Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Letter to Kenny MacAskill MSP: "what is the impediment to the MWC investigating psychiatric abuse?" 31 March 2015

Kenny MacAskill MSP second left

Letter sent in an Email to Kenny MacAskill MSP (who responded with a "Thanks") after watching him ask a question at the Public Petitions Committee meeting this morning, on the live link.  [see Parliament TV]  

Copied in to other committee MSPs and Andrew Muir:

Strapline: what is the impediment to the MWC investigating psychiatric abuse? Public Petitions Committee today, 31 March 2015

"Dear Mr MacAskill

I am a 62 year old mother and grandmother, and have just been watching
Andrew Muir PE1550
Andrew Muir's presentation of evidence for his petition: Mental Health Act inquiry, at the Public Petitions Committee.  And I wanted to respond to your question about the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland and the impediment to their investigation of psychiatric abuse.

Please forgive me for butting in but this is a topic close to my heart, following the psychiatric abuse of my youngest son in the IPCU of Stratheden psychiatric Hospital in February 2012:

Prior to my son's incarceration I was in regular contact with the MWC, knew the CEO Dr Donny Lyons personally, and had even been invited by Donny to speak at a Zero Tolerance consultation event run by the MWC in September 2011, COSLA, Edinburgh. 

Despite my personal relationship with the CEO of the MWC it did not help my son or I when he was a inpatient of the Stratheden IPCU in February 2012.  The Commission did not have any negative feedback from patients about the IPCU ward conditions, about the seclusion room with no toilet or drinking water, light switch outside, and patients getting locked in there for hours at a time, overnight, unobserved.  Why?  Because the patients either would fear the repercussions of speaking out or because the patients thought that was the expected treatment.  It was the status quo and they had no choice but to accept it.  Many of the patient were ex-offenders and used to say to my son and I that prison was far better than the Stratheden IPCU. 

Fife has no independent advocacy in mental health since 2009 when the local groups lost their contracts and Fife Council, together with NHS Fife, awarded the contract through a tendering process to a learning disability service provider, Circles Network, from Warwickshire, England.  Advocacy should be free from conflicts of interest otherwise it is in danger of being compromised.  I have campaigned against the lack of independent advocacy in Fife since May 2009. 

My son and I found that the MH Act safeguards were not safe in February 2012 when he was an inpatient of Stratheden IPCU.  The MH Tribunal was unbalanced, weighted towards the professionals.  The MH Officer was on the side of the system.  The Adult Protection Investigation report which I raised, led by Fife Council, tried to put the blame on me for causing my son psychological harm when he was an inpatient.  My son was 28yrs old at the time.  An adult with capacity.  I advocated for him at clinical meetings in the ward because he asked me to.   

The nurses forcibly injected my son with 25mgs of Haloperidol in the locked seclusion room, Feb12, after my son had staged a dirty protest when they did not let him out for the toilet.  Human rights abuse.  The nurses bullied me on occasion and made it very difficult for me to visit my son in the early days of his detention.  But I persisted and stood my ground. 

My son eventually tapered the Haloperidol with my support, within 6 months or so, in 2012, after discharge in the April.  We had to pick up the pieces after psychiatric abuse with no support from nurses or social work.  Only the occasional appointment with a psychiatrist.That is the reality of experiencing psychiatric abuse and then exposing it to the world.  I am now a fully fledged writer, activist and campaigner in mental health matters because of my family's experience of psychiatric abuse.

Yours sincerely, 

Chrys Muirhead (Mrs)"

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:

Sunday, 29 March 2015

we need more psychiatric survivors speaking out in Scottish Parliament

I have been concerned for some time that we are not hearing the voices of psychiatric survivors speaking out in Scottish Parliament at debates on mental health.  Rather we have an MSP who is a psychiatrist and other MSPs who are carers but no-one speaking out as an "expert by experience", from the position of having been a mental patient or psychiatric inpatient, a person with a "mental disorder" label.

That's what is lacking, in my opinion.  The real voices of experience.  People who have been at the sharp edge, of mental distress and forced drug treatment.  Who have survived the experience and live to tell the tale.  Some of us may have made a complete recovery and left the label behind, yet it still sits in our notes like a spectre at the feast.

