Sunday, 31 January 2016

Emails received from detained female patient in Scottish psychiatric hospital

Yesterday evening I received 5 Emails, forwarded on from a woman who is a detained patient in a Scottish psychiatric hospital, not Fife.  Dated from 20-29 January 2016.  Which I have forwarded on to colleagues, to Colin McKay, Mental Welfare Commission, to MSPs in the woman's area, to my MSP Roderick Campbell, and to VOX (voices of experience) and HUG (Highland Users Group) contacts, for their information.

In these Emails the woman says that she is not mentally ill but is to be subject to a forced depot injection fortnightly.  And was given one electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) treatment on the day she entered the hospital.  Her writing was lucid and made sense, containing observations of what went on in the ward and issues arising.

I noticed that there were IT, knitting and pottery classes available.  Nothing like that was on offer at Stratheden Hospital, Fife, in 2012.  The female patient also said that independent advocacy was helpful and that she managed to eventually obtain a solicitor to act on her behalf, likely at a Mental Health Tribunal, appealing the 28 day detention.

The patient says that she was put on to a 28 day S44 short-term detention, not a 72 hour one, "for the purpose of an Appeal under the Act".  And says that she always receives a depot injection on the "premise" that she refuses to accept that she is mentally ill or that the diagnosis is correct.

The Emails had long lists of points containing a variety of information and detail, past and present.  They were not addressed to me in person but had been forwarded on so I assume that many other people also received these Emails.  I think it's very useful that this woman has written about her daily experiences as a psychiatric patient on the ward.  A personal diary shared with the outside world.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

'Whistleblower calls for help for ‘lost voices’ of NHS patients' @TheScotsman 29Jan16

'Whistleblower calls for help for ‘lost voices’ of NHS patients' Lizzy Buchan, The Scotsman, 29 January 2016:

"A woman whose elderly father was left isolated and in pain at a community hospital during his last days is spearheading a new campaign to fight for the “lost voices” within Scottish health service.

Shona Oliver and her family have fought a two-year battle to get justice for her father Bill, who died at Ellen’s Glen House, in Edinburgh in 2013.

The 82-year-old, who had dementia and was partly deaf, moved to the facility when doctors diagnosed him with advanced stomach cancer. He spent four weeks there, until his death.

Chronic staff shortages meant patients were left wearing soiled clothes or lying in pain after a fall, but despite complaints to NHS Lothian and the Scottish Government, the Oliver family felt their concerns were being ignored.

During one visit, Ms Oliver and her brothers Steven and Gavin, both 56, found their father hanging out of his bed, half-dressed, and crying for help. He was dehydrated and surrounded by mugs of tea and glasses of water that he was too weak to lift.

Ms Oliver, 51, said: “He was shouting at us, ‘Help me, help me, I’m dying. Why won’t someone help me?’

“Those are the last words I ever heard my dad say. My brothers and I will never get that picture of our dad, wide-eyed and distressed, out of our minds.”

Ms Oliver described how she heard vulnerable patients vomiting or choking on their food, wearing soiled clothes or shouting out in distress as buzzers went unanswered.

The family found one woman lying in the hall as she had fallen out of bed and crawled to the door to attract attention.

When nursing staff were challenged, many broke down in tears while a senior medic told them staffing levels were “dangerously low”.

NHS Lothian has apologised to the family and pledged to learn from an upcoming review by Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

But the family decided to fight on and have met with leaders at NHS Lothian, and Health Secretary Shona Robison, to get answers.

An adverse incident review last year found that more than £3 million was needed to safely staff all of the In-Patient Complex Care units in Lothian, but no-one was able to say where the money would come from, said Ms Oliver.

She has joined other whistleblowers, clinicians and activists to form ASAP NHS, which is calling for the creation of an independent NHS regulator with full investigatory and disciplinary powers.

The group has claimed that as many as 2,000 unnecessary deaths are taking place within the NHS each year.

Ms Oliver said: “Some of these people had no one to advocate for them. I call them the lost voices. These are the people who have no one to speak up for them.”

Maria Wilson, chief nurse of the Edinburgh Integrated Joint Board, said: “NHS Lothian conducted a wide-ranging independent review … the findings of the investigation and improvement plans have been shared with Ms Oliver and her family. An independent inspection, by Health Improvement Scotland, is now due to be carried out.”

