, the Minister herself, or a member of staff.  However, the letter was great - all about the terrible parking conditions at Llandough that everyboby who works there or visits there has to put up with seven days a week, and then some !  However, the response from the Planning Director, Paul Hollard, was typically pathetic in that it tried to avoid any responsibility ( on behalf of Cardiff & Vale Universally Inept Health Board ) for creating the situation, to say nothing at all about correcting it.  As with the Health Service they are supposed to provide - where they are 'making the patients fit the service' - Mr Hollard ( I really can't keep referring to him as the Planning Director, as it's a title akin to putting a Maple Syrup label on a bottle of acetic acid ( That's vinegar, listen I studied chemistry, so why shouldn't I use my knowledge ? ), seems to think that blocking up every route leading to the one-and-only-exit in, and out, of the overcrowded site is something that anyone else should sort out.  Perhaps the poor guy is a fan of Dr Who, and imagines that the hospital is small on the outside, but huge on the inside, like the Tardis.  Suffice to say that, in my unhumble opinion, the guy knows as much about Planning as I do about the workings of a mobile telephone or, maybe an XBox 360.  After writing a pithy response ( see Episode 2 - 'The 'Doctor' resorts to an acetylsalicylic tablet ( that's aspirin - See, my schooldays weren't completely wasted on Woodbines, Westerns, and wild, wild women ! ), to make the headache - if not the long-suffering patients, relatives and staff - go away.  Of course, the 'Great Time Lord' has a Master Plan for displacing the only car park with a Mental Health Inpatient Unit, plus Shopping Mall and a bowling alley, plus Imax Cinema - so, Ya-boo and sucks to you !  The only problem is that he forgot to tell anyone else how to fit 1000+ beds, staff, operating theatres, Rookwood Hospital, the useless 'Assessment Unit', the wholly inadequate Elderley Mentally Infirm Unit, New Outpatients clinics plus ( of course ) a Mental Health Hospital ( excuse me ) into his tiny 4 x 4 'Tardis'.  Did I forget to mention the 18 hole golf course ?............oh my - where did I leave my calming mints ?
Anyway, thank you Mr or Mrs anonymous - keep those letters pouring in, now !       RW

Sunday, 21 August 2011

A Woman - 'Wiser by far'

Overjoyed as I am to be lumbered with my own 'Blog', I am sensible and wise enough to realise that not everyone agrees with me. But then - as Oscar Wilde said, "I do hate it when people agree with me - it makes me certain that I am wrong".  We all need to be reminded of our limitations and I readily bow down before the wisdom of  ( Cllr ) Rita Austin, who served on the last Health Board.  I have referred to her words before, but thought it timely to remind everyone of her wisdom by quoting her last published letter, verbatim. R.W.

"In Mental Health, it has always been a case of jam tomorrow"

So Cardiff & Vale Community Health Council has given Cardiff and Vale University Health Board one month to to resolve the overcrowding at Whitchurch Hospital ("Psychiatric patients forced to bed-share" June 22nd ).
This problem has meant patients detained under the Mental Health Acts having to "share" beds or being moved between wards and hospitals in the middle of the night. What does the UHB need to do before the CHC is satisfied ?  And what does the CHC propose to do if the UHB does not meet the month's deadline ?  Have the CHC or the UHB the slightest clue ?
I only ask because this is the same CHC which only a few months ago agreed the Board's plans not to proceed with the new mental health unit at Whitchurch Hospital, plans put on hold within months of taking over.  Had the CHC opposed the Boards misconceived plans, the people of Cardiff generally, and patients sectioned under the Act in particular, would be benefitting from a new unit at Whitchurch Hospital.  Designed with more beds, it was scheduled to open in 2010.
Regretably in mental health provision it has always been a case of Jam Tomorrow.  The Board and the CHC could have made it Jam Today last year, but chose not to.
Senior executives lamentably failed to answer me when I asked for their specific plans for patients detained under the Acts in their brand new scheme of things.  Knowing that the single unit at Llandough would take four years to happen, I asked for further and better capacity particularsfor the interim at Whitchurch as well as the future when all in-patient mental health services would be located at Llandough.  Answer came there none.
What a pity the CHC did not press the capacity issues then.  Bolting horses and shutting stable doors comes yo mind.  And on just what planet can \2continuity of Care be advanced as a reason for moving longer-term patients daily from their beds or nightly between wards and hospitals \/
\as a fit and well person I would not want to be treated this way - would you ?.  So, can you imagine what it does to the comfirt, welfare and wellbeing of those who are unwell enough to be detained under the Mental Health Act ?