This Tuesday in Scottish Parliament at the Public Petitions Committee there are two items of interest.  And I will be watching via the live link on the internet as I'm out of action due to a sore leg.

The first item of interest is the Sunshine Act for Scotland Petition PE1493 from Dr Peter J Gordon, the third time his petition is being considered.  Dr Gordon is a consultant psychiatrist, a questioning doctor and a person who has experienced mental health challenges.

Open and transparent from omphalos

Here is a link to Dr Peter Gordon's Hole Ousia website and his writings, films, the history and submissions of his petition: A Sunshine Act for Scotland

The second item of interest is the new petition on Mental Health Act inquiry PE1550 by Andrew Muir on behalf of Psychiatric Rights Scotland:

"Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to set up a public inquiry into historical cases of abuse of people detained under the Mental Health  (Scotland) Act 1984 and the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003"


Live link to Public Petitions Committee meeting, CR4, James Clerk Maxwell Room at Scottish Parliament.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

nurse practice training, monitoring, evaluation @nhsfife: what evidence of improvement Stratheden Hospital since Feb12?

old IPCU Stratheden Hospital
It's now been over 3 years since my son was subject to dehumanising treatment in the Stratheden psychiatric Hospital IPCU, Fife, in February 2012, and 6 months since I had my complaint against NHS Fife upheld by the Scottish Public Services Ombudman, in respect of "unreasonable treatment", in September 2014.  

There were also issues in Lomond Ward, Stratheden, on 1 February 2012 which led to the IPCU incarceration, and in March 2012 I had to raise further complaints about the nursing staff in Lomond, many of whom did not seem to care for patients as human beings.  I saw that the patients were at risk and had to keep a close eye on my son until he was discharged.  The staff appeared entrenched and clinical management defensive.

A catalogue of poor and bad practice that I was a witness to, and also subject to, when bullied by nurses and badmouthed in clinical notes written by nurses in the IPCU.  They even tried to put the blame on me in an Adult Protection Investigation, headed up by Fife Council Social Work staff.  When the real culprit was a failed system, poor monitoring and evaluation of nursing practice and patient safety.  A building "unfit for purpose" and staff who were in the habit of using dehumanising practices over a long period of time, unchecked.  A locked seclusion room, no toilet, water to drink, light switch outside, patients unobserved for hours at a time overnight.  Bullying and abusive behaviours.  And a cover-up by management who I hold to be ultimately responsible for the culture at Stratheden Hospital.

[I want to say, as a counterpoint, that I have experienced the psychiatric nursing at Carseview Centre, Dundee, from the carer perspective in 2012/13, and had no complaints.  The NHS Tayside mental health nurses, in the hospital and community, have behaved professionally and compassionately.]

In 2010 I had raised a number of concerns about the nurse practices and behaviours in Lomond Ward, Stratheden, to both NHS Fife and Scottish Government, not taking them to a complaint.  (at that point I had no experience of the IPCU)  I met with clinical nurse managers and with managers from OT and clinical psychology, in Stratheden, in both 2010 and 2011, to discuss my concerns.  But they didn't seem to listen properly to the issues I raised, to my suggestions for improvement, or to act upon them.  The OT head said she wasn't into "micromanagement" and the psychology head said she had no authority in Stratheden Hospital.

In 2011 I was asked by the Mental Welfare Commission CEO Donny Lyons to
speak at their Zero Tolerance Consultation event in Cosla, Edinburgh, from the "lived experience" perspective, having been a mental patient myself.  Here is Dr Lyons Email invitation from August 2011, after I had asked about travel expenses:

I told Dr Lyons that I had no experience of patients assaulting nurses but had experience of being assaulted by nurses, forcibly injected with psychiatric drugs, against my will.  To which psychiatrist Dr Lyons said:

"Just to point out – this is not about patients allegations of being assaulted by staff. I made that clear before. If I experienced that as a patient, I would have the right to make a complaint to the hospital and the police. There is a whole other issue about use of force under mental health legislation that the act and code of practice are not particularly helpful with and we have this issue or our radar too."

