Dear Mr Leitch: my comment on Herald article about your Holy Land trip – Bernays, public relations and propaganda

Jason Leitch from Herald piece

Jason Leitch from Herald piece

Here is an Email just sent, 13 June 2015, to Dr Jason Leitch, national clinical director, Healthcare Quality Scottish Government, IHI fellow:

Strapline: my comment on Herald article about your Holy Land trip – Bernays, public relations and propaganda – Century of the Self

“Dear Mr Leitch

For interest, here is a comment written by me and published on the Herald article which mentions your trip to the Holy Land extolling patient safety in Scotland: ‘Scots doctor shares expertise with Israeli medics’:

Screenshot attached (comment below).

“”You don’t instigate change by deciding what that change is and then writing people a letter telling them to do it. You talk to people. We offer safe and effective ‘person-centred’ care – and our results speak for themselves.” says Mr Leitch. Unfortunately this is not the whole story in Scotland. Healthcare Improvement Scotland does not talk to ALL people. 

I won an Ombudsman complaint against NHS Fife in September 2014 for the “unreasonable treatment” of my son in Stratheden Hospital, Cupar, Fife.  Where they had been using a locked seclusion room with no toilet or water to drink, light switch outside, to “manage” the patients.  For hours at a time, unobserved.  My son had a broken hand when locked in this room.  Basic human rights denied.  Resulting in glandular infection and a series of verrucas, plus the flashbacks from the dehumanising treatment.   I have been left out of Scottish Patient Safety Programme events despite asking to be included.  No critical voices allowed.

I know there are issues with hospital infections in Fife because I have heard it discussed at the health board meetings at which I spectate regularly.  Problems with lack of basic hand-washing by staff.  Similarly in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, where unhygienic practices have led to complaints, wards having to be deep-cleaned.

There are a number of cases in Scotland at this time to do with staff who have whistleblowed and suffered for it.  Spoken out about unsafe practices and were reprimanded or lost jobs because of it.  Mr Leitch’s rhetoric may be persuasive in the Holy Land but in Scotland the full picture, I contend, is not as rosy.  Patient safety is not guaranteed and whistleblowers risk exclusion and worse for speaking out.

You mention the “person-centred approach” in this piece.  As if in Scotland we are practising what you preach.  The reality is very different, regardless of the positive spin being put on it.  I can testify to this, not just in mental health settings, but in my experiences of physical healthcare treatment, and hearing it from others.

It reminds me of the American consumerism movement, public relations and propaganda, courtesy of Bernays, linked to Freud.  Which I learned about in more detail when scribing for my son in his 4th year Sociology degree classes at Abertay University 2013/4.  Bernays who said “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society“.  However this won’t wash in Scotland, I contend.  Our roots are in different soil.

I recommend viewing or re-viewing ‘Century of the Self‘ which I found a fascinating series that made sense and enlarged my understanding:

Yours sincerely,

Chrys Muirhead (Mrs)

Copying in HIS and SPSP colleagues, and civil servants”

my Herald comment

my Herald comment


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