Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Charitocracy And Pigma Dreams In the UK

Userwatch, bouncing off that cheeky cartoon title suggested by WAHOO KAKATOO the satirical toonist, learns that the proposed National Network of Networks of mental health groups that met in Birmingham in 2006 has certainly gobbled up 500k of Comic Relief chances for many localities and some Service User opportunities to have created some of their own practice and local networks in those localities.

Slowly some mental health Service Users have been trying to get themselves together in various parts of the Country but how many lost opportunities will exist now or be diverted as a result of one group getting 500k ?

At lease one criticism Userwatch is aware of is Comic Relief might have concentrated its efforts on getting more 5k grants out to local Mental Health Service Users .

We hear now that the network comprising of a planning group were at a meeting on 18th October 2006 in London .

Liz Abrahams (Catch a fiya)
Karol Bradbury (MIND Link)
Tina Braithwaite (Richmond Fellowship)
Tina Coldham
David Crepaz Keay (Mental Health Foundation)
Matt Gregory (Revolvers)
Rob Henderson (Mental Health Matters)
Dominic Makavachuma Walker (Catch a Fiya)
Shannon O Neil (MIND)
Jude Sellan (Young Minds)

WE also note Anne Beales From Together (Charity) and Jan Wallcraft (SURGE) were not at the meeting although they are involved with this initiative .

The Group are after another 250k from the Tudor Trust - most of the figures named here are from charity organisations with a few Service Users Groups and there is a fear amongst Service Users more widely who know about this initiative, that the Charity sector will cast a substantial self interested shadow and over affairs in the proposed NNN Group.

There are many fears being voiced about the lack of democracy inherent in the design of the NNN so far of what was supposed to be the start of a National Service Users Movement sponsored by Mental Health Foundation and the Trustees of that Charity as a future thrust .

(SEE ALSO Mary Ohara's Article/BLOG on Jonathon Naess Nov 2007 )

More Later ..

Useful Links ref "Social Enterprise Evolution"

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

How Suicides And Records In Birmingham Reshape Themselves

UserWatch has learned that the Birmingham Coroner brought four serious untoward incidents (SUI's) to the attention of the Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Trust Board on 15th November 2006.

UserWatch hears that a Birmingham contact is trying to clarify what kind of incidents these were . They are likely to have been suicides but suicides are classified as out-patient and in-patient (and in receipt of treatment and not in receipt of treatment)

The BSMHT Board notes of Nov. 2006 read : "


The committee received a progress report in relation to the review of Serious Untoward Incidents. The report highlighted that there had been four incidents which were only subsequently identifed through the coroner. The committee has requested further review of how these incidents had been recorded and reviewed to ensure that adequate procedures are in place to identify and monitor all potential serious untoward incidents. "

People in Birmingham may recall Alison Dayani's (Birmingham Mail) article on the late Neil Duggan in earlier in 2006 which importantly showed up shoddy record keeping .

"May 6 2006

By Alison Dayani, Birmingham Mail

AN investigation has been launched over claims that nurses falsified notes and failed to carry out vital checks following the apparent suicide of a mental health patient. Health bosses are looking into allegations that nurses filled out medical records saying they had seen Neil Duggan and checked on him - hours after he was already dead.

The 27-year-old jumped in front of a train at Olton station at 3.47pm on Sunday, March 19. "

UserWatch has had these figures below passed on for your interest in this sad subject . They were obtained originally from the Birmingham Coroner's office .

"2000 - Suicide Male 66 - Female 22 - Open Verdicts Male 43 - Female 19
2001 - Sorry no figures at all the computer had a migraine
2002 - Suicide Male 33 - Female 3 - Open Verdicts Male 41 - Female 12
2003 - Suicide Male 18 - Female 3 - Open Verdicts Male 34 - Female 18
2004 - Suicide Male 27 - Female 5 - Open Verdicts Male 29 - Female 13
2005 - Suicide Male 33 - Female 7 - Open Verdicts Male 35 - Female 13

Hope this is OK - Remember that when all the jigsaw does not fit for suicide the Coroner will record an open verdict. Also, remember that not all the Open Verdicts figures are suicide. Also, the Coroner could have a narrative verdict ie; killed themselves whilst depressed, unfortunately I do not have these figures. "

From the Birmingham & Black Country Strategic Health Authority the figures for (SUI's) suicides recordable by BSMHT in the period 1st Feb 2005 - 16th May 2006 were :

Suicide 6
Suicide (In receipt) 1
Suicide by Outpatient (in receipt) 16
Suicide by Outpatient (not in rec) 2

Total : = 25

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dr Lynne Jones M.P. UK Shows Mental Health Social Inclusion Concerns Re: Letter To Nette Carder Executive Director.

UserWatch has learned that Dr Lynne Jones (Top Picture) the Birmingham Selly Oak UK. M.P. and Joint Chair of The All Party Mental Health Committee for Mental Health has shown written concern in November over the way Mental Health Services are treating the issue of Service Users interests at the Hawkesley Day Centre in south Birmingham as well as other Centres across the city .

She writes to Nette Carder(Bottom Picture) Executive Director of Operations & Social Care , Birmingham & Solhull Mental Health Trust , Trust Headquarters , Unit 1-B1. 50 Summerhill Road , Birmingham B1 3RD

"You will recall that you wrote to me on 5th June to explain about the process of developing existing day services, including those at Hawkesley Day Centre into a new Social Inclusion and Opportunity Service .

I have recently met with service users at Hawkesley Day Centre and it is obvious that there is not only anxiety about future proposals but concerns about the run down of valued services. As you may also be aware, I have received similar concerns with regard to other day centres including Albert Road Day Service (Perry Barr Constituency) and the Main Street Centre (Sparkbrook and Small Health Constituency)

With respect to Hawkesley, it would appear that the assurances given that services would not close until there were suitable alternatives in place has not been honoured. I was particularly concerned to learn that two members of staff have not been replaced and that the counsellor who helps people to ensure they are claiming their full entitlement to benefits only attends one day a week (compared with 5 days previously). This, and the emphasis on work with individuals has meant that at least one group has been disbanded. I was told that two people who attended a Monday morning group no longer attend the Centre and do not appear to be receiving any service . People complain that because groups were no longer functioning , they are being turned away from the Centre because there is inadequate staffing left on the site ..

Whilst I defended very strongly the concept of social inclusion and the need to break down the stigma associated with mental health problems, it was pointed out that this stigma will not be broken down overnight and there remains a need for what was described as "sanctuary" and a "stepping off point" from which people could be helped to "branch out" into the community . Instead people feel that services are being shut down at Hawkesley and they are being forced out into uncomfortable situations ..