However he did say "Feel free to be forthright and even controversial!" and so I spoke out from personal experiences on the day, at which NHS Fife clinical nursing staff were present.

On 1 February 2012 when my son was face-down restrained, got a broken hand, was forcibly injected with Midazolam and transported in his underpants and bare feet to the Stratheden Intensive Psychiatric Care Unit (IPCU) I phoned the Mental Welfare Commission to ask for feedback on the IPCU and was told there was no negative feedback from patients or carers.  However I was soon to find out that this meant nothing in terms of patient safety and the MWC being an efficient watchdog.  It didn't mean that no news was good news.  It meant that they hadn't uncovered the human rights abuse of mental patients going on behind the closed doors of the locked ward at Stratheden.

It was left up to my son and I to both speak out about the abuse and to survive the experience.  Which we are still doing.  Picking up the pieces. 

I had to raise complaints continuously throughout the February and March of 2012, to NHS Fife, copied in to Scottish Government mental health division, to the Mental Welfare Commission, to my MSP and others.  These complaints of mine continued until eventually I had to take them to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, in September 2013.  A year later my complaint was upheld.  I had to singlehandedly mount a campaign for justice while also supporting my son after the systemic abuse.  The only medical professional contact was occasional appointments with psychiatrist Dr Reid, who supported us in the tapering of Haloperidol which had been forcibly injected into my son by IPCU nurses in the locked seclusion room, Feb12.

Here we are in March 2015.  What evidence is there of improvement in the psychiatric nursing practices at Stratheden Hospital?  What evidence of ongoing nurse training, monitoring and evaluation of nurse practice, of patient and carer experience, of patient safety?  I don't know.  I haven't heard.  But last Sunday I did experience being accosted and accused by a Stratheden nurse in the Ceres Centre shop, the former Named Nurse of my son when he was a Stratheden IPCU patient in February 2012 when the abuse was going on in the locked seclusion room.  And which resulted in two nurses contacting the police, giving my name, in connection with allegations to do with my behaviour.  No evidence to back up their claims.  A friend called it a "vendetta".  I would describe it as harassment. (see post 'misuse of power')

The fact that my son's Named Nurse from the Stratheden IPCU, February 2012, when he was being subject to "unreasonable treatment" and human rights abuse, has accused me of unprofessional behaviour and reported me to the police, 3 years later, is a matter of concern.  NHS Fife clinical nurse management should have been working with the IPCU staff from 2012, those who were unaware of the abusive treatment.  The locked seclusion room was being used overnight by staff, one shift in particular who left my son for hours on end unobserved then subjected him to abusive treatment after coming upon my son's dirty protest.  Other patients were also locked in and left.

I should not be subject to more bullying and harassment because I had to do the MWC's work for them.  Similarly with NHS Fife clinical management who should have been aware of what their nurses were doing in the IPCU after hours, overnight, with the locked seclusion room.  Ignorance is no excuse.  Blaming a mother for psychiatric abuse makes no sense at all and compounds the issue.  NHS Fife have a responsibility to protect patients, carers and staff.  Their management systems should be robust.  Similarly with their ongoing practice training, the monitoring and evaluation of nursing practice at Stratheden Hospital.

I contend that NHS Fife should have involved my son and I in the plans for the new IPCU, in talks with clinical staff and in discussing ways of improving conditions at Stratheden Hospital for patients and carers.  Rather than ostracising us and creating divisions.  That isn't good practice or good business sense.  The health board should have owned up to the failings and worked with us to create a collaborative relationship, rather than shoring up the divisions. 


Herald Scotland screenshot 7 Feb 14
I will have more to say about my relationship with the former CEO of the Mental Welfare Commission, Dr Donny Lyons. About how we were in regular contact until the dehumanising treatment was exposed in Stratheden Hospital and a year later, when I complained about the polypharmacy, the multiple drug prescribing at Carseview, Dundee, it resulted in "talk to the hand" and no more communications with Dr Lyons.  Who retired in early 2014.

