Saturday, 26 July 2014

'NHS chief rejects fears over safety of patients' Herald article and my comment published

OUTSPOKEN: Professor June Andrews said managers and politicians were colluding to present an unrealistic picture of hospitals. Picture: Tony Marsh
Professor June Andrews

'NHS chief rejects fears over safety of patients' by Helen Puttick, Herald Health Correspondent, Thursday 24 July 201:

"The head of the Scottish NHS has defended the safety and honesty of the service after a top nurse described a conspiracy of silence which conceals dangers in hospitals.

Paul Gray, director general for health and social care in Scotland, said he did not object to people like Professor June Andrews, a renowned dementia expert, raising concerns."

"Ms Andrews, director of the Dementia Services Development Centre at Stirling University, spoke out in The Herald last month over her concerns that people were being given a false picture of hospital care.

She said: "Managers and ­polit­icians are in a painful situation where they have to collude in an attempt to present to the public a picture of hospitals that is completely unrealistic. 

"The Scottish Government already knows that there are some problems in hospitals but it is not generally known what the scale of the problem is. We need a more open discussion about the fact that a hospital is not a safe place."" 

"Describing the way some hold back from speaking out, she said: "A relative or patient sometimes worries whether they'll be victimised. They just want to get away.

"A whistleblower really has to consider whether they have the time, and resilience to undertake that act. They need to consider whether their own delay in blowing the whistle means that they are personally compromised and to blame. Who is going to through the first stone? 

"A responsible commentator has to consider whether bringing down a minister or a government through critical comment of the health system guarantees that the next minister or government will do it better.""

My published comment:

"I am a mother of two sons with mental disorder diagnoses/labels, an unpaid carer, also a mental health writer, activist and campaigner who speaks out about human rights issues in psychiatric settings. Unfortunately I can testify to being excluded from Scottish patient safety meetings, the reason given that if I attended then "others" wouldn't. I was told this by a Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) senior worker, formerly a Scottish Government senior worker, in an Email in May. I have since had letters about this topic from Dr Denise Coia, chair of the HIS board, and consultant psychiatrist, which tell me nothing much about why I am not being included and have not answered any of my questions.

It seems that there is a culture of a lack of transparency in government funded healthcare bodies and a lack of accountability to the public, to patients, to unpaid carers and mothers. It is nice to hear that Rab Wilson, former NHS worker, likes Paul Gray. However I am looking for more evidence as to Mr Gray's intentions and actions. What is he and other senior government ministers and managers doing to ensure transparency, safe healthcare practices and that people speaking out will not be at risk of bullying, intimidation and exclusion?

I am looking for actions not just words. I am looking for feedback from customers, the people who use health services, as to there being real improvement, real transparency and real freedom to speak out with a critical voice. I don't have to "like" the people in highly paid healthcare positions but I do want to have trust in what they are doing and to have an expectation that their words are leading to positive action."

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