Nearly everyone I spoke to felt a a sense of hopelessness at what was happening and mistrust towards the people that appeared to be making the decisions on their behalf . There is a perception that consultation is not consultation at all, merely a process of giving information. It is felt that the transformation that has been brought about in service users lives through their engagment with the services at Hawkesley Day Centre is undervalued by those in authority whereas, for service users, the Centre is "a godsend" and a place of comradeship and safety ..

[Paragraph Section Deleted Here For User Confidentiality]

In relation to service-user led services , people expressed the view that these would not work on a long term basis unless there was ongoing support. I am sure that it is intended that such support should be provided but , if so , it has not been spelt out to service users .

I would like to make the following suggestions :


The two vacant posts should be filled , accepting that the job descriptions will require some flexibility .


Ways should be found to showcase the new opportunities that could be made available to service users. This could involve groups visits to see facilities in operation or the attendance at Hawkesley by service-users who have benefitted from the "social inclusion agenda" .


An audit is undertaken of the services that Day Centre users were accessing at the start of 2006, and a comparison made with the current pattern of enagement. The results should be published (with appropriate removal of information that could identify individuals) and assurances given that follow up audits will be periodically undertaken to inform development of services. This should also apply at Albert Road and Main street


The keeping of adequate records of consultation outcomes so that appropriate scrutiny can take place following service changes ...


I would welcome the opportunity of meeting with Peter Davidson and other relevant decision makers to discuss the way forward . It would also be helpful if the Centre Manager could attend and possible one or two representatives of service users .

Finally I am enclosing copies of written representations that were handed me during my visit . For your information I did emphasise that the mental health budget was growing and that financial considerations were not the driver of changes in service configuration. Co-incidentally, just after our meeting , I received the enclosed letter from the Primary Care Trust about funding the mental health services and I will be passing a copy of this on to service user representatives .

Seperately , I have been informed that there has been a 33% increase over 2 years in the spending by the local authority on mental health services . No doubt, however, there is still much unmet need and any comments the Trust has in this regard would be gratefully received!

Your Sincerely

Lynne Jones M.P.


Sue Turner
Peter Davidson ..

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

North Birmingham Community Arts Secures Its Pitch

North Birmingham Community Arts is Mental Health User led and run. Nearly all of its membership has experienced MH services and some still do .

It secured its pitch to practice arts and create some kind of future at the 610 Community Centre in Kingstanding Birmingham by forking money out from its own purses. Its AGM is on 30th November 2006 at the 610.

The context of MH services has been changing with a lot of emphasis in parts of Birmingham on discouraging Users to use Day Centres. However it appears Users are taking a stand on their own - so UserWatch hears - and the Hawkesley Day Centre with an unfortunate "Top-Down" policy of change, not really guided by Users themselves has seen a bit of a rebellion at last because Users in the area have contacted MP Dr Lynne Jones and she is drawing a line with services to follow by making several recommendations to them - Userwatch will have more to say on this in the next article on these matters...

NBCA itself is partly borne out of a need to keep some control over what Users feel they can do in their own spaces whilst still feeling they have a legitimate right to link back to services and expect some input of support albeit very small ..It might be said that NBCA would have used space within the services themselves but according to the experience of some Users its not been facilitated very enthusiastically. Although at the Phoenix Centre in Harrison Rd Erdington , it appears the regime is relaxed and more supportive than some other Day Centres .

So NBCA has pushed to create safe autonomising space (something the services should have done) in the absence of a form of postive space enablement within the services themselves , and not without stress to all concerned ...This element of stress Userwatch is aware , has been shared across Birmingham by Users .

In the multi-layered dynamic of changing Day Services , a new ethos of "social inclusion" and a debt ridden Trust ( in 2005 - 6 ) looking for ways to ration staff and not employ a full quota of them, the changing services have been pushing Users out and away from them - There have been some victims of stress and ill health because of this .

The partial backlash is evolving to this services paradoxality of stressing Users which often misses the point that many Users (longer term) need special ways to use services without the services trying to disinvent elements of dependency that are perfectly legitimate by virtue of proper recognition of genuine mind and deep personality difference from the more "normal" "functionality" that can go to work and sustain jobs - its that , that just needs supporting more thoughtfully ... Real psychological difference ...

Anything else is a lack of recognition dressed up inside new "social inclusion ideologies" meant to fit everyone regardless of their REAL differences..


Monday, November 27, 2006

The Tragedies Of Justin Murphy Died Aged 13 & Darren Bardsley

A written commentary given to the UserWatch correspondent "PatientGuard" :

"I live in the working class locality where Justin Murphy aged 13 was killed by a hit and run driver who was apparently on Heroin...My partner goes to the Church where so many have been upset and have showed emotional solidarity with the family of the dead child . I've done a picture of sorts as an artist (left) - I feel so moved .

With a history of stealing cars Darren Bardsley aged 32 , father of two kiddies , in the same locality was caught and was sentenced just recently to 8 years .. He had 13 previous convictions....

I cannot join in the usual condemnation . I just can't . I'll tell you why .. I've monitored in a role at statutory level the mental health outcomes and services in North Birmingham UK I have also seen first hand the incredibly harsh and deprived way some kids are brought up to become absolute misfits ....

I've seen a growth in this country of the middle classes and their chances and wealth and their hand wringing often bullshit rationed policies that miss the localities . Ours is one of them - we have poor services .

A policemen nationally put forward the view that its cheaper to supply methadone every year to people dependent on Heroin and more rehab practices because addicts are costing on average £48000 per annum in the UK in lost property to the community ..Holland and the Swiss are leaders in this thinking with successful practice .

I have a razor eye about this and what is true is we had better get real about treating society's misfits because the costs are too high if they are imprisoned or on the loose . Pragmatism says we help them therapeutically find another way of life or face the tragedies to come and the cycle of our own impotent social angers.

God Bless Justine Murphy Aged 13 , The two young children and partner of Darren Bardsley and Darren himself for being who he is that has to alter .. "

See the story about Justin Murphy : HERE

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Horns Of Dilemma In Coventry (£3 a day Cuts Proposals)

Userwatch asks : What is a council to do in Coventry especially when its run by Tories and there are cuts to make . We continue the COVENTRY CUTS STORY HERE..

So off to the officers you go and ask them to identify where cuts in services can be made and mixed within social inclusion New Labour independence-loving social logics ..

Everyone does their job ..

And gets paid ..

After all they are the managers...

And the paid Councillors who happen to be the opposition party really do want "Social Inclusion" a Labour social-logic equation to take hold in Coventry .. Ofcourse they do ....

Yes , they would not wish it to fail would they in a complex but inverted policy of undermining it by overapplication of it too swiftly hoping it might rub off onto the Govt ? Oh . what are we on about , that's too machiavellian......Although the Govt does appear rather Tory anyway and anti working-class .....Sorry we mean "Workless Class"

Yet the proposals to cut £3 a day , to in the main inarticulate people , gets put forward so lets have a look at the consultation story at CROW recycling in Coventry partly supported by Social Care services where the savings of £3k a year were identified in amongst a broad attempt to cut 2 million in Coventry services costs ..