See "World looks to Scotland after mental health care improved" - are you serious?, my blog post about the Herald Scotland article, 7 February 2014, on Dr Donny Lyons' retirement.

prescribing of psychiatric drug cocktails in Dundee and NMD - two wrongs don't make a right

This is a brief post to highlight the prescribing of psychiatric drug cocktails in Dundee which I first talked about in January 2013 when I had a son who was an inpatient in Carseview Centre.  

I am very concerned at the polypharmacy of psychiatry in Dundee and wonder where it comes from.  I remember the lead clinician at Carseview telling me it was "historical".  As in, they have always done it like that.  

The other thing that concerns me are the rooms set aside in Ward One of Carseview for NMD patients at Ninewells Hospital, linked to the Dundee Advanced Interventions Service.  Not just one room.  That bothers me.

Unmet needs.  This phrase was used in a report from DAIS which I highlighted in a blog post, 27 February 2013 'engaging with the Dundee Advanced Interventions Service'.

I don't want the overprescribing of psychiatric drugs to be reason for the increased experimental brain surgery for mental illness or irreversible NMD that is going on at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.  Two wrongs don't make a right.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Dear @seemescotland Director: Stigma, Discrimination? A story of psychiatric nurses, the police and hearsay

Letter sent to Director of See Me Scotland and others with a stake in Scotland's mental health world: 

Strapline: Stigma, Discrimination? Two psychiatric nurses reported me to the police on 23 Mar15 on hearsay. Two police officers came to my home 25 Mar15 to investigate.

"Dear Judith and colleagues

For your information, here is a demonstration of the stigma and discrimination involved in having a mental illness label, in being a carer and a writer, activist and human rights campaigner in mental health matters.  And the misuse and abuse of power that can occur.

Two police officers came to my home on Wednesday afternoon and into my house.  Why?  Two psychiatric nurses from Stratheden Hospital, Fife, had given my name and that of my son, to the police, in relation to a "paranoid" patient who thought that someone was taking photos of them in the grounds of the hospital on Sunday.  From the description given the nurses knew it was me and so reported me.  The police acted upon this hearsay.

I had been in the grounds of Stratheden on Sunday after Church, taking photos of buildings and improvements or otherwise, as I have done for the last three years, since my son was subject to dehumanising and "unreasonable" treatment in the Stratheden IPCU.  

Here is my storify of tweets from Sunday where I mention being taken aback by a nurse accosting me:

No evidence but the testimony of two psychiatric nurses was enough for the police to investigate me.  To visit my home.  To cause my son, and I, distress.  To take my personal details.  To question my behaviour.  (they said that no further action would be taken and I was free to walk around the grounds of Stratheden Hospital, that's OK then)  I had taken the details of the police officers, asked the name of their line manager, told them something of my son's sub-human treatment in Stratheden, showed them my blogs, the posts from 2012.  My home is a place of refuge.  I do not appreciate having my peace disturbed.

I have raised a complaint (yet again) with NHS Fife, this time about the nurse who accosted me on Sunday.  She used to be the Named Nurse for my son when he was an inpatient of the Stratheden IPCU in February 2012.

Here is the blog post I wrote today: 'misuse of power':

I hope that when See Me Scotland, SAMH and your cohorts are challenging stigma and discrimination that you will try and get to the roots of the matter, where it all begins.  In psychiatry and mental health settings where people are labelled and seen as "less than".  Where people are deemed to be "without capacity" and any resistance is met with force.

Yours sincerely,


misuse of power

old IPCU soon to be replaced
On Sunday when in the Ceres Centre shop at Stratheden psychiatric Hospital, talking to the volunteer serving at the counter, I was accosted by a nurse who came into the shop and warned me not to be doing digital recordings of patients on NHS property.  There were no other people about.  No patients or others.

I was taken aback by this unprovoked attack.  I'd recognised the nurse although couldn't remember her name at that point.  She had been my son's Named Nurse when he was an IPCU patient in February 2012.  Where he had been locked in the seclusion room with no toilet, water to drink, overnight, light switch outside, for hours at a time, unobserved.