Shona Robison said: “We welcome the review which HIS are undertaking in NHS Lothian which will look at all hospital-based complex clinical care settings.”


My comment: 

Compare this to our experiences after sub-human treatment in Stratheden Hospital.  A grudging apology in a one-line sentence and £4.4million awarded to NHS Fife.  And an attempt to lay the blame on me for causing "psychological harm" when they were locking my son in the seclusion room for hours at a time, no toilet or water to drink, broken hand.  Then pushing him face down in his own urine and faeces, 3 nurses holding him down, anal rape, getting away with it.

The responses to complaints in general hospitals contrasted with complaints in psychiatric settings.  We have had to whistleblow on our own and I have had to be the media spokesperson and set up my own media "empire" so as to have a voice.

Friday, 29 January 2016

at Public Petitions Committee Meeting @ScotParl 26Jan16 to hear Sunshine Act for Scotland PE1493

PE1493: A Sunshine Act for Scotland
I attended the Public Petitions Committee on 26 January 2016, in the Robert Burns Room (CR1) Scottish Parliament, to hear Dr Peter Gordon's Sunshine Act for Scotland Petition PE1493 being considered for the sixth time.  From 12 November 2013 when Dr Gordon gave evidence in person.

The Sunshine Act Petition PE1493 came up just after 12noon and the Chair Michael McMahon MSP proposed that the committee should write to Scottish Government regarding the outcome of the consultation (by Scottish Health Council) and this was agreed by all.


22 January 2015:

A Sunshine Act for Scotland Petition PE1493: 26 January 2016 Robert Burns Room @ScotParl


I went into the meeting near the beginning and heard evidence taken from 3 new petitions prior to Dr Gordon's petition being considered:
  • moratorium on shared space schemes
  • In Care Surivors Service Scotland
  • Mycoplasma Fermentans in regressive autism
The process was interesting, how the petitioners presented their evidence and points highlighted in support and defense of their cause.  Here are some notes I took from things said:

Shared space schemes: Two people presenting who had visual impairments, the risks associated with removal of controlled  replacing with courtesy crossings: "my life is a bit more valuable than that", the Kirkintilloch master plan, no regulation of councils, Sustrans favouring cyclists over pedestrians, suggestion by MSP to contact COSLA in the Netherlands.

In Care Survivors Service Scotland: £88K for consultation, £13.59million over 5yrs, field of trauma, Police Scotland letter re funding, broker model, "one size doesn't fit all", Open Secret, survivor choice, labels for personality disorder & narcissistic disorder unhelpful.

Mycoplasma Fermentans in regressive autism: MMR vaccine, gradual withdrawal into autism, "mechanism poorly understood", environmental factors, changing diagnostic criteria, 1943 paper by Dr Leo Kanner

I decided after attending this meeting that I should submit a Public Petition to Scottish Parliament.

Leaflet on How to submit a Public Petition

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The secret clinical psychologist's diary: 'We review some horrific life histories' @guardian

The secret clinical psychologist's diary: 'We review some horrific life histories': The Guardian, 26 January 2016:


I return to work after a two-week break to find more than 200 emails in my inbox, some relevant to my work and some fired off by managers doing their job but not really engaging with the realities of clinical work. Do I need to read the chief executive’s blog about their weekend? 

I learn that my mandatory training for community life support is out of date and I need to update it. The list of mandatory training sessions I must attend each year gets longer while my hours remain the same and the pressures on time increase. Travel and time logistics, along with actually seeing patients, mean that I can’t do this training until late March.


First up is a home visit to see a young woman whose family have wrapped her in love and cotton wool to the extent that she has limited social skills. She’s at risk of sexual exploitation because she doesn’t know how to appropriately make friends. She is 22 years old. Recommendations from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) suggest her family are offered a structured therapeutic intervention to help them communicate better.

Her mother is unable to contain her anger at me at this point because she thinks her parenting is being criticised and she has no faith that mental health services can help. Realistically, it could be a full three years’ worth of our service before she can allow her daughter some of the freedoms she needs in order to survive. 

We spend about 20 minutes talking about why it is important that her daughter gets to choose what she wants for breakfast, rather than her parents choosing for her. I remind her that her daughter is an adult. This will be an uphill battle for me and her mental health nurse. We leave the house hoping that we have engaged them enough for them to let us in next time. ..."

