Thursday, 30 April 2015

Email strapline: "Stratheden IPCU May events for public - has a date been arranged? I haven't been informed"

Just sent another Email to Mary Porter, NHS Fife General Manager, copied in to various NHS Fife others and my MSP Roderick Campbell:

Strapline: Stratheden IPCU May events for public - has a date been arranged? I haven't been informed

"Dear Mary

I am writing again to ask if there are any events planned yet for the new build IPCU at Stratheden Hospital?  I've heard nothing.

You mentioned May for the public viewing and today is the last day of April.

I hope that you can enlighten me.

Regards, Chrys"

I am not confident of being included, based on past experiences of engaging with management over 5 years and more.  I can recall many meetings where I was patronised by both NHS Fife and Fife Council Social Work mental health managers.  When trying to be "meaningfully involved".

Prior to this I had been a community education and development worker since 1980, leading and facilitating, working alongside people in various community settings.  I wasn't used to being talked down to and treated like a bairn.  And so I resisted which resulted in exclusion.  Go to your room.

My father used to send me to my room when he thought I was being cheeky, primary school age.  He stopped doing it by the time I was a teenager and could look him in the eye.  Same height.  All grown up.  Level playing fields.


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


post 'Letter to NHS Fife General Manager about new build IPCU and bullying culture at Stratheden Hospital - Updated with response' 3 March 2015

Friday, 24 April 2015

damage limitation

This morning I've been thinking back to a fruitless meeting I had in December 2012 with two clinical nurse CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services) managers, male leads at the Playfield Institute, Stratheden Hospital, who had been parachuted in to part time clinical management at the hospital.

This happened shortly after my son was a Stratheden IPCU patient in February 2012 and the locked seclusion room abuses came to light through my complaining.  One of the CAMHS nurse managers, who worked for years on a secondment with Scottish Government, is now the General Manager in Mental Health Services, NHS Fife.  Promotion.

The phrase "damage limitation" comes to mind.  Protecting staff and the NHS in Fife from the fallout of exposure.  From talking about what was going on behind closed doors.  Psychiatric abuse.

What I find annoying and hurtful is that the CAMHS men did not stand with a mother and her son.  [I knew one of them very well, had invited him and his female colleague to lead a workshop at United We Stand, see info below]  

We were left to get on with picking up the pieces.  Excluded from Fife patient safety meetings and any discussions about failures in duty of care and "unreasonable treatment".   Scapegoated.

Nothing to be proud of.  In my opinion.

Peer Support Fife bulletin November 2009

Thursday, 23 April 2015

next @nhsfife Health Board meeting on 28 April 2015 in St Andrews Medical School

The next NHS Fife Health Board meeting is at 10am on 28 April 2015 in Seminar Room 1, St Andrews Medical School building, .  

Here is link to the NHS Fife website with Agenda, Minutes and Papers.

Page one of Agenda 28 April 2015

Monday, 13 April 2015

levelling the ground; listening to the real experts; meaningful involvement

SRN link Dec05 event
Thinking back over the years of trying to be meaningfully involved in Scotland's mental health world and in having a voice locally in Fife, what sticks out most is the hierarchical shenanigans alongside the infantilisation of mental patients and the patronising of people with "lived experience", the real experts by experience (EBE).

I caught a glimpse of it at the Scottish Recovery Network Peer Support conference in December 2005, Glasgow, when noticing the organisational leaders who were going about as if on a different level from the rest of us.  No time to speak to anyone who wasn't a crony.

I had also by that time been a volunteer in a few mental health organisations in Cupar when recovering from psychiatric treatment in 2002, and noticed the patronising behaviour by paid workers towards EBE.  Mirroring the infantilisation techniques used in psychiatric settings.

It put me off getting involved and by 2006 I'd got a full-time post in Fife (Adam Smith) College setting up a student mentoring project, also finding work placements for students who were disabled or had other barriers to employment.

Latterly I got into lecturing at the FE college, doing a self funded postgrad qualification at Stirling University, in my own time.  I enjoyed the college post and got involved in various activities, including the Scottish Mentoring Network and writing pieces for local press about the projects I had set up.  At the same time I had evening posts, lecturing in care subjects and doing paid work for Fife Council in a community use school at Glenrothes.

Peer Support Fife bulletin front page
I decided to get meaningfully involved in mental health, January 2008 starting up Peer Support Fife, because of the peer movement, linked to recovery and the government arm SRN, which appeared to be about civil rights.  But it was more about employability, reducing the welfare budget and numbers of people with mental health problems on benefits.  The hierarchy and cronyism in SRN, VOX (national MH service user led organisation) and their buddies I found difficult to thole.