Userwatch is in receipt of the following time line for consultation at CROW recycling :

It is reported to us that on the 24th October a letter was received from the Senior Learning Disabilities manager (SEE HERE FOR SOME OF THE TEAM) about the council's intentions to "modernise" - (the new word for "cuts" )

Service Users at CROW recycling got the letter on the 26th October ..

A meeting for parents and carers was then arranged on the 27th October

By the 31st the full Council Cabinet put for the proposals for cuts which included £3 a day for Users at CROW recycling

Its is estimated that this was about 5 working days .....

Userwatch thinks this part of the process was rushed and should have involved more talks at the Centre level with Users and Carers ......

Userwatch has received information about requests to understand the consultation processes at Coventry :

From a source writing to Coventry Services :

"1) What consultation took place with service users and their carers prior to the report to Cabinet on 31 October 06?

Response: We are consulting now - no decisions have yet been taken – the outcomes of the consultation will be feedback to Cabinet on 12 December 2006.

2) What exactly is the PCT's role in the provision of Coventry's LD service?

Response: Coventry Teaching PCT is now a commissioner of services. Specialist Learning Disability Mental Health services is now part of the Coventry & Warwickshire Partnership Trust.

Health Community Learning Disability services remains as part of Coventry Teaching PCT pending further service developments. The service is not a single integrated health and social care service. It is only partially integrated – e.g. social workers/nurses in community learning disabilities team. There are, however, Joint commissioning arrangements.

3) Is there a Section 31 agreement between Coventry City Council and Coventry Teaching Primary Care Trust for Learning Disability services?

Response: There is a Section 31 Agreement in relation to Learning Disabilities Development Fund – this is a small budget for development – it is not a commissioning or service budget.

4) To what extent does the close working on Learning Disability between Coventry
City Council and Coventry Teaching Primary Care Trust imply a "section 11" Health and Social Care Act duty to consult demonstrably?

Response: We do not consider that there is a Section 11 requirement to consult demonstrably. That said, we are currently consulting and the outcomes of those consultations will be reported through a transparent democratic process. We also take the view that LAs have better track record in consultating on change and that a Section 11 duty (or similar directive) is not required.

5) Could you explain the nature of the involvement of the PCT with CROW ( an NHS body )

Response: CROW is a charitable organisation with a range of funding streams. The Council contracts with it for work based training as outlined in the Cabinet Report . There is no PCT involvement with CROW.

6) Would you please inform what Social Cares involvement is with the PCT broadly
and on the 'Coventry Partnership Board'

Response: There are extensive partnership arrangements with the primary Care Trust from the Coventry Partnership at a strategic city level to joint working in specific social care areas. There are partnership boards for Older People, Mental Health, Learning Disabilities, Children and Young People and Physical and Sensory Impairment. Further information can be gained from the Coventry City Council Website where there are links to the Coventry Partnership and a number of the other partnerships .. "

The asking of these questions also provoked another rather astonishing response which was added as this in a seperate letter Userwatch has seen :

"Please note that most of the information that you request is owned by the Coventry City Council and subject to copyright protection. Under the Re-Use of Public Sector Information 2005 Regulations you are free to use this information for your own use or for the purposes of news reporting. However, any other type of re-use under the Regulations, for example; publication of the information or circulation to the public, will require permission of the copyright owner and may be subject to terms and conditions. For documents where the copyright does not belong to Coventry City Council you will need to apply separately to the copyright holder.

If you wish to apply to reuse the information you have requested or have any other issues
relating to this request please do not hesitate to contact me.

If you are unhappy with the way the Coventry City Council has handled your request, you may ask for an internal review. Please contact the Information Governance Team, who will arrange an internal review of your case. "

Hmmmmm.....A Review ? Userwatch senses more horns and angle mangles in that process ...Perhaps dungeons and torture still exist in Coventry ? Ahhh bureacracy is so lovely isn't it ?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Adult Survivors Sexual Abuse Forum Meeting In Wolverhampton

Userwatch hears the Sexual Abuse conference meeting for adult survivors on Thursday November 9th went well in Wolverhampton and aproximately 55 people attended it .

Jackie Sharrat sexual abuse co-ordinator at the Wolverhampton PCT has produced a thoughtful booklet ( See story HERE ) on how professionals like dentists , doctors, hairdressers and opticians can be helped to be more sensitive to adults who are easily triggered into old trauma feelings . Userwatch will be appraising this booklet when it receives a copy ..

Userwatch can report that it has a copy of a statement from Michele Elliot Director of Kidscape the charity that is involved in prevention of abuse and bullying of Children. Michele edited a book in the past which dealt with issues suffered by adult survivors :

Michele says of Jackie Sharrat's ideas :

"I welcome Jackie's Initiative and only wish there were more like it throughout the country . Adult survivors are a much neglected group and there are so many issues that continue to arise that support is vital . Well done Jackie ! "

Userwatch has heard from several cases in Birmingham of adult survivors of child abuse getting no therapy treatment at all appropriate to helping them with their emotional pain . So its hats off to Wolverhampton for raising the issue meanwhile in Birmingham we await independent Users-reports of useful experiences of therapy for resolving long term emotional pain caused by child abuses of various sorts ..

Monday, November 13, 2006

Councillors To Question "Screwtiny" Cabinet Member

UserWatch keen to learn lessons that can be transfered to Birmingham and Solihull interested Service Users is keeping in touch with the story developing in nearby Coventry where £3 a day cuts by the Council Cabinet have been proposed on Learning Disability Service Users of the CROW recycling facility.

The paltry £3 a day represents what Users can earn as a benefit "disregard" without their benefits being affected.

UserWatch has received an email tonight regarding the Coventry situation from one of the Surrey Campaigners Mr Des Curley , who has been campaigning in a similar situation for a better deal for Service Users who had their £3 a day taken from them in Surrey and Borders Partnership Mental Health Trust only for it to be re-instated by the pressure brought by the campaign.

From that email Councillors of the Labour group in Coventry look set to question the Cabinet member involved in the proposals to cut the £3 a day payment to Service Users at the CROW facility ..

The email to Userwatch reads :

Dear Mr. Curley,

Thank you for your recent e-mail regarding the ceasation of the £15 per week disregard to people with learning difficulties.

I would like to inform you that all members of the Labour Group of Councillors voted against this proposal at the meeting of full Council. In addition to this we have "called in " the item and insisted that the Cabinet Member appear before Scrutiny Co-ordination Committee to answer questions and account for the decision. The meeting will be held at 1-00p.m. on Wednesday 22nd. November and will be held in public, which means that yourself and anyone else that is interested can attend and listen to the debate.