Read complete article

Sunday, 24 January 2016

clinical psychology in academia: the lack of learning, level playing fields and therapeutic relationships

I spent 6 years trying to be meaningfully involved in the clinical psychology training groups for people with "lived experience" at Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities, starting in 2009 when I turned up at the Mental Health and Wellbeing Unit or red brick building within the grounds of Gartnavel Hospital.  Late into the group because I couldn't find a parking place.  I never did get travel expenses for that meeting and was out of pocket.  That became a theme of my engagement with clinical psychology academics.  It cost me.

Then in 2011 there was a national event in Stirling University organised by the DClinPsy academics to encourage the involvement of experts by experience in their university training courses.  Or at least that's what I thought it was about.  Looking back it was probably a tick box exercise, recruiting folk for their research.  I put my name down for the Edinburgh group but eventually got letters inviting me to attend both.  So I went along to both, the only person to do so for about 3 years.  

In February 2012 my son was subject to psychiatric abuse in the locked seclusion room of the Stratheden Hospital IPCU and so began a long campaign for justice, whistleblowing about the dehumanising treatment and taking a complaint to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, upheld in September 2014.  But there was no justice.  NHS Fife got £4.4million to build a new locked ward and we got nothing, apart from a one line grudging apology from their interim CEO.  

Therefore as I was campaigning for justice, writing on Mad in America (  and on my own blogs about psychiatric abuse, I was also attending the DClinPsy user/carer groups at Edinburgh and Glasgow universities.  It wasn't easy for any of us.  And eventually I was bullied off the Glasgow group by other members after a discussion about children getting ECT.  It was time for me to go.  We weren't on the same page.  The group will function better without my involvement. Although more boring and uneventful.  Guid luck tae them.

The Edinburgh DClinPsy group was eventually dominated by the Autism contingent, parents speaking out.  There was an attempt made to involve me in a psychosis teaching session but the process wasn't inclusive.  I felt like a performing monkey, telling my story.  I wasn't an equal and didn't like the after-effects.  There were difficulties with getting financial reimbursement so I didn't bother trying to claim it, the process was difficult and I was out of pocket again.  Par for the course.  Being made to feel "less than". 

I just wasn't prepared to be a cog in their wheel or a guinea pig for their research.  And it felt like the clinical psychology academics did not know how to treat me as an equal.  There was a barrier which I was not able to break down.  I think it has to be something in their training which has caused the clinical gaze.  Them and us.  I never got to see their training materials or I might have discovered what the problem was.  Likely biological psychiatry.  The mantra of mental illness. Scapegoating a few to benefit the many. 

Clinical psychology has not learned how to play the game of psychiatry despite having doctorates and professors.  They either believe their own press and think they have insight when they don't or have given up trying to shift the paradigm and are coasting.  I'm not impressed with either.  It isn't helping. 

In Fife we have found engaging with clinical psychology, over 10 years, to be unproductive and on occasion damaging.  They did not demonstrate person-centred working or listening skills.  In 2012 we could not get CBT from the clinical psychologist who was based at Stratheden Hospital.  [I knew the man in other mental health settings over a number of yearsHe was determined to deliver mindfulness and therefore I had to do the work with my son, helping him through the flashbacks from the psychiatric abuse.  That CP is now retired.  

The Edinburgh DClinPsy academics kept saying to me at the meetings in the Medical Quad building that they could not influence what went on in the localities, in other words Fife.  But I didn't accept that apologetic.  Mindfulness in the face of psychiatric abuse is just not good enough, in my opinion.  It's like standing by and holding the coats.  Clinical psychology training has to meaningfully involve psychiatric survivors as well as mental health service users.  We should be given our place and paid appropriate wages according to our qualifications.  [are you listening NHS Education for Scotland?]

I want to see a transformation of clinical psychology practice and training so that they can stand on their own two feet as professionals and not be handmaidens to psychiatry.  Psychiatric survivors can help bring about the change.  People like me who have resisted the mental illness labels and recovered from coercive psychiatric drug treatment.  Who have proved the limitations of biological psychiatry and the biomedical model of mental illness.  Get us on board as equals.  Get some gumption.  Stop being so feart.  Why should I have to do your job for nothing? 