Rita Austin
Penylan, Cardiff

N.B.  Months later, neither Rita Austin nor anyone else has received the slightest hint as to what answers to these probing questions might possibly be, leaving uncertaintly, 'like a dark cloud' hanging over us all.  R.W.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Companies/Public Bodies don't Plan to fail, they fail to plan

Only two days after my last critical post, we have yet-another example of the incompetence of the Cardiff & Vale University \Health Board, as illustrated in the following letter to the Echo.  Can anyone imagine what the site will be like if the new Mental Hospital/Shopping Plaza is ever built ?
“Anything Goes at Hospital Car Park

 This anonymous letter in today's Echo says exactly what all users of Llandough hospital would like to say. I have the same problems twice a week, but do not park illegally – so far.

I am astounded by the ‘Executive Director of Planning’s’ reply, especially as the parking problems are due entirely to the failure of the Cardiff & Vale University Health Board’s failure to provide adequate parking since the alterations began. They have no excuses, as they have had years to plan ahead, and even the most naive of us have a right to expect there to be proper provision for parking made long before any building work began. As a an experienced businessman I know that “No one plans to fail – they fail to plan” as is exemplified at Llandough.

  As a patient myself, who is incapable of walking uphill, I am wondering just how long the new Minister will wait before changing this incompetent Health Board, for qualified managers in Procurement and Project Management. Unfortunately, anyone studying the ‘Plans’ for the new Mental Health Hospital will see that the financial planning is equally non-compliant with any established or accepted commercial procedures. This further reduces my confidence in this inept Health Board to manage our public funds. If they cannot manage a multi-million pound building project, how can we have any confidence in their ability to manage the £1bn annual budget for the provision of our basic health services ?

Yours faithfully
Robin Williams – Independent Patient Advocate ( and a patient )

Thursday, 18 August 2011

A Day Late and a dollar short

Boy, it was exciting today to see Carol Davies, Director of Wales Community Health Councils on the television news, giving yet-another example of  Health Board management at it's worst. A death-by-neglect at the 'super hospital' in Llantrisant.  Her facial movement showed real determination and a great hair-do.  Unfortunately, her protestations were utterly meaningless, as she couldn't say what she or the CHCs could do about this unacceptable failure.  They are totally without any power to do a damned thing about any of the faults in the NHS, particularly the appalling lack of planning for the mentally ill, that leaves them virtually neglected, in shabby conditions, with poorly motivated staff for FOUR long years, before the new hospital in Llandough gets built.  Personally speaking, I don't believe the new hospital will ever be built.  Just look at the long delays and lack of progress on the Llandough building site, as a result of bad planning, and contractors who see the University Health Board as the Golden Goose - it must be Christmas day every day for the directors of the contractor.  But - like Rita Austin said, "It's Jam Tomorrow  for Mental Health".  What a combination - an incompetent Health Board, a toothless, sycophantic Community Health Council, and a contractor that's making a fortune, the longer the project takes.  The new Outpatients Unit, the Assessment Unit for the Elderly Mentally Infirm, and everything else in the so-called 'plans' is way overdue - even at getting started.  Great news though - Rookwood Radio has been moved to downstairs Llandough 'bank'. That's getting the priorities right - isn't it, Well.....ISN'T IT ?????  Does nobody out there care, or are you too busy sending money abroad, while 'Great' Britain rots at the hands of two lousy governments - One here and the other in Parliament..  Why go to Dignitas in Switzerland when you can die of neglect here for free ???