The more I spoke out with a questioning or critical voice, the more I was excluded, nationally.  There was no room for opposite opinions or for people who were independent thinkers, who would not fall into line and become a crony.  As if we should challenge psychiatry and patriarchal thinking by adopting the same mannerisms.  Very irritating.  A surfeit of badmouthing, backstabbing and bullying behaviour kept arising. 

The local Fife situation wasn't any better.  Tokenistic involvement of EBE and any critical voices not listened to.  Independent advocacy in Fife was not recognised or respected.  And in 2009 the advocacy tendering by statutory agencies resulted in the local groups losing out and an English learning disability service provider Circles Network winning the contract.  An end to independent advocacy in Fife.  A continuation of psychiatric abuse and tick-box involvement.

SPSO decision report link
The exposing of the "unreasonable treatment" of my son and human rights abuse going on in the Stratheden IPCU (intensive psychiatric care unit), in my Email complaints all through 2012 and in the successful Ombudsman complaint against NHS Fife, instigated by me and supported by my son, should have resulted in the health board attempting to meaningfully involve us.  Rather it is still a case of drawbridges up and a refusal to engage with us, and to work through the issues.

The old Stratheden IPCU/Ward 4 building was declared "unfit for purpose" by the Mental Welfare Commission.  Locking mental patients in a seclusion room with no toilet or drinking water for hours at a time is human rights abuse.  Prisoners got compensation for slopping out: "seeking to challenge slopping out as being in breach of Article 3 of ECHR in that it amounted to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment"

For the culture to change in Stratheden Hospital will require the meaningful involvement of EBE and for NHS Fife health board managers to work with complainers, listening to our experiences and asking for our participation.  Otherwise it's like closing the barn doors after the horse has bolted.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

the naughty step

locked back door IPCU which I had to use for visiting my son Feb12, no bell or light, dark nights

In the Stratheden IPCU/Ward 4, February 2012, a young nurse described the seclusion room as "the naughty step".  She was on duty when my son was locked in this room for hours overnight, in the dark, for at least the fourth time.  When he was forced to defecate on the floor as no-one came to let him out for the toilet despite him shouting out about it. 

This young nurse stood in the corridor and observed the 3 other nurses who were holding my son face down in his own excrement, following his dirty protest.  Psychiatric abuse.  From which he got a glandular infection and verrucas on his foot, requiring antibiotics and months of podiatry. 

Soon after this episode the young nurse, not long qualified, went down to the South of England to work. 

The IPCU/Ward 4 was in the habit of housing "returners", revolving-door patients who were well known to the nurses and who were used to the practices in the ward, likely expecting nothing more.  These patients used to say that prison was better, in terms of facilities, although they weren't asking to go back there and wouldn't have spoken out about dehumanising treatment, I think for fear of going back to prison.

The returner patients knew the score in the IPCU.  Being locked in the "cooler", kicking chunks out of the wall, having their human rights denied.  They were used to it.  Seeing the nurses roll their own cigarettes in the TV room, in front of the patients.  The water cooler locked in the dining room so no access to drinking water except at mealtimes or when visitors were allowed.  

Plastic bottles were seen as dangerous weapons and plastic cutlery was used at mealtimes.  Imaginary lines were drawn in the dining room, beyond which the patients couldn't move or else.  Their own personal food and drink was locked in cupboards to which only the nurses had the key.

The rules were there to be broken.  The TV remote control was out of bounds so the patients would climb up on the furniture to change the channels.  The smoking room was out of bounds to the nurses.  Health and safety.  So the patients could smuggle in illegal drugs and smoke them there.  Also bully other patients who didn't know the score.

This is no laughing matter.  I am very annoyed at the dehumanising treatment that was perpetuated in the Stratheden IPCU under the guise of discipline towards wayward children.  Bad practice that went unchecked for decades except if there were staff in charge who were principled and had emotional intelligence.  

A bullying culture unchallenged by management and by other professionals who visited the ward: social workers, Mental Health Officers, police officers, GPs, voluntary sector mental health organisational staff, Mental Welfare Commission staff, MSPs, local councillors, advocates, occupational therapists, clinical psychologists, Scottish Government civil servants and others.

Ignorance is no excuse.  Inaction is no defence.  Someone should have blown the whistle.  Foul.  Penalty.  Game over.

back view of IPCU from gardens

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

my complaint about staff nurse and police 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.