Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Next @nhsfife Board meeting at 10am on 30 June 2015 Dunfermline

Next NHS Fife Board meeting is on 30 June 2015 at Queen Margaret Hospital, Whitefield Road, Dunfermline, KY12 0SU:

Link to NHS Fife Board meetings information, minutes, agendas


Storify of tweets: notetaking & tweeting @nhsfife board meeting St Andrews Medical School 28 April 2015: an independent voice:

Monday, 15 June 2015

Solitary Confinement Is Cruel and Ineffective - yes I agree

'Solitary Confinement Is Cruel and Ineffective' in Scientific American, July 2013:

"Whatever the reasons, such extreme isolation and sensory deprivation can take a severe, sometimes permanent, toll on emotional and mental health. Researchers have found that prisoners in solitary quickly become withdrawn, hypersensitive to sights and sounds, paranoid, and more prone to violence and hallucinations. 

Craig Haney, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has documented several cases of individuals with no prior history of mental illness who nonetheless developed paranoid psychosis requiring medical treatment after prolonged solitary confinement. As damaging as the consequences are for otherwise healthy adults, they are even worse for adolescents, whose brains are still in their final stages of development, and the mentally ill, who already struggle to maintain a solid grasp on reality. About half of all prison suicides occur in isolation cells. ....." 

Sunday, 14 June 2015

collaborative working to improve feedback mechanisms in Fife psychiatric settings: making it safer for patients and carers

Collaborative working with the Fife Patient Relations Team, an idea which was mooted in a phone call by the Manager, nearly 6 weeks ago.

NHS Fife website page
 My Email to the Patient Relations Manager at NHS Fife on 6 May at 12.22:

"Dear .........

Thank you for taking my call. 

I am interested in working with the NHS Fife Patient Relations team to improve the pathways for patients and carers raising concerns about psychiatric inpatient treatment and mental health services.

I think that my experiences of raising concerns and complaints, in Fife and elsewhere, with both health and social care, could be useful.  To highlight what worked and what didn't work.  To explore ways of making the process easier and safer for all concerned.  Especially from the patient and carer perspective.

There may be an opportunity to do a piece of work which could be a template for other Scottish areas also.  Particularly considering the health and social care integration agenda, and the challenges. 

It would be enjoyable to put into practise again my community development skills and systems thinking.  For most of my working life that's what I was about.  I like to think I was good at it.

Regards, Chrys" 

And a response from the Manager on 6 May 2015 at 17.51: 

"Dear Chrys 

Thank you for your email and for your interest in working with me to improve this aspect of our work, I look forward to working with you in the future. ..... 

.... my interest in working with you to progress the feedback/complaints mechanisms for service users/ families."


My blog post 7 May 2015: here is the challenge: making it safe to complain in psychiatric settings

An extract:

Here are some ways in which I think the pathway to complaining can be made straighter:
  • putting Experts by Experience (EbE) at the heart of the process
  • safeguards in place which are safe 
  • confidentiality scrupulously adhered to
  • management ensuring regular training of staff in responding to complaints, involving EbE who may be service users, psychiatric survivors, carers or family members with a range of views
  • de-personalising the procedure, taking away any "blame" aspect
  • training of managers in how to write letters of response to complaints which are neutral and blameless


Update: I am waiting to hear of possible dates for an initial meeting and sent a reminder Email on 9 June 2015.  No response as yet. 

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

new build IPCU photos taken 10 June 2015 evening, on way home from Cupar

main gate, building works to the left

road appearing

lilac Rhododendron bush behind the fence looking stressed

'Under-10s stricken by stress and depression' - no data for Fife - Playfield Institute, Stratheden Hospital

An Email sent this morning to Jim Hume MSP, copied in to Roderick Campbell MSP, Willie Rennie MSP, leader of the Scottish LibDems and local NE Fife lad, former pupil of Bell Baxter High, Cupar.  Also NHS Fife senior managers, including Playfield Institute high heid yins, and senior civil servants:

Strapline: 'Under-10s stricken by stress and depression' - what about the health boards who don't have the data? - Playfield Institute, Stratheden Hospital, Fife

"Dear Mr Hume

I am writing to you about the Scotsman piece on 6 June 2015 'Under-10s stricken by stress and depression'.  In which you are quoted and your photo centre stage. 

I was concerned but not surprised to see these figures.  Recently at a Carers' conference in Dundee I was sitting at a table with a young carer and paid workers from the Dundee Carers Centre.  The young carer spoke of being prescribed antidepressants when aged 12.  One of the workers said that approximately one third of secondary school pupils in Dundee were on antidepressants.  This worker had previously been with the Aberlour Childcare Trust in a post for many years.  I assumed that his comments about young people were based on experience and had some accuracy.