I hope that interested parties do their best to attend.

Yours sincerely,

John Mutton,

Leader of the Labour Group.

See also Coverage of the story at :

Surrey & Borders Campaign

Mandy's Lifeboat News


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Save Our Kwids In Coventry

In a similar theme as the Surrey & Borders Partnerships Mental Health Trust Campaign to reinstate Learning Disability Service Users £3 a day pay , Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health UserWatch notes that in nearby Coventry recently according to Coventry Telegraph reporter Dayle Crutchlow the Council Social Care Services there have cut £3 a day to service users with learning disability who are working at a paper recycling charity enterprise ..

The charity is called CROW and the Director there is Barbara Cowling.

UserWatch has learned from Jeremy Bryce of UkSurvivor's post there that concerned Service Users are already looking deeper into this situation and are asking whether or not Coventry Service Users are being sufficiently consulted before changes and alterations are made to their service delivery levels

UserWatch is aware of a developing theme across the UK and in Birmingham in which services are changing themselves without appropriate and recorded input by Service Users themselves . They appear to be sliding around in an unjoined up arena of little protection for Service Users consultation rights. There appears to be little check and balance on this practice evidenced by a lack of independent Service Users organisations doing some stronger representation on these matters . PPI forums are increasingly weakened too by a limited life and a poor political will to have made them stronger in mental health since "reform" is prized more greatly by Government even though it creates distress amongst some Service Users .

Local passification and compromise of what groups of Service Users get exactly what resources from Trusts appears to be one weakening factor for Independence but the same could be said for any statutory service and Social Care Services too that have the controlling purse strings over Service Users and any of their groups. Its clear Service Users must become more financially independent and less controlled by services to fully have their own voices .

Joan Mulcaster of the Croydon Advertiser first alerted the public to the Surrey situation of Epsom Garden Centre run by the SAPB Trust who took away the £3 a day from those Service Users. It appears we have some patch repetition in Coventry . Will a wider outbreak happen ? Has anyone got any more stories like this ?


Monday, November 06, 2006

Well Done Jackie Sharratt Wolverhampton PCT Mental Health Services

Sexual Abuse Forum Meeting



(UserWatch supports these kind of initiatives below and hopes they expand)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Making health services more sensitive to the needs of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse is the theme of a conference in Wolverhampton next month put on by Wolverhampton PCT Trust

The conference – ‘Sensitive practice for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse’ on Thursday, November 9 –has been organised by the city’s sexual abuse forum following comments from clients that their childhood experiences can sometimes make them feel nervous about attending medical appointments.

Jackie Sharratt, sexual abuse specialist for Wolverhampton City Primary Care Trust and chair of the forum, said: “For adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse appointments with a doctor, dentist, optician, midwife or even a hairdresser may trigger traumatic memories and this, in turn, may lead them to avoid appointments and neglect their health. The conference will look at how services can be more sensitive to the needs of these clients.”

David Bate, from Taylor Biddle Opticians, and consultant midwife Kathryn Gutteridge will give presentations on steps services can take to put clients at ease. David said: “If clients are nervous or apprehensive it is up to us as practitioners to make their appointment as comfortable as possible. Simple things such as leaving the door of the examination room open, or asking a friend to come into the room with the client can make all the difference.”

New booklets - for clients on what to expect at an appointment and for practitioners on how to make appointments less stressful – will be launched at the event.

The conference takes place at Bantock House, Bantock Park, Wolverhampton, 10am-4pm. It is free for service users, survivors of childhood sexual abuse or the unwaged but costs £25 for staff from statutory and voluntary sector organisations. To book a place contact Di Drew on 01902 328978.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Comic Relief Grants For Local Groups - Who Gets The Information First ?

To see this image (left) larger please click on it and your browser should enlarge it

There has been some criticism of the grouping of organisations that met in Birmingham in March 2006 in order to set up a national network of networks of Service User organisations

The meeting was hosted by Together (a charity) and other organisational heads or operatives joined in to try to steer the 129 people claiming to be mainly MH service users into an agreed position to form funding for a national group.

Funding has been pursued from Comic Relief to the tune of 500K over 5 years . There have been complaints to Comic Relief however that this sum represents a lost opportunity of 100 groups each getting the chance to set up from the 5k local offer outlined in Comic Relief's promotional flyer from which the image (left) was taken.

UserWatch has learned that it appears NIMHE were sent this information some time ago but Users in Birmingham were not aware of it through the local Trust and it does not appear to have been bulletined out in flyers created by the Trust financed "User-Voice" . West Mids NIMHE moved to Birmingham earlier in 2006 and actually work in the same building - the Uffculmne Centre. The centre is part of the local Trust..

For further information from Comic Relief phone : 0207 820 5555

Registered Charity : 326568

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Alienation Over Mental Health Zero Policy

Acccording to some Users in the UK Mental Health Services are either disappearing or people cannot use them. In 2006 A Cafe in Luton supporting MH users to "socially include them" has had its financial supports pulled. Userwatch was contacted by a User associated with NIMHE this week who told of a story in which two men were crying in pain in a MH group because they could not get treatments off their Trust that fitted them .

Another User tells of two suicides in quick successsion.

A user on the UK survivors message board expressed great worry that the new rules for accessing the proposed Employment Support Allowance (2007) are so draconian that they will lead to suicides. Userwatch agrees after reading some of the criteria.

We note a theme therefore of radical undermining of mental health Users by all sorts of social engineering tricks which miss the hub of the problem for most Service Users - namely getting the right treatment in the first place . The Daily Mail (24th Oct 2006 ) carried a detailed critique with realitistic patient examples by therapist Oliver James on the superficial wave of CBT skimming the UK as an inadequate gloss-over answer to deeper human pain see : Here

A User of a Day Centre in Birmingham in his late 60's told Userwatch :

"What the fuck is going on with this "Social Inclusion" theory- We have been told to go to college and bid for a place or something , to use our own Centre ..If we have wanted to go to college we would have done that years ago "

Userwatch agrees and was also told by another Birmingham User :

"Too many of fitter "mad" are running "mad" policy for those of us who are "madder" and the Govt is full of psychological escapists anyway .. what chance do we have ? "

Asylum as a concept is pejoratively used by the new "Anti stigma" fashion in the UK and those who wave that flag as a "bad thing".. At the heart of services however there has been little asylum that heals and that is still an unaddressed unmodernised issue. If you are different-of-mind enough do not look to stressed underclass communities to look after you .

Equally the uniform application of new labour "push em out to work" ethos powered up by the brigades of the chosen fitter Users who populate NIMHE and its groups now is another cruelty which misses the individuals that cannot fit into society easily . Userwatch doubts there will ever be a social negotiation with really maginalised Users .. They are after all "represented" by others who have their "voice" even if there is no representational constitutionality in that position.

