( Take ) Care in the Community
Since the final depletion of our once-effective mental health Services, we have all been waiting for the ‘bed equivalents’ to rise from the ashes like the glowing Phoenix. Having talked about this transition for at least ten years, we had a reasonable expectation that provision for the care of the mentally ill within the community was just about to appear on the distant horizon.
Unfortunately, the promises of psychiatric assessment at you local GP, more Community Psychiatric Nurses and – of course- the advent of ‘Talking therapies’ have all remained a figment of imagination at the Universally Inept Health Board, in their newly refurbished offices based in the grounds of Whitchurch hospital. [ Let us not forget that the replacement for this Victorian Asylum is an ongoing farce, having had at least five planning approvals for building on site, plus a 2.1/2 year delay in the building of a replacement on the overcrowded and inaccessible LLandough Hospital site ]
To the importance of the NHS, mental health services are still at the level that is below whale excrement. The Cinderella Service has all but disappeared, except to those who have to endure this abdication of care. The lack of proper assessment has been highlighted often over recent years. However, the case of Patient John Jenkins, 24, who killed his mother and sister two days after being taken to a mental health unit following a suicide bid is gripping, to say the least At the scene of this suicide attempt witnesses report Jenkins repeatedly shouting that he wanted to kill his mother.
Following a 90 minute ‘examination’ by a psychiatric nurse, he was declared ‘low risk; and released back into the community. Jenkins then went on to kill his mother, Alice McMeekin, 58, and University of South Wales student Katie Jenkins at their home in Cumbria, with an axe ! He was sentenced to a minimum term of 12 years, at Ashworth hospital. The Crown Prosecution Service ( bless ’em ) accepted his guilty plea on two counts of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. If he recovers during this internment, he will resume the rest of his sentence in prison.
As if this wasn't tragic enough, the daughter of a Cardiff nurse brutally strangled by a paranoid schizophrenic has hit out at authorities for planning to release the killer back onto the streets of South Wales. This decision was described as being “breathtakingly insensitive” by daughter Joanne Welsh, 27, after only four years since the murder of her mother the day before Mother’s Day.
Surprisingly, the perpetrator, John Constantine was only just recently released from a psychiatric hospital and, being homeless was offered a bed at the kindly nurse's home, where she was beaten and had her wrists slashed prior to the eventual murder. Needless to say , he was convicted of manslaughter, on the grounds of diminished responsibility and sent indefinitely to a maximum security hospital. Four years later Miss Welsh received word from the Ministry of Justice that Constantine should be sent back to south Wales for treatment, with the possibility that he could be back on the streets soon after,
Two horror stories that involved Care in the Community. R. W.