Yesterday, a 14 yr old, left in the care of Pembrokeshire Health Board, died of 'neglect' in hospital. Her name was Sarah Bernard, and the brief news item reported that the Health Board was 'investigating the circumstances'. They also said "Sorry", in the manner of an inert eraser that had just removed 14 years of a beautiful past and decades of a beautiful future for Sarah and her loved ones. We'll let you know when more details emerge.
A 34 year old research scientist, Kathryn Ann Howell, was found hanged on October 31st 2011 in her room in Whitchurch Hospital. Her brother discovered her harrowing suicide letter on her Macbook Pro Laptop days later. A nursing assistant, supposedly carrying out hourly checks on Kathryn failed to confirm the checks, with her signature, in accordance with hopital procedure. These checks should have been carried out by a qualified nurse at the very least. However, the jury of four men and six women concluded that "Whilst recognising there were procedural failures, we don't feel that the outcome would have been any different". Well, we'll never know, will we, because nobody cared enough to look after Kathryn properly ! I'm still waiting for the empty apology from the Universally Inept Health Board, along with their reassurance that "procedures have been reiforced to enure that this can never happen again". This is the same crap spouted out by a health board or Trust whose first thought is to absolve itself of any responsibility for these needless deaths, like "all ligature points have been eliminated....." and "staff have received re-training on the treatment of 'at risk' patients." (Yeah Right ). Every time there has been a death at Whitchurch, that's all we've heard - empty, insincere rhetoric that serves only to cover-up their neglect of patient care.
Another court, presided over by Mary Hassell, decided that a mentally ill pensioner, Ann Cole , 69.had died of 'natural causes'.after weeks of neglect that resulted in this poor lady being found in old clothes, in a urine soaked bed. The pathologist said that "She died of multiple organ failure caused by longstanding pneumonia in both lungs and an abcess on the diphragm that had not responded to antibiotics ! It's incredible that a patient with such longstanding physical health problems was denied the proper care, simply because she was an inpatient of a mental health unit - Llanfair Hospital, a stone's throw away from Llandough hospital where Anne Cole could, and should, have been given proper care, much earlier on when symptoms must have become obvious. There are no excuses for allowing Mrs Cole to die in such circumstances and the empty words of the Health Board's Deputy Chief Executive are as insulting as any could be, "The Health Board is committed to fully investigating these concerns ( expressed futily by family members on many occasions ) and has already spoken to the family and provided them with personal contact to discuss these concerns. We would once again like to offer our sympathies to Mrs Cole's family and offer any help we can". Well 'Bully for you' I say,....' as it's way too late to do anyone any good' - especially Anne Cole. Mary Hassell failed to record a narrative verdict that would have permitted further investigation. Clearly, a coroner determined to get at the very roots of these tragic stories of death amongst the mentally ill - (yeah right - this being the third time I have seen her 'cop out' of her responsibilities.)
The problem is, the mentally ill receive the poorest care of any speciality. They are stigmatised by everyone, including the Health Board. A Mental Health unit does not have a doctor on site to care for any physical ailments. Good management practices are non-existent, as is evidenced by the high number of these cases which show that the mentally ill are at the bottom of the ladder of good, holistic healthcare. It's become a demarkation issue, with no union to defend them. Patients are regularly discharged too early for 'Care in the Community' that is woefully inadequate ( if in place at all ), resulting in high numbers of re-admissions and yet more poor care and treatment.
My opinion is that people should be diagnosed with 'Health' problems, and not deliberately segregated as being 'Mentally ' or 'Physically' . If somone is ill, they deserve the very best care and treatment that the NHS in Wales should be offering, regardless of the perceived ailment. Incidentally, the mentally ill are not covered by our so-called 'Equality and Equal Opportunity' legislation. It's enough to make you puke ! R.W.