In other words "New Labour agenda-mis-fitting" Users have disappeared down the same black hole as real reform and Patient Choices of treatments has in mental health . Birmingham UK is no exception . We are all in socially warped space . How is your local health black hole ?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Birmingham Petition Pinches Aidens "Bottom Line"

In a cheeky copycat move by the organisers of the Birmingham UK petition for more local mental health patient democratic mechanisms of representation , one of the organisers a sympathiser of : Kiss It was determined to pinch Aiden's Shingler's "bottom line" for sheer joined-up cheek ..

The organisers explained :

"There is a UK wide and local need to support more action and more autonomous patient voices generated from the bottom-up not the new Top-down mental health hierarchies , because for all the fine rhetoric from the new architects of modernisation , the old controlling mentalities still exist in the NHS bureacracies. Patient power is depressed and even oppressed by in house partnerships with the NHS . We want to see Patient's having independent voices that are not suppressed by the NHS bureacracies . "

Aiden's 1000 signature petition against psychiatric violation was delivered to No 10 on August 10th 2006 and reported by Userwatch below (or see archive) on Oct 8th . The new "Cheeky" crossed bottom gesture originated by Aiden is to "Kiss my Axx" . Bottom Up power has arrived !

On the 20th Oct 2006 the organisers of the Birmingham UK 123 signature petition hand delivered it to the offices of Birmingham M.P. Dr Lynne Jones who sits on the all party mental health sub committee. Copies of the petition have been sent so far to the Independent Regulator "Monitor" of NHS Foundation Trust applicants , and the local Council's Statutory Health Overview Scrutiny Committee . The organisers plan to send a copy to the local Statutory Patient & Public Involvement Forum too and send information to a mental health resource group at Birmingham University UK .

The petition header reads :

"We the undersigned understand that the Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Trust is not planning to have a patient constituency in its proposals for Foundation Status. We feel there should be a separate patient constituency from which representatives can be drawn . We also feel the current in house User Voice mechanisms at the Trust must become completely independent of the Trust and made accountable to a wide patient membership base… "

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Society Guardian Knights Sir Userwatch

Userwatch (Birmingham UK) is indebted to Phil Hoad of the Society Guardian who has run a story in Oct 18th 2006 about UK Mental Health Blogs which include this Blog


Phil Hoad is right to show interest in the tide's begining because Service Users are not taking too much more of promises of better services that according to Prof Nick Bosanquet in his study


Are not happening .

A lot of Users in the community are not getting therapeutic supports they need , core elements of MH services with a theme of custodial care have increased according to Nick Bosanquet and Userwatch adds that the new mental health bureacracies have not shifted the emphasis at all toward "Patient Choices" of treatments and supports to further patient independence in the community. If anything they have diverted useful money which could have actually done that ..

NIMHE alone has cost £65 million in 4 years of operation ..

A new song might go : "Where has all the treatment gone ? Bureau-bypassing ?"

Patient Choice of therapies is crucial for moving toward independence or better creative social contribution as is using patient purchasing power through (the currently impoverished and inaccessible for some ) Direct Payments method and new forms of GP commissioning which lead to a mixed economy approach . Even in Doncaster as Nick Bosanquet points out the CBT therapy pilot did not involve the private sector . Userwatch believes the State sector has to to quality-drive Patient Choice and weed out inadequate service in itself or otherts by patient-satisfaction data .

Userwatch also wishes to point out the Society Guardian missed a dynamic Blog story and evolution of the Surrey & Borders Partnership Campaign to re-instate payments of £3 a day for 179 Services Users which that Trust had taken away from them in a dubious overapplication of a "Pathways To Work" and "Externalisation of Services" ethos . The Campaign was successful.

The Blog link is Here

Finally struggles continue in Birmingham UK to get justice at Day Centres like Albert Rd that Userwatch is aware of have had services altered without lawful Section 11 (Health and Social Care Act 2001) . This matter is not concluded and Userwatch can report activists will hold the services to account (more on this later and see previous stories )

See also JARMI

And Aiden Shingler's campaign against psychiatric violations deserves another mention - Good Luck Aiden ! KISS IT

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Dual Petition - The Duel For The Voice

By the end of this week Userwatch hears the petition group in Birmingham UK asking for both a "Patient Constituency" in the newly proposed mental health Foundation Trust and an independent User Voice with democratically accountable features will be delivered to several chosen parties .

One of them is intended to be Dr Lynne Jones M.P. and apparently others will include the Health Overview Scrutiny Committee at Birmingham Council as well as Monitor the independent regulator for Foundation Trusts .

Interestlingly enough some current members of the User Voice in-house mechanism at Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Trust reportedly agree that they need to become independent. The model exists for a transfer of management from the local mental health Trust that employs them to an arms length source of financing from the local Primary Care Trusts.

The Primary Care Trusts are an arm of the NHS which purchase services from Local Hospital Trusts and they have seperated administrative powers . This is route by which Derbyshire Voice is financed successfully and it has a robuster model of representation of the patient-voice and interests ..

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The "Sidelined" Dec 2004 Day Services Report In Birmingham (Update)

Sue Turner the CEO of the Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Trust in Birmingham UK promised to do an investigation as from June 2006 into why an important Patient & Public Statutory Involvement Forum Report recommending tracking patient satisfaction after any Day Services were altered in Birmingham had never reached her or the Trust Board in early 2005.

The PPI Forums were set up by Govt in 2003 to be independent monitors of the patient's experience and perspective .

Finally as of yesterday on the 10th Oct 2006 Sue Turner's investigation was issued as below.

There are still a number of important concerns surrounding the Trust's willingness to properly create records of patient satisfaction in order to make available means whereby their experience of changing services can be checked deeply enough and independently as was supposed to be done if the Dec 2004 Reports recommendations had been adopted. The Report does not even appear to have been "adopted" by the Board even though Dr Lynne Jones has reportedly written twice now that the recommendation to track the patients own voice after Day Services are changed are simple good practice .

Investigation into the Tall Trees Report (Author Sue Turner CEO)


The Trust Board approved the strategic direction for day care services in 2004. In line with Government policy on ‘social inclusion’ this set out the Trust’s intention to reorganise existing day care services so that people with mental health problems are better able to enter/re-enter work and are supported to enjoy social participation in mainstream community services. The first stage toward implementing this strategy involved the reconfiguration of services known as ‘Tall Trees’ located on our Uffculme site, Moseley.

Fortnightly consultation meetings were held with service users directly affected by these changes from May 2004 through to September 2004. These consultations were facilitated and chaired by User Voice. Proposals were presented to Birmingham City Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the Trust’s own internal patients’ forum, and a range of other meetings/forums. This was the first major service change proposed by the Trust since the inception of Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) Forums.

