Monday, 30 March 2015

FOI request to Paul Gray CEO of NHS Scotland about Geoff Huggins' role as a dementia ambassador [updated]

Letter sent 30 March 2015 to Mr Paul Gray, CEO, NHS Scotland and Director General Health and Social Care, Scottish Government, an FOI request regarding the dementia ambassador role of Mr Geoff Huggins, Acting Director for Health and Social Care Integration.  Followed by response from government:

Strapline: FOI Request: Geoff Huggins dementia ambassador role, expenses, experience; his civil service job remit, range, responsibilities, expected outcomes 

"Dear Mr Gray 

This is an FOI Request.

I have noticed that Geoff Huggins is travelling the world as a dementia ambassador for Scotland, tweeting and speaking out as an expert on the subject.  I thought Mr Huggins wasn't qualified in this area and was only a civil servant who had dabbled in mental health matters.  

I am wondering why Mr Huggins has been given this portfolio when he does not appear to have the experience or qualifications for the job.  Please forgive me if I'm missing something.  I have met Mr Huggins on many occasions in the past and wasn't aware of any expertise in the area of dementia. 

  • can you please list the events that Geoff Huggins has attended over the last year, nationally and internationally, which have had a dementia focus and where he has been a speaker on dementia?
  • I would like to know the cost of sending Mr Huggins to these events on dementia: travel, accommodation, any other expenses
  • can you please tell me what qualifications Mr Huggins has in terms of dementia, working with older people, medical, biomedical or otherwise?
  • to give me an understanding of why Scottish Government is sending Geoff Huggins as a dementia representative to global events, can you please let me know the remit and range of Mr Huggins' post in the Health and Social Care integration: a job description, objectives, process, outcomes, and anything else that will help me to understand why Mr Huggins is an ambassador for dementia
  • Alzheimer Scotland conference promo
  • I noticed that Alzheimer Scotland has Mr Huggins as the main speaker on their promotional material for their forthcoming conference.  Is this because Scottish Government is a major funder of AS?  Does this mean that AS is obliged to have a government spokesman there?  I noticed also that Hugh Masters was taking part.

The reason I have felt compelled to ask these questions is because I think that Mr Huggins at the helm of the mental health division was not a successful manoeuvre.  I have to be honest.  There was far too much targeting of health boards and not enough keeping an eye on what was really going on at the grassroots to patients, carers and service users.  The customers of the mental health service.  To our detriment.  I can testify to this.

I witnessed the national mental health service user group being used as a focus group by Mr Huggins and his team.  As if the people with lived experience, the real experts, were there to serve government rather than the other way around which should have been the objective.  I think that these behaviours were unhelpful and even damaging to the fabric of the user/survivor work in Scotland.  It caused division, setting some against others.  And did nothing, I contend, to create a level playing field or straight paths so that ALL voices could be heard.

I look forward to an acknowledgement that you have heard my request and to receiving the information I have asked for, so as to make sense of Scottish Government's civil service sending Mr Huggins out as a dementia ambassador.

Yours sincerely,

Chrys Muirhead (Mrs)"

[my opinion of Mr Huggins involvement in dementia events globally?  a recipe for disaster, based on his past credentials, promoting early diagnosis and having to backtrack.  I think they should get some real experts involved as ambassadors: people who are experiencing dementia, from the service user or carer perspective, on a daily basis, in the here and now.  These are the people with an interesting story to tell.  Not the civil servants at the top of the tree.]

Response from Colin Brown, Deputy Director, Office of the Director General and Chief Executive NHSScotland, on 31 March 2015, acknowledging FOI Request:

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