I was pleased to hear you in the newspaper article again call for Parity of Esteem between mental and physical health services: “It is long past time that the Scottish Government started taking mental ill health seriously, starting by putting equality between physical and mental health services in law.”.  I have heard you speak out about this in Scottish Parliament and about other mental health matters, making sense.

What particularly stood out for me in the piece was this quote:

"Health boards in Tayside, Orkney, Lothian, Fife, Forth Valley and Western Isles did not have the specific data available or said it would cost too much to find the answers."

I live in Fife and have family members living in Tayside.  The fact these health board areas do not have the details about children accessing health services for "stress, anxiety and depression" is very concerning.  I am not reassured by the quote from Jamie Hepburn MSP that “We are committed to ensuring that children and young people, of any age, get access to high quality mental health services.”.  A statement of intent with no evidence to back it up whatsoever.  

I am wondering why Fife does not have the details?  The Playfield Institute (a resource for anyone working with or caring for children and young people) is based at Stratheden Hospital, Fife, and was set up in 2005: "The Playfield Institute, at Stratheden Hospital, Cupar, will help NHS Fife, Fife Council and the voluntary sector improve mental health services for children and teenagers." from this article:

And from their website:

"Playfield Institute was set up in 2005 by NHS Fife in direct response to the recommendations made by the Scottish Needs Assessment Programme (SNAP) Report of Children and Young People's Mental Health (2003). The report indicated that many people working with children and young people needed further training and support when dealing with mental health issues."

Fife has a resource which claims to train CAMHS workers yet they don't have the details about children receiving treatment for mental health issues.  How daft is that?  In my opinion it demonstrates bad management of resources, a lack of transparency and accountability.

I am copying my MSP Rod Campbell into this Email and Willie Rennie MSP, leader of the Scottish LibDems, a local lad who went to Bell Baxter High, Cupar, same as my boys.  Also senior managers at NHS Fife, including Playfield Institute staff, and senior civil servants at Scottish Government.

I'm an unwaged carer, pensioner and voluntary mental health activist.  I get right fed up with having to keep reminding NHS Fife highly paid managers how to do their job and personally having to pick the pieces up after traumatic and dehumanising psychiatric treatment.  It is way beyond time that public servants were held accountable for their actions or lack of.

Yours sincerely,

Chrys Muirhead (Mrs)"

Monday, 8 June 2015

FOI Request response: NHS Fife complaints/concerns: 2010-2015; 2%-3% mental health but I am not persuaded

Today I received a response (see charts below) to my FOI Request: NHS Fife complaints and concerns statistical breakdown 2010-2015.  

Stratheden Hospital complaints in this period - 2010:5; 2011:6; 2012:2; 2013:2; 2014:4; and so far in 2015:4.  Not sure if this is Jan-Dec or Apr-Mar and I have sent an Email to the FOI Lead Officer asking for confirmation.  

Also there are other factors to consider, for example patient numbers, duration of stay, bearing in mind that there has been a rehabilitation programme over recent years to discharge medium and long-stay patients into the community.  (my FOI request in 2013 regarding this discharge process)

I raised many complaints over the months of February and March 2012 while my son was an inpatient of the IPCU/Ward 4 and Lomond Ward.  A constant stream of Emails to senior managers in NHS Fife and Fife Council Social Work Service, to Scottish Government senior civil servants and to the Mental Welfare Commission CEO.  

Overall the NHS Fife complaints about mental health treatment compared to physical health treatment are very low in number, around 2%-3%.  It demonstrates the limitation of statistics on their own which tell us very little.  Qualitative feedback on every patient experience is crucial in finding out what's going on in psychiatric settings.

Low numbers of complaints does not necessarily equate to high patient satisfaction.  In all the years that my family were inpatients of Stratheden Hospital, from 1995-2012, we were never asked to complete a feedback form on our patient or carer experience. 

What I can see from the FOI response is that the complaints about Victoria Hospital more than doubled in number between 2011 and 2012, the concerns nearly tripling in that same period.  Whereas Queen Margaret Hospital complaints nearly halved in size that year, similarly with numbers of concerns.

I note that Forth Park Hospital complaints went from 27 in 2010 and 30 in 2011 to single figures in 2012.  Down to zero in 2015 so far. 

I am not persuaded or convinced that people using mental health services in Fife are able to raise complaints or are free to do so.  The costs are likely to be too high.  I can testify to this, having raised a number of concerns in 2010 about the treatment of patients and the behaviour of nurses in Lomond Ward.