In September 2004 I met with members of the PPI Forum and Lynne Jones MP to review the Trust proposals concerning ‘Tall Trees’ services and the consultation processes which had been undertaken. At this meeting it was agreed that ongoing consultation with service users was important, but that these should be auditable. As a result, a parallel stream of work and joint discussions were initiated with the PPI Forum to clarify expectations and intentions concerning:

  • Day-to-day consultation with service users.

  • Ongoing auditable consultations with service users about future priorities and changes.

  • Formal consultation processes for significant service changes and developments.

  • How members of the PPI Forum might join internal Trust meetings overseeing social inclusion strategies.

Led by our Executive Director of Strategic Development, aspects of this parallel work was delayed due to her period of ill health (October 2004 – February 2005).

The reconfiguration of services previously based at Tall Trees has been completed and the Board have received two reports (June 2006 and September 2006) detailing the follow-up audits of service users following this.

Specific Issue

In our Board meeting in June 2006, a member of the PPI Forum questioned why a report produced by the Forum in December 2004 had not been acted upon. That report is shown at attachment 1. I have now completed an audit trail and can confirm the following:

  1. The Forum report was emailed to our Director of Corporate Affairs on 20th January 2005.

  1. This was acknowledged on 21st February 2005.

  1. A fuller response was dispatched 22nd February 2005 by our Executive Director of Strategic Development.

  1. The PPI Forum report specifically recommends a follow-up audit of patients who had been attending Tall Trees centre by early February 2005. More generally that auditable consultation should be undertaken in relation to any other proposals to reconfigure day services.

  1. The written response (22nd February 2005) is shown at attachment 2. It confirms:

    • Follow-up audits in February 2005 would be premature.

    • A Project Board and Service User Advisory Group would be established to oversee implementation and follow up.

    • Representatives of the PPI Forum are invited to join the Project Board

  1. The PPI Forum minutes show that the Forum made reference to “auditable consultation’” at their meetings held in February 05, March 05, April 05, September 05 and February 06. In particular, the minute in September 05 states “auditable consultation – the document was adopted at the Trust Board meeting” (September 05). In February 06 PPI Forum minutes make reference to auditable consultation having been carried out on changes in ‘workability’ services.

  1. I have found only one reference to the actual PPI Forum report itself. This was in February 05 where the minute reads “Also concern at the lack of response to the report on Day Care services. Send the report to Jonathan Shapiro, Chair of the Board”. The Forum support officer has confirmed that this did not happen due to the receipt of the letter from our Executive Director of Strategic Development on 22nd February 05.

Assessment and Conclusions

  • Acknowledgement of the report was tardy, and informal.


  • I have agreed with the Forum Support Officer that hard copies of correspondence will be used in the future, and our Trust Board Secretary/Company Secretary will be routinely copied in.

  • The Forum report was not formally received by any of our formal Board sub-committees.

  • The essence of the Forum report has been acted upon.

Further action:

  • PPI Forum minutes will be routinely forwarded to the Trust and reviewed in our Patient Experience Board sub-committee.

  • The recent appointment to our PPI liaison post should avoid any similar reoccurrence in the future.

  • Should there be any outstanding concerns by PPI Forum members these will be raised when they meet with me on a quarterly basis.

Sue Turner

Chief Executive


An email by way of response has been sent to Sue Turner from Paul Brian Tovey , ex Vice Chair of the PPI , and copied into Dr Lynne Jones M.P, In Selly Oak Birmingham UK. , one of the Joint Chairs of the all party mental health sub committee. Essentially the email expresses the concerns of others succinctly enough and has asked to be put as a question to the Board meeting of 11th Oct 2006 :

"In the light of the CEO's investigation does the Board Intend to adopt the good practice of the Day Services Report (Dec 2004) which asks in essence not for staff audit of the patient's voice but in fact an auditable record of the patient's own voice about their satisfaction or not when services are varied and changed around them at Day Centres in Birmingham ? "

Overnight Dr Lynne Jones M.P. backed this position consistent with her concern too and copied Mr Tovey into her response to Sue Turner CEO to his question to put to the Board on 11th Oct 2006 (See Below )

----- Original Message -----
Cc: P Tovey
Sent: Tuesday, October 10, 2006 9:56 PM
Subject: FW: Question To The Board

Could you please let me have a copy of your reply?


House of Commons


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Aiden Shingler Presents The Petition's Bottom Line

Aiden Shingler and Catherine Ingram presented the "KISS IT" petition of 1000 petitioners to No 10 Downing Street on August 10th 2006 .

The serious side of the petition is to bring to public attention the abuses of psychiatry from poor treatment experiences to forced Electro Convulsive Therapy and uses of drugs on patients to make them compliant..

The petition was linked to action on the same day to a group 0f mental health survivors and supporters of the "Kiss It" campaign led by Dr Rufus May who had led a 60 mile hike with a hospital bed which finally arrived at the old site of Bedlam where "lunatics" were "treated".

The combined events have brought attention to the way the State treats people even though it claims to be modernising.

Userwatch is sympathetic to Derbyshire Voice a more genuinely independent and representative version of the "User Voice " than many NHS Trust sponsored in-house mechanisms. Many Derbyshire Voice supporters have supported the "Kiss It" campaign since its beginings ..

See :

Kiss It

Friday, October 06, 2006

"Stakeholder Involvement ? Or Fakeholder Involvement ?

Userwatch has received an email dated 6th October 2006 , to Catherine Underwood :

Head of Commissioning and Contracting Adults of Working Age
Adults and Communities Directorate
Birmingham City Council
Louisa Ryland House
44 Newhall Street
B3 3PL
Tel: 0121 464 5121

The email below puts forward a number of important views and questions the apparent lack of Section 11 (Health And Social Care Act) 2001) consultation in Birmingham UK on certain parts of the Mental Health Day Care Services ..

The original email was copied in to Netter Carder a Director at the Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Trust , To Sue Turner's (CEO) secretary and to the Statutory Forum for Patient & Public Involvement and others ... :

"Dear Catherine

I believe part of the Adult MH Day Care services is adrift of appropriate Sect 11 consultations. I am very concerned that the MH Services co-admined by Social Care and yet under the service provision via section 31 agreement with Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Trust - appear to be chaotically adrift of openly announced Section 11 consultations.

Was the statutory PPI ever involved in being told what Section 11 arrangements were put into place at The Hawksley MH Day Centre ?

The Albert Rd Day MH Centre for instance appears to have had its services varied almost by stealth over some time ; subtracting an activitiy here , and an activity there ...Making it less attractive .

Reducing Service Users numbers and dependency on it . A self fulfilling service prophesy of under-use apparently .