I had mentioned the nurse in my tweets that day: 'a Sunday stroll, tweeting and taking photos, going for refreshments and finding the new IPCU plans on view

I continued my walk around the grounds of the hospital on Sunday, coming upon the new IPCU plans in the canteen.  A nice surprise as I had not seen them before, despite having asked about them, and despite the fact that the new build unit and funding from Scottish Government of £4.4million came about after my son's dehumanising treatment in the old IPCU.

Then on Wednesday afternoon I had two police officers at my door.  My son let them into my house as I was having a lie down due to a sore leg.  I limped downstairs to hear what the police had to say.  They had received a complaint from two psychiatric nurses at Stratheden Hospital who gave my name and that of my son.  In relation to a "paranoid" patient who thought that someone might be taking photographs of them in the hospital grounds.

The nurses had contacted the police on the Monday to make this allegation about me.  I assumed it was the nurse who had accosted me on the Sunday although the police officers could not confirm this.  I was very annoyed at being accused of something I did not do.  Three years after nurses at Stratheden Hospital accused me of causing harm to my son, when they were subjecting him to psychiatric abuse.

Rubbish at Stratheden Hospital (Fife Today)
I showed the police officers this blog, the Sunday tweets and photos, my other blogs, and told them that I had been writing about Stratheden Hospital for over 3 years.  I highlighted the photos from 2012, the cigarette ends on the pavement outside the grounds where the staff smoked.  The "Land that time forgot" article on Fife Today website, 29 July 2012.  

I described something of what happened to my son in February 2012 when a patient in the Stratheden IPCU and my winning the Ombudsman complaint against NHS Fife in September 2014.   [see Scottish Sunday Express article 5 October 2014]

Scottish Sunday Express 5 October 2014

The police officers accepted my side of the story, said there was no need to take it any further and that I was free to walk around Stratheden Hospital grounds.  After they left, late on Wednesday afternoon, I wrote a letter of complaint to the General Manager, Mental Health, NHS Fife, copied in to others, including my MSP Roderick Campbell, about the staff nurse who had accosted me on Sunday:

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

"Dear Mr Monteith

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)"

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

@Ayrshirehealth blog post: Here I am, back for a while by @sallymag1; and my comment

'Here I am, back for a while' by Sally Magnusson @sallymag1 on Ayrshire Health blog, 23 March 2015

Where memories go"My mother had dementia. In my book Where Memories Go: Why Dementia Changes Everything I describe how the songs she had gaily sung throughout her life began to play an ever bigger part in how we looked after her.

The songs she knew, and that her children also knew through lifelong immersion – everything from the Inkspots to the Sound of Music, the Hallelujah Chorus to the ‘Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen’ – gradually became not just an excuse for a party but a conscious device to keep us connected to her and her to herself. ...  read complete blog post"

My comment on @Ayrshirehealth:

Glad to read this post about the difference that music and singing can make in the care of people with dementia. The Playlist for Life sounds a very positive project, a way of engaging and keeping the lines of communication open. I’d also like to see the same in general mental health and psychiatric settings, in acute wards, open and secure.

I recently attended the second Scottish Music and Health Network (SMHN) event in Edinburgh, the afternoon session which had various presentations on how music improved health, communication and quality of life:

I had previously attended their first conference in 2014 and been inspired. My family are all musicians, including my 2 younger sisters, 3 sons and me. My oldest son, 38, is leaving his job in the oil industry this year to study a Masters in Music Therapy at Queen Margaret’s University.

at SMHN event 2Mar15
The Music in Hospitals charity whose patron is Sally Magnusson does some great work, taking live music into wards: http://www.musicinhospitalsscotland.org.uk/

Classical musicians sharing their expertise and musicality. I know they have been in some of the wards at Stratheden Hospital, Fife, near where I live. I’d also like to see them in the acute psychiatric wards. Music, listening and playing, can bring healing and is a very therapeutic process, in my experience and that of my family.