Further reading:

Mindfulness is all very well – but don’t give up your right to get angry' by Tracey Thorn, in New Statesman, 27 August 2015  

26 August 2015: stigma and scapegoating 

Friday, 22 January 2016

Dear @scotgov Ministers & Civil Servants: no hope of paid work in mental health recovery education; it's not fair or just

Here is an Email sent this evening to 36 Scottish Government Ministers & senior Civil Servants, including my MSP Roderick Campbell and other Fife MSPs:

Strapline: 'good for nothing' blog post; not meeting the criteria for EMPOWER project Glasgow University; no hope of paid work in mental health recovery education; financially poor; it's not fair or just

"Dear Scottish Government Ministers & Civil Servants

Here is a blog post which I wrote this morning first thing after waking entitled 'good for nothing':

This was because I heard yesterday that I did not meet the criteria for an interview re a project manager/research post with EMPOWER (Early signs Monitoring to Prevent relapse and prOmote Wellbeing, Engagement and Recovery), University of Glasgow, Mental Health and Wellbeing Unit.  I also heard from Abertay University mental health nursing programme that there was no likelihood of me getting any paid work there either, from the "lived experience" perspective.  Despite the fact I have two postgraduate reflective practitioner qualifications, am a lecturer and trainer, and have campaigned for better psychiatric services at Stratheden Hospital.  And for the last 8 years have voluntarily promoted recovery in a variety of settings and supported my two sons in their recovery from mental health issues and psychiatric treatment.

Here are two blog posts about the EMPOWER project which mentions mental health recovery.  Prof Andrew Gumley is the Chief Investigator:

I now have no hope of getting any paid work to do with mental health recovery education.  My 35 years experience of working in community learning and development, BA Admin Management (best student, Fife College 1996), PG Diploma Community Education (Northern College Dundee 1998), PG Certificate Teaching Qualification Further Education, care subjects (Stirling University 2008) are not valued in Scotland's mental health world.

The fact that I gave up paid work to be an unwaged carer, and at the same time got involved in many mental health groups from the psychiatric survivor and carer perspective, counts for nothing.  I recovered 3 times from psychoses and psychiatric drug treatment.  I never claimed Disability Living Allowance and got back to working as quickly as possible, resisting lifelong mental illness labels.  

I am now on a basic State Pension, no carers allowance, live in a council house and can't afford to run a car so have to take public transport.  Which is fine except the Springfield bus goes past Stratheden where my son had his human rights abused in 2012.  Therefore I am constantly reminded of my fight for justice.  And see the new build IPCU at a cost of £4.4million given to NHS Fife by Scottish Government after my son and I whistleblowed about the locked seclusion room, winning an Ombudsman case in Sep14, and a one-line apology from the Fife health board.

I am fortunate to have got myself fit and more able after a health scare last summer.  However if I'd believed the mental illness mantra and stayed on the 3 drug cocktail I was put on, 2002-4, then it might be a completely matter.  As it is, I have a 6in titanium plate on my fibula, no doubt caused by maximum doses of Venlafaxine when I was in my 50's, bone loss.  

I got involved in mental health matters because of sharing my recovery story on the SRN website in 2005 then updated in 2008, setting up Peer Support Fife that year, voluntarily, and running many events until funding ran out in 2012.  And then my time was taken up fighting for justice and for my son's wellbeing.

Why should I be penalised for making a full recovery from mental illness?  Why should I be financially poor for having supported my son 24/7, singlehandedly after psychiatric abuse in February 2012?  He lives with me. I have sat with him through the flashbacks in 2012, hearing what was done to him in the locked seclusion room.  Held face down with a broken hand in his own faeces and urine.  Light switch was outside the locked room which had no drinking water or toilet.  He was left for hours unobserved in the dark, through the night.  Practice should have changed and improved because of our transparency and exposing ourselves.

It's not fair.  I wanted you to know how I feel.  I am 63 and well able to do full-time paid work in a responsible position, educating mental health professionals from the perspective of surviving mental illness, psychiatric treatment and helping many family members to do the same.  Yet it seems that I have been penalised and punished for whistleblowing and for supporting my sons in their recovery.

Scottish Government should be funding properly paid posts for people who have recovered from mental illness and have supported family members to do the same.  It makes financial sense to employ the real Experts by Experience, giving appropriate payment for qualifications, to people who have proved their commitment by leading the way, in actions and outcomes.  (I am not interested in gongs, just wanted to clarify)

Yours sincerely,


cc Paul Hawkins CEO NHS Fife; Allan Burns Chair NHS Fife Board"