The current broad brush approach for 2006 - 2011 "Commissioning Strategy For Adults Of Working Age " would also appear to be , I am sad to say , democratically perverse.

It has every sign of becoming a substitute for individual Mental Health Day Care Centre Section 11 consultations sensitised to local context and Service Users at specific Day Centres.

The rush to "socially include" and "mainstream" and create a "clubhouse" modernising services is poorly thought out and ideological.

Arising partly from Dr Bob Groves (et al) work involving the Sainsbury's Centre For Mental Health " Pathways to Work" with its initial limits of application placed on those on Incapacity Benefit for up to two years , and with some initial age cut off's involved - we now see a massive overapplication of its theme justified by the "Social Inclusion Unit" and major pushes to shrink down the budget for Mental Health still further ..

Sensitivity of application over these "social inclusion" processes and careful thought has been lost Catherine , in a dash to force national policy onto everyone and bypass the check and balance of what Service Users want individually . Evidence in Birmingham of Service Users wishes is flawed because it hardly exists . Please demonstrate where your MH Day Careservices have carried out properly announced Section 11 consultations involving the PPI monitors on the following locations : Hawkesley Centre , Albert Rd Day Centre , and Main Street Centre .

Fitter users and younger ones may well wish to work . But there are other Users who are being cornered by the false modernisation drive which does not involve better supports and treatments ..Some users are lumped in to the drive to "socially include" and frankly are not fit enough and feel intimidated by the whole process and rarely are their direct voices audited. If you have any evidence of audit then please do share it with the PPI .

My position is very clear : apply social inclusion where people want it , are fit enough , and are actively engaged in that and preserve the asylum value of MH Day Centres because long terms Users need them . "Recovery" is not possible for some . Being permanently different is actually their reality .. Seeing that , is the job made possible by individual Centres following the Section 11 law and recording patients voices properly .

I dont think this is happening properly .

Finally I tried to get a place at the Sapphire Suite (a consultation event on 27th Sept 2006 ) and was told it was fully booked by your Secretary Kath Cunningham . I have now been sent a letter by someone who was there which deeply questions how many Service Users were in presence if at all any.


" ....

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


A political Di-oxide Policy is causing Mental Health Service Users in the UK to get even warmer and some say boiling . A service-choking government policy some Users say , is slowly throttling the services in the UK. The result is "User-Rage"...

It expresses itself in many ways and appears to be less of an intrinsic condition and more of a genuine expression of cumulative service poverty and unmet need .

Userwatch has heard now from several Users in Birmingham , and further afield who are not part of the cherry picked groups that can all gas off together - in a relatively passive atmosphere ofcourse.

Division is all in the U.K. with its class structures that are reflected in all walks of life . The mental health system is no different and its better services are claimed by the more self empowered Middle Class , some Users claim .

An article by a Journalist in 2005 working for "psychminded" , wrote about therapy services in Birmingham and highlighted the disparity of a type of family therapy treatment resource between the more middle class areas of nearby Olton and others areas of Birmingham which the Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Trust has included within its entire service province.

Some Users In Birmingham and further afield cannot get advocacy for claiming benefits or even creating letters because they cannot write as part of their condition. Some claims they need this kind of help to respond back to clinical mis-targeting of their needs ..

Mental Health charities appear to be part of the problem now in the UK. with their eyes on becoming larger and more corporate and receiving more grants . Often Users claim these charities are seeking to create smooth images of representation of Users while agreeing with Govt on policies which are blunt on employment and therapy needs .

A backlash of sorts is happening in the UK. Slowly insight and experience of hopes for better services is being dashed and is gathering force but in the UK most social forces are overcome and socially muffled quite quickly.

The question is will "User Warming" and its symptomatic rage alter UK Government Di-oxide Policy. It all depends on the strength of social gales and how many there are in the next year or so ..User Rage is real enough though , and its been created by social contradictions and some services that no longer meet needs ..

Sunday, October 01, 2006


There are reports that the recent "Consultation" event for "stakeholders" on 27th Sept 2006 at the Sapphire Suite in Birmingham UK lacked Mental Health Service Users .

Userwatch has heard from 3 Service Users in Birmingham with concerns about this event. 2 were told that the event was fully booked and a 3rd reports they knew of Service Users who also were told the event was fully booked .

Userwatch hears this story is going to develop because some kind of joint protest is likely to be made outside of the sticky professionalism that usually acompanies protests that Service Users were not involved . Userwatch can reveal that a report is being prepared which has some details in it of those who attended , and how many spaces and places were empty at the event.

There are some apparent deeper anomalies surrounding this event and the lack of joined up application of Section 11 of the Health & Social Care Act 2001 . There a number of Service Users and others now who are not convinced that there is a solid will to create consultations directly inside "stakeholder" spaces such as Mental Health Day Care Facilities themselves . The obvious choice anyone might think.

One Service User claims : "There is a very slippery approach by services in enfranchising our rights and giving us clear knowledge of time scales in which we could study proposals for change at our own Mental Health Day Centres "

Userswatch is aware that often proposals to vary Mental Health Day Care services are embedded in a fait accompli approach by staff who traditionally have been in charge of the process of institutional change . In the case of vulnerable adults sometimes , carers are not fully involved in learning about service variance or the right of "evidenced" consultation which their areas Overview Scrutiny Committee for Health has a legal duty to uphold ...


Saturday, September 30, 2006


Rumours circulate about there being more therapy supply in Birmingham UK . What is so far the case Userwatch has learned from NHS Board papers is there is a patchy supply across the city.

The local NHS Trust say they : "are recruiting" ....

Strangely enough Userswatch knows they were doing that in 2003-4 and 2005 too. Its also been aware of there only being half a psychologist for use in the north of the city around the impoverished Erdington Highcroft services .

Half a psychologist really means there is one shared between other areas of the city .. This ofcourse was how the triple merged NHS Trust from 2003 managed to balance its books and reduce debt . It simply kept a skeleton service . It had a quarter of of an O.T here or there instead of half or a full one etc .. At least it gives a more anchored meaning to the idea of a fragmented service .......

Some Service Users commented to Userwatch that the NHS Trust kept an intact enough top bureaucracy though and even recalled a "gambling night" revel held in 2004 at the Trust headquarters .

We digress though :

Rumours continue to circulate of there being some Cognitive Behavour Therapy ( CBT ) supply in Birmingham and the Local National Institute Mental Health in England , NIMHE now stationed in Birmingham recently advertised in their "e-letter" the new computerised CCBT for some Service Users to sit down and get their CBT lessons at so they can all get back to work.

No-one has yet said whether empathy-software has been added but Userwatch will report back if it discovers any information . Cognitive Behaviour Therapy claims it locates problems in patterns of thinking that it claims sets up negative patterns of feelings and behaviour.. Its mechanics depend on identifying thought triggers and replacing them with willpower and positive thoughts to avoid any reactivated negative feelings ..