SMHN afternoon programme 2 March 2015

Monday, 23 March 2015

Virtual Cupar version 0.2, preview flythrough: Daniel Muirhead; Blender; Unreal Engine

Dear Doctors: can you get me a pass for the Stirling @rcpsych event? maybe I could join your team (updated response)

Letter sent by Email at 7.33am, 23 March 2015, to Prof Keith Matthews and Dr David Christmas, Advanced Interventions Service, Dundee:

"Dear Doctors Matthews and Christmas

I have just heard that you are both speaking at the forthcoming RCPsych event in Stirling on 15 May 2015 (see poster below).  Would you like a third person on the team.  Me?

I could speak out from the psychiatric survivor experience, also as an ex-service user, clinically depressed after having/being made to swallow Risperidone then Venlafaxine then Lithium.  A triple dose of depressing drugs.  

I could tell everyone how I got over the depression by getting off the drugs.  Explain the tapering process.  The magic ingredients of resilience, resistance and bloody-mindedness (excuse the expression).  I think my participation could go down a storm among your fellow clinical professionals.

What do you think?  Would there be room for me on the day?

Yours hopefully,


PS I do hope you are not recommending NMD as a magic ingredient?  If that was the case then I'd need to do a protest."

[I have removed the screenshot of the Email at the request of Dr Christmas]


Dr Christmas Emailed a response at 8.34am, 23 March 2015:

"Dear Chrys, thanks for the offer but I suspect that on this occasion we should be okay. Best wishes, David."

I then asked for a copy of their presentation and Dr Christmas responded saying:

"They'll probably go on the website so remind me after the event and I'll make sure you can access them. Best wishes, David."

[I have removed the screenshot of the Email at the request of Dr Christmas]

Sunday, 22 March 2015

at times it feels like "in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king"

Tweets sent earlier, on finding out that these "experts" were speaking at a Holyrood event on "the future of mental health":

Dear Mr McKay, CEO of MWC: Do the job right. Protect the patients and carers. We shouldn't have to be the ones uncovering abuse.

I had sent a letter by Email to Colin McKay, CEO of Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, on 4 February 2015 (see copy below), after reading a Daily Mail article about an English health trust which had been rated "inadequate" by the Care Quality Commission watchdog, for using face-down restraint and seclusion with no toilet.  Just like in Stratheden Hospital.

But I got no response from Mr McKay.  Rather he passed the buck and the responsibility to an underling.  I received the Nursing Officer letter on 16 February 2015.  It was both disappointing and disheartening to be fobbed off in this way and I sat the letter and my annoyance to the side, for a while, until I had cooled down. 

I thought it very disrespectful of the Chief Executive Officer not to respond to me personally.  You might describe it like a slap in the face.  And so I have turned the other cheek.  I prefer to respond reasonably in the face of disrespect and a refusal by the Mental Welfare Commission to accept any responsibility or liability, in respect of their failure to protect vulnerable people in psychiatric settings at risk of abuse.

I recommend that Mr McKay and his watchdog team take a leaf out of their English counterparts' book.  Get some teeth.  Do the job right.  Protect the patients and their carers.  We shouldn't have to be the ones uncovering abuse.  Whistleblowing.  The MWC are funded to the tune of £4million plus a year.  Scotland deserves better value for the money spent.

Daily Mail article headlines, 4 February 2015:

Daily Mail website link

I asked Colin McKay a number of questions regarding the failures in Stratheden Hospital, to do with my son's unreasonable and dehumanising treatment, for example:

"Why was it left up to a mother and her son to expose the human rights abuses in Stratheden?  It took me over 30 months to win my complaint against NHS Fife, in respect of "unreasonable treatment", with the Ombudsman.  I had to campaign while at the same time supporting my son, singlehandedly, after his dehumanising, traumatic treatment in the Stratheden IPCU.  Getting excluded from Scottish Patient Safety events and badmouthed by Scottish Government highly paid senior civil servants."

However I did not receive a reply from Colin McKay.  Rather he deputised his "co-ordinator for NHS Fife at the Commission" to respond:

Letter from Nursing Officer at MWC, dated 16 February 2015:


Blog post with letter to CEO of Mental Welfare Commission, 4 February 2015:

Earlier today I saw this article in a tweet by a fellow psychiatric survivor:

'Health trust shamed for dangerously restraining its patients: Body faces being put in special measures after using technique that can be fatal' Daily Mail today 4 February 2015:

I immediately wrote a letter by Email to Colin McKay, CEO of the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland: 

"Dear Colin

I have just been reading about the work of the Care Quality Commission in this article, today, where it has exposed the failings in an English health trust.

