I believe there can be problems with family members working in the same psychiatric setting as nurses or managers (or doctors although that is likely very rare) eg father and son, mother and daughter, husband and wife etc.
if a patient or carer raises concerns or a complaint about the
unprofessional behaviour of a nurse or manager then this can impact on
future care and treatment of the person. Especially if a culture of
intimidation and abuse already exists in a psychiatric hospital.
For example. If a nurse
in an acute ward was involved with an incident of restraint on a patient
which resulted in the patient being injured and transferred to the
locked ward where his wife worked as a nurse, then the treatment of that
patient and their carer might be compromised.
I suppose it is
understandable that a person will want to protect their family member. I
know what that is like. However, in my opinion, there is no
justification for dehumanising treatment and using force, for bullying
mothers and carers, for denying basic human rights to psychiatric
patients, for using locked seclusion rooms with no toilets or drinking
Clinical managers in
psychiatric settings where there is a history of family members working
as nurses or other professionals have to be extra vigilant to ensure
that complaints about practice are investigated independently and
thoroughly. It also should apply where clinical managers themselves
have family members working in the same medical discipline and
I believe that
comprehensive feedback processes and procedures will help with
transparency so that all patients and carers can speak openly and
truthfully about what their inpatient treatment was like without fear of
repercussions. Like customer feedback in other settings.
The Patient Opinion
website can help with this, in my experience. Although it's only a
start. All health boards should have their own feedback systems and
complaints processes that make it easy for people to give positive and
negative feedback on their experiences of NHS services.
This is particularly
important in psychiatric and mental health services where people can be
compelled and coerced to take treatment, against their will, under law.
Where phrases like "non-compliant" and "without capacity" can be used
to justify the use of coercion and the denial of a person's wishes, even
if written previously in an Advance Statement which is not a legal document.
is another important safeguard under the Mental Health Act which
unfortunately, I think, has lost its power and is a postcode lottery, in
terms of whether a person can access good quality advocacy when
necessary or can only get a tokenistic service, 9-5, Mon-Fri, with
workers on low wages, managed by a service provider, paid for by
Another safeguard is the Mental Health Tribunal
but in my experience this has been weighted in favour of professionals
and is rarely won by patients and their advocates. To win a case
requires a good solicitor, supportive carer and an MHO who is on the
side of the patient. The latter is also rare, in my experience.
However despite the MH
Act appearing to be more of a tool for the professionals rather than a
protection for the people labelled with "mental disorder", and respect
for their carers, I will continue to speak out and have a voice, to
bring about balance, for the sake of justice.
"There will be justice ... when those who are not injured are as outraged as those who are" Thucydides