Wednesday, 8 April 2015

my complaint about staff nurse at Stratheden Hospital is being handled by NHS Fife Patient Relations department [updated]

[updated 8 April 2015 with another letter from NHS Fife Patient Relations department which contains more points for investigation]

I was encouraged to see that the points I raised over the phone with the Patients Relations Officer were taken seriously and added to the mix.



On 25 March 2015 I raised a complaint with Graham Monteith, Manager of Mental Health Services, NHS Fife, about a staff nurse who accosted me on Sunday, 22 March in the Ceres Centre shop, Stratheden Hospital, and then, together with another psychiatric nurse, reported me to the police on the Monday 23 March who visited me on the 25th.

This staff nurse had been my son's Named Nurse when he was unreasonably treated in the Stratheden IPCU in February 2012.  Therefore she knew me well and had been one of the nurses who used to roll their own cigarettes in the ward, in front of the patients.

[see blog post about this incident: 'misuse of power', 27 March 2015]

Strapline: a complaint about a staff nurse who accosted me on Sunday in the Ceres Centre shop, Stratheden Hospital 

"Dear Mr Monteith

Ceres Centre notice board Stratheden
I am writing to you to make a complaint about Staff Nurse ...........  (SN ..... was my son's named nurse when he was an inpatient of the Stratheden IPCU, February 2012)  SN ...... accosted me on Sunday 22 March 2015 in the Ceres Centre shop at approximately 12.30pm and accused me of digitally recording patients.  I was taken aback by her accusations and refute them absolutely.  I recognised her at the time and remembered her name later.  I am not happy at being targeted in this way.

The reason I am raising the complaint at this point in time is because I have just had two police officers in my home, in response to my name being given to them by two psychiatric nurses in Stratheden Hospital, accusing me of photographing patients.  The PCs told me that the complaint was made on Monday this week.  The two nurses said that a paranoid patient thought that someone was taking photos of them on the Sunday.  From the description given the nurses worked out it was me.  Gave my name to the police, and that of my son.  The police officers looked up my details and came to my door at 4.30pm this afternoon.  

I was upstairs having a lie down, resting a sore leg.  My son let the police officers into my house.  I limped downstairs to speak to them.  I took their details and they took mine.  I told them about SN ..... accosting me on Sunday.  I said that I do not take photos of patients or nurses and neither do I record them speaking.
I showed the police officers my Stratheden Blog, the post about my Sunday walkabout the grounds.  I also showed them the posts from 2012, the cigarette butts everywhere, the newspaper articles about the "Land that time forgot", and my other blogs, including Mad in America where I have a presence.  I told them I was a writer, activist and human rights campaigner, an advocate for mental patients.  I recounted something of my son's dehumanising treatment in the Stratheden IPCU in February 2012.

The PCs said that they accepted my explanation and there was no need to take it further, that I was free to walk around Stratheden Hospital grounds. 

I am assuming that one of the two psychiatric nurses who made the accusation was SN ........  At the time that SN ..... confronted me I was speaking to the RVS shop volunteer.  (I used to work with WRVS in Kirkcaldy, 1999/2000, as a Youth Project Manager)  There were no patients or any other people in the shop at the time.  SN ...... came in to the shop on her own and came right up to me.

I wish to make it clear that I do not take photos of patients and do not digitally record patients.  Neither do I take photos of nurses even when I have seen them smoking on hospital grounds.  On occasion patients speak to me when I am walking round the Stratheden grounds, sharing stories.  It is always a two way conversation.  They speak to me and I speak to them.  

Here is the storify of my tweets from Sunday, for your information:

I hope that my complaint will be listened to and taken seriously.  I am not happy at being accosted by SN ........ and accused of something I did not do. You will notice from my tweets on the storify that I mentioned being taken aback.  

In the last 3 years I have often walked around Stratheden Hospital grounds taking photos and blogging about it.  This is the first time that I have been accosted by a nurse in all that time and I have taken many, many photos, of various scenes, often publishing them in my blogs or in tweets. 

I look forward to hearing from you that my complaint has been received.  I am copying in various others, for their information and as witnesses.

Yours sincerely,

Chrys Muirhead (Mrs)"


I received a response from Mr Monteith on 26 March 2015:

"Dear Mrs Muirhead

Thank you for your email. I am forwarding your complaint to NHS Fife Patient Relations Department who will be in touch in due course.

Yours sincerely

Graham Monteith"


A letter dated 27 March 2015 was sent to me by the NHS Fife Patient Relations Department saying that they had received my complaint.  Here is the list of points that the Patient Relations Officer was proposing to look into:
  • Was it considered appropriate and acceptable for SN ...... to approach you?
  • On what grounds did SN .... make the decision to approach you?
  • What evidence did SN .... have indicating that you were digitally recording patients?
  • Was it considered appropriate to notify the Police of the situation?
  • What are the rules and guidelines regarding taking photographs on the grounds of Stratheden Hospital?
First page of letter:

Upon receipt of the letter I phoned the Patients Relations Department of NHS Fife and asked to speak to the Officer mentioned in the letter.  I wanted to discuss the points that were mentioned and to raise other issues or points that might or should be considered.

In particular there were a few points that I thought were important: firstly the fact that the SN who accosted me was a person who knew me well, having been my son's Named Nurse in the Stratheden IPCU, February 2012, at a time when my son was being dehumanisingly treated, locked in a seclusion room, no toilet, water to drink, light switch outside, in the dark, overnight, broken hand untreated.  

I contend that the fact the SN knew me was a factor in her confronting me and then in reporting me to the police.  Psychiatric patients who are experiencing "paranoia" or extreme anxiety may often feel that they are being watched or filmed.  However I have never heard of psychiatric nurses acting upon these allegations by patients.  Why did this SN do so on Sunday and then go further by reporting me to the police on the Monday?

Secondly the police officers had mentioned that two psychiatric nurses named me.  And this happened on the Monday, a day after I had been accosted.  Therefore I suggested that this should be looked at.  Why it took a day to act and to call the police.  Was the other nurse a key player in perpetuating the action? 

Thirdly the fact that my son's name was mentioned to/by the police.  I know this because one of the police officers called my son by his first name.  Did the two psychiatric nurses name both my son and I when they were reporting me?  And why did they think this appropriate action?  What were the motives and reasoning for targeting a mother and her son?

Finally I want to draw attention to the fact that I have anonymised the identity of the staff nurse who accosted me even when she did not accord me or my son the same courtesy.  I try to behave professionally and responsibly even when NHS Fife staff do not. 

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