"A mental health trust where patients have been punished with a dangerous form of restraint faces being put into special measures.

Inspectors found serious problems at the body that oversees mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk.

These included patients being held in the face-down prone position and being put in seclusion as a punishment.

The prone position involves two or more staff holding a patient face-down on the floor and pinning down their arms, legs and torso. It can result in compression of the chest and airways and can be fatal."

I am wondering why the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland did not manage to expose the failings at Stratheden Hospital, Fife, where my son was subject to face-down restraint and locked in a seclusion room for hours at a time, no toilet or water to drink, light switch outside.  He has asthma and has experienced 3 collapsed lungs when younger.  The treatment of NHS Fife staff was very risky for my son. 

Why was it left up to a mother and her son to expose the human rights abuses in Stratheden?  It took me over 30 months to win my complaint against NHS Fife, in respect of "unreasonable treatment", with the Ombudsman.  I had to campaign while at the same time supporting my son, singlehandedly, after his dehumanising, traumatic treatment in the Stratheden IPCU.  Getting excluded from Scottish Patient Safety events and badmouthed by Scottish Government highly paid senior civil servants.

Stratheden Hospital was the scene of a death by restraint, of patient Shaun Martin in 1994:

Why therefore was the MWC not keeping a close eye on what was going on inside the wards of Stratheden Hospital?  Bearing in mind the known culture.  Why was the seclusion room still being used in 2012 and even in September 2014, according to a mother whose son was an inpatient and who works in her day job for the Joint Improvement Team, a Scottish Government department? 

Near the end of this Daily Mail article it says: "In a statement, the trust said it accepted the findings and ‘vowed to put patients and staff first’ under a management team which had seen ‘extensive changes’".  Whereas all I got was a grudging one sentence apology from NHS Fife and no inclusion in any improvement meetings going on where I live.

I am copying in to this Email my MSP Roderick Campbell and various others who work in government and in NHS Fife.  Plus the Healthcare Improvement Scotland senior managers who have excluded me from key events, ever since my son and I spoke out about the sub-standard care in Stratheden Hospital and the sub-human treatment of psychiatric patients:

I am looking for a response from you, to my questions and comments, and will be posting this Email in a blog post, and any reply.  I know there is to be a new build IPCU at Stratheden but I am still concerned about the culture in the wards, the morale of staff and the safety of patients, and of their carers.  That customers of the service will be free to speak out about any issues or bad practice without being at risk of retaliation or, for carers, slandering of reputation and character.  I know what that's like.  Unfortunately.

Yours sincerely,

Chrys Muirhead (Mrs)"

Saturday, 21 March 2015

'Psychiatric care unit plan approved' Fife Herald 20 March 2015 - updated with @nhsfife response

Updated 23 March 2015 with Email response from Mary Porter, NHS Fife General Manager:

"Dear Chrys

Thank you for your email. As previously advised the business case for the IPCU will be considered on the 7 April by the CIG, as part of our submission we are required to seek and include planning permission. Once the business case is approved I will write to you with the dates of our public events.

Kind regards.



I have written to Mary Porter, General Manager NHS Fife, to confirm the dates and details regarding the new IPCU planning approval, copying in my MSP Roderick Campbell and other NHS Fife managers:

"Dear Mary

I am writing to you again about the new IPCU business case approval which you stated, in attached Email, would be after the "Capital Investment Group at the Scottish Government which next meets on the 7th April 2015".  (see link to blog post with Email sent 3 March 2015)

Yesterday's Fife Herald had a brief news piece announcing that planning approval had been granted, regarding the build of the new IPCU at Stratheden, subject to a number of conditions.  See attached copy.

Can you please confirm what the details are, regarding dates of approval and public consultation or briefing events.  