One Service User commented to Userwatch :

"Why can't they do CCPT therapy , yes supplies of Compassionate Caring Patient Therapy would go down well with many of us and its frankly more human "

Friday, September 29, 2006

Kingstanding Gains Foundation Trust Consultation

Userwatch has had sent to it a flyer showing that in North Birmingham Kingstanding UK , a consultation meeting has been gained for the locality after some pressure was applied and requests at a recent Council Overview Scrutiny Health Committee meeting were made directly to the Mental Health Trust who were in attendance there

Userswatch learns that some people in Kingstanding will be making the most of this and making sure the information is shared around as best as it can be . Its a short run in though really because the consultation ends on Oct 23rd and so far there has been paltry information surrounding the advantages and disadvantages of Foundation Trust status for the public to digest ..

Already Dept Of Health estimates show that 85% of patients can be captured in some statistical methods which in turn will be used to control budgets allocated to the new Mental Health FT Trusts.

The stats are based on predictions on how to spend money based on current patterns of spends, yet this is flawed already some Users claim , because some conditions are not at all well catered for and are quite serious though left out of the treament cores which have increasingly become medical model orientated with little option for other types of conditions which are socially caused .

Its clear to Userwatch some conditions are not being catered for and involve high levels of psychic pain and the need for deep therapeutic intervention . Even those conditions on the medical model side cannot get enough "talking therapy" intervention which offers extra ways to navigate and build trust in dealing with emotional pain and the "internal world" of affect as well as how the present day world might collide into that for them

It is estimated by the DoH that 15% of patients cannot be captured properly within its new 13 clusters of predictive typing designed for Mental Health Foundation Trusts leading to a "payment by results" table of patient-types who fall within it - and therefore the others who do not .

So the question needs to be asked :

Are there any advantages to Foundation Trusts in Mental Health .. ? We can say immediately - not for the 15% it appears ..

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

How Were Surrey Service Users Seen? Any Lessons For Birmingham?

Just how were the Surrey Service Users seen at the Garden Centre in Surrey which had £3 a day taken away from them in June 2006 only to have it promised for potential re-instatement (Sept 28th 2006 ) by the CEO of Surrey & Borders Partnerships Trust Fiona Edwards ?

Its clear that the Surrey Justice Blog :

(See index at right : "Surrey & Borders Trust Campaign")

Uncovered that there was a thrust to "externalise" services and to do so intially by denying dependent patients the £3 a day .

The original story by Joan Mulcaster (Trinity Mirror) claimed that the garden work would then be done by the patients for nothing ..

This is reminiscient of some kind of slavery some might argue .

What's also intriguing is the CEO's of Trust's happen to know each other often - so UserWatch hears on the grapevine. They clearly enjoy their lives of socially aranging others "treatment" fates .. So in Birmingham Userwatch wonders are there any lessons to be learned from Surrey ?

Have Users had monies taken away from them ? Have any suffered a real loss in monetary terms ? That's a position that needs looking into . UserWatch will report back with any news on that front when it comes in ...

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Death Of Day Services ?

Userwatch has had material sent to it by a concerned pary regarding one Mental Health Day Centre in Birmingham UK known as the Albert Rd Day Centre in Aston. The Day Centre caters for those with severe and enduring mental health issues.

Apparently some changes appear to have already taken place which have affected Service Users there .

A two page announcement dated Sept. 13th 2006 was placed upon the Day Centre wall. It claimed in its opening lines that (the Centre) :

"Albert Rd Is Changing !! "

It was signed off by a member of staff .

Further on in the statement it claims that the Centre will only be open for two days a week "Monday and Thursday" as from October .

The document appears not so much a lawful consultation as one might expect , but an announcement of a set of activities that are going to happen and everyone will have to fall in and comply . Much of the announcement deals with ideas to "socially include" folk into community activities and the potential to join community groups . What seems to be the strong impression though is that that there has not been a fully joined up consultation with the service users at Albert Rd Day Centre ..

In this regard Userwatch knows of further material dated 18th Sept 2006 , sent to Birmingham City Council to Catherine Underwood of the Social Care Services and Peter Davidson who heads the mental health services , which queries them as to whether a proper consultation has been done .

An email reads :

"Dear Catherine & Peter

There does appear to be some evidence of changes taking place at Albert Rd Day Centre for people with severe and enduring mental illnesses without a full consultation happening . There is a two page announcement from Jane Thakoordin (who works there) who in that document of Sept 13th 2006 announces :

"Albert Rd Is Changing !!! "

And then she goes on to outline changes which involve less access to the Day Centre. Can you clarify the position fully please and explain what consultations you have done with Service Users & public affected nearby ? "

This is not the only alleged pattern of changes of mental health Day Centres across Birmingham which appears to have less than fully open patient & public consultations which should be announced to all concerned under Sect. 11 of the Health and Social Care Act 2001 . In fact it appears to be something of a habit of the services one Birmingham Service User claims who contacted UserWatch

There is another Centre named the Hawksley Day Centre in Birmingham where the patients have been "mainstreamed" and helped to become "socially Included" using library facilities , and there are claims that some are using nearby colleges . Audits for how effective these things are however seem to be thin on the ground. Some keen eyed Service Users feel the flurry of "social inclusion" activity will in fact strain some Service Users and are hoping more sobriety comes to the mental health "social inclusion" services ...

Others are asking : Where are the Day Centre services going ? Will any Centres be left in a couple of years ?

A Question Of Independence .

The petition In Birmingham UK. for an Independent User Voice mechanism as well as for a "Patient Constituency" stands at about 75 so far .

Members of the public have been engaged in the issue because its the services they pay for too.

Mental Health issues though do not often reach the public consciousness although that appears to go along with a lot of disengagement on many issues - until it hits people individually .

But quite why the "User Voice" mechanism who are now mainly paid staff in the Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Trust are running a "consultation" on September 25th 2006 for Service Users with reference to the Trusts bid for Foundation Status appears to be fraught with a certain paradox .

The Trust have not optioned a "Patient Constituency". Whether or not the "User Voice" mechanism which is paid for by them will even mention this specific matter remains to be seen . "UserWatch" will report back for your interest .

You might have thought that long term patients of the Mental Health Trust with cyclical problems over years would have especially been contacted with regard to the option of a "Patient Constituency" for their expertise on "Bi-polar" or "Psychotic" patterns of distress and tidal recovery and crisis . They were not however as a policy of individualising contact as far as UserWatch can ascertain . Equally there are some patient's UserWatch has had contact with dangling with hardly any services who have been disordered by the pain of their backgrounds .

Its another group that do not appear have not been engaged in any realisitic way ...