Then in January 2012 it was very difficult for my son to access crisis support despite having a CPN.  Even after going to the police station and asking for help.  On 1 February 2012 my son had to take himself up to Stratheden Hospital in an attempt to get help.  The staff's response was to call the police.

There were many attempts made to lay the blame on me for what happened to my son inside Stratheden Hospital.  The "unreasonable" and dehumanising treatment.  Locked seclusion room with no toilet, drinking water, light switch outside, left for hours overnight unobserved, broken hand untreated.

spectacle cloth
Accusations of "psychological harm" and "difficult and demanding mother" were written down, in Adult Protection Investigation reports and in hospital "notes".  Much of which read like a work of fiction.  Fairy tales in the land of make-believe.  I contend it was because I raised complaints and advocated for my son at clinical meetings in the IPCU. 

Scepticism and unbelief, of the need for coercive treatment and the reality of mental illness, kept me sane in an otherwise mad world of bullying behaviour masquerading as "care and treatment".  The traits of determination and persistence stood me in good stead during the justice quest.  Resisting the force.

page one of letter from Norma Aitken, FOI Lead Officer, NHS Fife

board on display at new build IPCU information session Stratheden 13 May 2015

Saturday, 6 June 2015

'What the Research Has Told Us About Peer-Run Respite Houses: The Second Story Story' Santa Cruz, California

'What the Research Has Told Us About Peer-Run Respite Houses: The Second Story Story' by Yana Jacobs on Mad in America, 4 June 2015:

view from 2nd Story Santa Cruz
"The Second Story Peer Respite House, located in Santa Cruz, California, is completing their five-year funding cycle with a Mental Health Transformation Grant awarded by SAMHSA. The intent was to implement and evaluate the effectiveness of peer respites in promoting wellness and supporting individuals experiencing psychological distress through community-based alternatives to psychiatric emergency services.

When Second Story opened its doors in the fall of 2011, we were the first peer respite house in California, and the seventh peer respite in the nation. The experience of "transformation" has been alive and well in Santa Cruz County over the past five years as the community joined together, built new collaborations, flattened traditional hierarchies, and embraced the core values of Shery Mead’s model and practice of Intentional Peer Support."

"Here are a few Quotes that were recorded by the evaluators upon surveying the guests at 2nd Story:

"I don’t feel 'less than' in this environment. I feel like across the table we’re all equals. Even though I’m not peer staff, still... [In traditional crisis services] I may have come out of this feeling like somehow I’m defective. You know, if this wasn’t around and there was just the hospital and crisis house, I would feel in those environments very mentally ill. Like, labeled that. Like, ‘These are mentally ill patients.’ And I’m not a patient. I’m a person. And I get treated like a full human being.

"I really like that we [guests and staff] can have a real serious conversation between each other and exchange information from each other. It is not like a one-way talking… it is a two-way relationship and communication, and it’s really genuine… We’re just really real with each other. And they tell me when something’s not working for them… They’re real. It’s like a friendship instead of a very closed, cold-hearted professional support… There’s connection. There’s real connection at 2nd Story."

"I’d say that [Second Story] gave you a sense of identity. It gave you a sense of belonging. It showed me that there are people whose minds work the way mind does who are in control of their minds, don’t let their minds control them—who are hugely intelligent and really run their own lives."

Read complete blog post


"Enjoy an introduction to this crisis respite program, operated in Santa Cruz, CA. 

For more information on these and other similar programs, visit: "

Friday, 5 June 2015

only an excuse

The fact that NHS Fife will not work with me, or allow me to work with them, to improve services at Stratheden Hospital, saying they find it "difficult" to work with me is only an excuse.

I could work with them but it would require honesty, congruence and a facing up to the reality of the situation.  I would not be letting them away with anything less.  A bullying culture has to be challenged, dehumanising treatment does not benefit anyone.

But even if they won't work with me I will still be working for, and with, them, from a distance.  Bringing pressure to bear from the outside.  On the wing.

The pain I feel, at what happened to my son, I will endeavour to use constructively, channel it into writing and campaigning so as to influence positive change. 

And if my MSP, who is a human rights lawyer to trade, will not do the business of standing with us, advocating and speaking out for the human rights of detained mental patients and against psychiatric abuse, then I will have to do the job instead.

To this end I plan to stand at the next Scottish Parliamentary elections as an independent candidate.  Mounting a long campaign, starting after the summer vacation.  Writing a manifesto.  Engaging with the public.  Paying for the privilege. 

It won't be easy but it's a matter of principle and of justice.