Thank you,

With regards, Chrys

[this Email and the Fife Herald article will go in a blog post for the sake of transparency]"

Friday, 20 March 2015

notes from spectating @ScotParl debate on Health & Social Care Integration 19 March 2015

Scottish Parliament
I got the train yesterday from Cupar to Edinburgh and a walk down the Canongate to Scottish Parliament, via the Scottish Storytelling Centre for a bowl of mushroom soup.  I'd booked tickets for the chamber debate on the Health & Social Care Integration, and spectated in the public gallery from 2.30-5.00pm.

I took notes and here are some of the points that stood out for me:
  • About 20-25 MSPs taking part in debate, some sitting at back typing in to iPads and the like.
  • Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Health, was a home care organiser job wise. In her opening speech announced another £100million for 2nd and 3rd year, integrated care fund. SPICE indicators published yesterday, person-centred outcomes.
  • Ayrshire and Arran was mentioned often, in positive terms regarding their integration launch, by many of the speakers, different political parties.  Fife wasn't mentioned at all, as I recall.
  • BMA briefing report highlighted by a number of MSPs - GP leadership, capacity building, outcomes, investment.  
  • Neurological conditions was a popular topic, I think because an organisation has a display in parliament just now
  • Nanette Milne highlighted GP leaderships roles, silos and changes in culture, delayed discharge (a common theme along with bed blocking).  Voluntary Action Orkney Befriending, reducing isolation.
  • Jim Hume used the phrase "ticking time bomb" to describe increased elderly population in future.  Other MSPs ribbed him on this phrase.
  • Bob Doris talked about visiting Tommy Taylor, a gentleman of 100yrs old, and celebrating his birthday.  Cash is not always quality.  He highlighted the advantages of multi-disciplinary teams, AHPs alongside nurses and doctors, that H&SC Alliance raised issue of money not being mainstreamed.
  • Malcolm Chisholm also spoke of culture change and leadership.  No clarity in locality arrangements, no statutory guidance.  The need for clear frameworks and responsibilities, devolved budgets.  Mentioned A Stitch in Time, Lothian.
  • Sandra White reminded her colleagues about the benefits of being old "put younger people to shame", the talents and capacity of all. That one size doesn't fit all.  To think of bottom up, patient centred, culture change.  To remember housing providers so they may be fully utilised in partnerships.
  • John Pentland talked of visiting Lanarkshire Links, said that "transparency is pivotal".
  • Kenny McAskill spoke passionately, phrases I recorded: aging bones - departed from this earth - tragedy befell that child - silos and tin hats - law of unintended consequences - not thrown out with the bathwater - microcosm - child sex exploitation.  Mentioned criminal justice and social work, not to forget them.
  • Gil Paterson described the "two massive beasts" of health and social care, and how in West Dunbartonshire the agencies overcame cultural barriers
  • Paul Martin's birthday the day before, 48yrs old. Said "we do all agree with each other". Said that Marie Curie does good work.  60% who are terminally ill want to die at home.
  • Christina McKelvie spoke of her great interest in and support for the MND condition. People rather than structures. Legislation as framework.
  • Joan McAlpine said about Dumfries & Galloway coming up with a "most ambitious" plan for integration.
  • Elaine Murray also spoke about Dumfries area, of Nithsdale with no services there, of Moffat, Thornill and the challenges of rural areas.
  • Richard Lyle on Health & Sport Committee talked of "cross shunting" between councils and health boards, how the integration should help.
  • Jim Hume came in again, mentioned mental health care and capacity.  Parity of esteem between mental and physical health treatment.  Quoted a health professional who said "hell mend you if this does not go through".
  • Jackson Carlaw made some quips re Bob Doris, described the NHS as a "sea of shifting sands".  Talked of his mother's recent discharge from hospital, the difficulties of getting a GP appointment.  How it would be worse for people who "haven't got the wits" to challenge issues.  Mentioned the CHPs and the "goodwill eroded".
  • At 5pm all the government ministers came into the chamber to vote.  And I went off to Waverley to catch the train home.

Photos taken yesterday in Edinburgh:
outside Scottish Parliament, Holyrood

Cockburn Street

North Bridge

John Knox House, also Scottish Storytelling Centre & Cafe (got bowl of soup)