On Sunday when in the Ceres Centre shop at Stratheden psychiatric Hospital, Fife, 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‘
— Chrys Muirhead (@ChrysMuirhead) March 22, 2015
— Chrys Muirhead (@ChrysMuirhead) March 22, 2015
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.
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]
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.
Chrys Muirhead (Mrs)”