Capacity and Consent – Scottish Parliament has to act – Scottish Government has to serve and be accountable

[An Email response I wrote this morning to a mental health human rights campaigner who had sent his paper on Capacity and Consent which was “relevant to the two petitions” that he “submitted to the Public Petitions Committee”.  I was copied in to his Email along with a number of fellow campaigners, journalists, law experts, MSPs and others.]


“Dear …… thanks for your Email.

I agree with you that “a conference that incorporated campaigners, mental health professionals, human rights experts and legal experts” makes perfect sense and would enable frank and honest discussions, all voices to be heard, more level playing fields and meaningful involvement.  

I was excluded from the Scottish Patient Safety Programme for Mental Health (SPSP-MH) events from its inception until the present day.  Why?  Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) chair Denise Coia gave no full explanation and neither did Ruth Glassborow who used to work with Scottish Government and now works with HIS.  The only reason given was that if I attended then “others” wouldn’t attend.  No good reason whatsoever.  And then I received an Email from Dr Coia, apparently mistakenly sent to me, which talked about me.  I also questioned the allocation of places for the IIMHL in Manchester, but as usual got no response.

I believe that I was excluded from patient safety events because of the dehumanising treatment perpetrated on my son in Stratheden Hospital in February 2012.  At the time this happened I was a member of the Scottish Crisis and Acute Care Network Steering Group, whose co-leader was Dr David Hall, also lead on the SPSP-MH,  The crisis steering group therefore was a party to all that happened with my son in the seclusion room of the Stratheden IPCU.  There could have been no dubiety because I wrote blog posts about it at time, in detail.

I complained again about being excluded, this time in June from celebrations at Edinburgh Castle where fellow psychiatric survivors and mental health service users were invited to an event with Alex Neil, MSP and CabSec for Health (I saw photos on Facebook), and I wasn’t.  I wrote an Email about it on the morning of 24 June 2014, to Alex Neil, Michael Matheson, Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond, then forwarded it to Geoff Huggins and his colleagues on the SG mental health division.  And then at 5pm 24 June I received a bullying and undermining Email from Mr Huggins which slandered my intentions and character.

On 25 June I had been booked to present a paper at the Liverpool INTAR conference, on the Mental Health Act Safeguards, and had to give apologies due to being upset at Mr Huggins Email which hurt me because of its unfair allegations about my character.  Then on the 27 June my son had to call out the paramedics on my behalf due to blood pressure issues.

On 29 September 2014 I received a letter from SPSO telling me that my complaint against NHS Fife, in respect of “unreasonable treatment” of my son in the Stratheden IPCU seclusion room, was upheld.  He had been locked in for hours on end with no toilet, drinking water, light switch outside, broken hand untreated.  He had also been transferred in his underpants and bare feet, I was a witness, by porters, without any covering, between acute and locked wards, in a minibus.  I saw his shame from outside in the car park where I had been left to stand for hours.

I agree that there does seem to be a “cover up” and a silencing of critical voices in Scotland’s mental health world.  No dissenters allowed.  Furthermore there is a maligning of reputations when we will not be silenced or “shut up and go to bed”, as I was told by a VOX (national mental health service user organisation) Board member.  The chair of the VOX Board is employed by NHS, works with HIS.  A conflict of interest.  They are more of a focus group of government (FoG) rather than a member led group, to the detriment of “meaningful involvement”.

Even the other week at a Mental Welfare Commission consultation in Edinburgh I had two VOX Board members bending my ear about their Board Chair and her links with HIS and Scottish Government.  As if I could do something about it.  No I can’t.  I have tried and the game’s a bogey.  If the world is watching Scotland in terms of mental health matters or the work of Healthcare Improvement Scotland then what they are hearing from HIS on social networking is nothing like the reality.  That’s for sure.  

“If ye want to ken us then come and bide wi’ us.”  The reality of being a mental (psychiatric) patient in Scotland is one of Russian Roulette and a postcode lottery.  Nothing is guaranteed.  Patients aren’t safe.  Mental Health Act safeguards don’t work, in my experience of both NHS Fife and NHS Tayside, Stratheden Hospital in 2012, Carseview Centre in 2013.  I knew my rights and we knew the MH Act but that made no difference because the Act was not implemented properly or monitored effectively.

Mental Health Tribunals are weighted in favour of the “professionals”, the patients are often drugged up before attending.  Advance Statements are altered by psychiatrists to fit their regime.  Named Persons if they also happen to be mothers and carers are not respected.  Independent Advocacy isn’t independent and isn’t available when you really need it, the workers are paid a pittance compared to other “professionals”.  In my experience Mental Health Officers behaved unprofessionally and the Mental Welfare Commission were wise after the event and had no power to influence health boards to improve buildings that they had declared “unfit for purpose”.

I hope that you will be heard, that justice will be done, that Scottish Parliament will act and that Scottish Government civil servants will be accountable.

Yours sincerely,

Chrys Muirhead (Mrs)”

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