Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Letter to NHS Fife General Manager about new build IPCU and bullying culture at Stratheden Hospital - Updated with response

[updated with response from General Manager, NHS Fife, dated 1 March 2015]

"Dear Chrysler

Thank you for your email.

We are planning to hold the events in May. As you will have noted in the document the business case requires to be approved by the Capital Investment Group at the Scottish Government which next meets on the 7th April 2015, therefore we cannot finalise any events until after that date.

I note your request to attend a briefing session I will ensure you are notified of the dates.

Kind regards



Here is a letter just sent to the NHS Fife General Manager Mary Porter, copied in to others:

Strapline: The Reprovision of the Intensive Psychiatric Care Unit, Report to the Board 24 Feb15 - the bullying culture at Stratheden Hospital - freedom to speak out

"Dear Mary

I am writing to you about the new IPCU building planned for Stratheden Hospital, and in particular to do with the document, which has your name on it, presented to the board at the 24 February 2015 meeting: 'The Reprovision of the Intensive Psychiatric Care Unit':

Firstly, I would appreciate if you could let me know, in person, by Email, when the "Public Information Events" are planned, as mentioned at point 6:

The operational group has public representation. Public information events are planned once the Business Case is approved.

I would not want to miss the opportunity to attend one of these events through not having the information about them.  My son Daniel will also want to be present at an information event about the new IPCU building.  I think it's important for both of us to be included and not to be missed out.

Secondly, I am concerned about the phrase in the document "The design of the new accommodation has been strongly influenced by clinical staff.".  Because it doesn't say that the design has been "strongly influenced by patients, carers and people who have engaged with the IPCU in the past".  I believe that the "customers" of psychiatric services are just as important as the service providers.  After all, without us you wouldn't have a service, or a job I suppose.

Finally, I wanted to express my disappointment that I have not been included, up to this point, in any discussions or meetings about the new IPCU build or about improvements to nursing practice in Stratheden Hospital.  In the report from SPSO, following my complaint about the treatment of my son in the Stratheden IPCU, there was a statement on page 10, paragraph heading "Significant Event Review":

"During our investigations, the Adviser raised some concerns about the Significant Event Review carried out by the board .... the report lacked transparency in relation to how these conclusions were reached .... he would have expected to have seen a more systematic approach. ... He also said that he had not seen any evidence of parent/carer involvement in the process ..."  I have screenshot the piece from the SPSO report and attached.

The point I am making is that neither my son nor I have been invited to any NHS Fife clinical management meetings to discuss the failures in his treatment and care during February 2012, and our suggestions as to how it might have been handled differently or how practices may be improved in the future.  Neither of us have been involved at any stage of the IPCU new build planning.  I think it would have demonstrated good will on the part of NHS Fife to have attempted to meaningfully involve us in the decision-making process.  Rather than keep us as spectators on the outside.  That doesn't look good to anyone who is watching the state of play.  In my opinion.

The fact is that the IPCU was declared "unfit for purpose" by the Mental Welfare Commission years ago, as far as I understand it, and NHS Fife did not act upon this declaration.  Whether due to lack of funds or poor management of resource, or a combination of the two, plus inappropriate, and on occasion abusive, nursing practices, that is up for discussion.  What I do know is that the culture in the Stratheden IPCU has not been a positive one, because I have heard other feedback from patients about it.

Just because the MWC had no negative feedback on record did not mean that the patients and carers were happy about the state of affairs in the Ward 4/IPCU regime.  I expect they feared to say anything because of the repercussions of doing so.  What might happen to them or their relatives if/when they had to enter the ward again as a patient.  They might be, and no doubt would be, at risk of retaliation for speaking out.  And get worse treatment than before.

I know that the threat of Ward 4 has often been used by certain nurses in Lomond Ward to manage the patients.  I have heard it from many sources, over the years, and my son experienced it.  I can name the nurses.  The bullying culture at Stratheden Hospital really does have to end, for the sake of the patients, their carers and family members.  It has gone on for far too long.  The people of Fife who find themselves engaging with Stratheden psychiatric services should have the freedom to speak out if they are unhappy with the service, without fear of retaliation.  

I hope that you will respond to this Email and keep me in the loop about the new IPCU public information sessions.  I also hope that you will listen to my critical feedback and take it seriously, in terms of ensuring that any improper or bullying behaviour by Fife psychiatric nursing staff will not be tolerated. 

I am copying in Jim Leiper, Director of Estates, Graham Monteith, Acting General Manager in Mental Health, and Allan Burns, Chair of the Board.  And I will be putting this Email into a blog post for others to see, plus any responses that I receive.  In the interests of transparency.

Yours sincerely,


SPSO Review Letter 26 September, page 9-10


Link to SPSO Decision Report on my complaint, online December 2014

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