Sunday, May 13, 2007

History : The Pioneer "User" Voice For Mental Health Social Care Day Centres In Birmingham

It might be sobering to realise for those in the Mental Health community of the Birmingham And Solihull Mental Health Trust that a "User Voice" long ago appeared in the shape of the "Pioneer Voice". Michael Elvin mental health patient and Chair of the PPI Forum in 2004 who died in 2006 was prime mover in this.

On the left we see a front cover dated 1994 . Its clear historically that this "Pioneer Voice" was not sustained well by the Social Mental Health Day Care Services themselves.

Michael Elvin was correct in believing that unless the health bureacracies feels safe with a group they can control they will not support them . Instead they will undermine them in subtle ways where the evidence is hard to obtain ..

UserWatch confirms this tendency.....

The Law in the shape of the 2001 Health And Social Care Act, about Mental Health Day Centre consultations over service changes, had altered the balance of power to include Social Care Day Centres like the one Michael Elvin had attended - provided the NHS had entered into a joined up contractual managment agreement usually oulined as the "Section 31 Agreement". Birmingham And Solihull Mental Health Trust and Birmingham City Council had such an agreement from Oct 2003 .

But did this make a difference in Birmingham in 2005-6 . No . As this article is written the services (Social Care and the Birmingham And Solihull Mental Health Trust ) were both finally caught with their pants down with evidence supplied that service changes happened at Social Care Mental Health Day Centres without consultation and they were signficant enough to distress a number of Service Users .

The evidence intially was with the Service Users themselves but later it became available to an M.P.. The Overview Scrutiny Committee at the Birmingham City Council responsible for viewing changes in services, demanded in 2007 more evidence of concerns expressed in 2006 by Service Users.

Astonishingly the OSC did not have it and appeared not prepared to investigate on their own behalf . The PPI Mental Health Forum also was very slack in 2005 - 2006 in chasing up what was happening and recording it from the patient's perspective . That was astonishingly and ultimately left for Mental Health Service Users to do

Criticism is deeply deserved of all those bodies involved above that did not protect the simple right of patients to have consultations over changes in their Mental Health Day Care services - that they experienced were "significant" ..

Neither was there any protection given from the Birmingham And Solhull Mental Health Trust's internal and Trust paid "User Voice" mechanism. which has been criticised for its lack of independence . In truth all of the PPI (Patient & Public Involvement) mechanisms failed patients (Service Users). This story has yet to run fully because we hear there are to be further developments in June 2007 which we will report on later ..


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