Posted: June 30, 2014 Filed under: News | Tags: a&e, anxiety, British Medical Association's, crisis, government, Mental Health Care, mental health issues, mental health services, mental health system, Mental Illness, NHS budget, physical illness, research, Rethink Mental Illness, royal college of psychiatrists, schizoaffective disorder, vulnerable people
Vulnerable people like me are being put at risk by cuts to essential services, and I’ve already given up trying to get support
The mental health system is in crisis. It’s a car crash waiting to happen.
That’s according to Prof Sue Bailey, the outgoing president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, in an interview earlier this week. Her comments came a day before the British Medical Association’s annual meeting, where delegates were told that cuts to mental health services are resulting in avoidable deaths and suicides. Sadly, neither of these stories told me anything I didn’t already know. I’ve seen at first-hand how the mental health system is failing vulnerable people. For many of us dealing with mental illness, the car crash has already happened.
In fact, my experiences of mental health care were so bad that a few years ago I completely gave up on trying to get support. I’d been going through a period of severe anxiety and had waited for months to see a therapist. But after a few sessions, she told me she was being transferred. I’d have to go back on the waiting list and start all over again.
The whole experience made my anxiety worse, so I decided I’d be better off looking after myself. That can be a real challenge because I have a long-term and serious mental illness, schizoaffective disorder. Sometimes I struggle and need support, but like many people with mental health issues, I find it difficult to ask for help. That’s partly because of the stigma around mental illness, but it’s also because I’m afraid of going back into the mental health system.
It’s been the same story since I first tried to get help when I was 17. I was feeling suicidal, but the waiting lists were so long that I didn’t get the therapy I needed. If I’d had a serious physical illness, I’d have been treated within 18 weeks, but there are no maximum waiting times for mental illness, so people can wait for years to get support. Many people miss out altogether.
My mental health gradually got worse, until eventually I reached crisis point and had a breakdown. I was taken to A&E after being found walking down the middle of a busy dual carriageway. There were no beds available, so they just sent me away with a handful of Valium.
After that I gave up hope, and decided to end my own life. Luckily for me, a stranger stopped me and talked me out of it. He gave me a simple message of hope – that I could get better. I’d never been told that before, and it changed everything for me.
From that day, things started to improve, and earlier this year I launched a campaign to find the good Samaritan who’d helped me. My search was made into a documentary, Finding Mike. Since then I’ve been inundated with messages from people who’ve been through the same kind of thing. It really brought home to me how much we’re all affected by mental health issues. All of us know someone who’s faced mental illness. But too often people tell me they’ve been let down by the system.
The fact is that not enough money is spent on care. Mental health accounts for around 23% of the disease burden in the UK, but gets just 13% of the NHS budget. Worse still, spending on mental health has been slashed even further over the past few years.
It is not just people with mental illness that have been let down. I know many doctors and nurses who feel incredibly frustrated that they can’t provide the care they want to because of the cuts.
We can improve the system, but the government needs to listen to the patients, carers and organisations who know the system best.
Research by the charity Rethink Mental Illness shows that early intervention services – which help people from the moment they become ill – make a huge difference in helping patients recover, and also save the NHS money. With the right treatment, people can get better. But instead of getting much-needed investment, these services are facing major cuts. It means that millions of people are suffering because they can’t get support, and each day 16 people in the UK take their own lives.
That’s why we must keep putting pressure on the government until it takes real action to give people with mental illness the care that we deserve. At the moment I’m going through another period of anxiety, and I should feel that I can get the support I need. It’s not right that people like me so often go through this alone.
Via Bridget via http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/27/mental-health-system-crisis-vulnerable-people
Posted: June 30, 2014 Filed under: Southwark, Training | Tags: Free training sessions, National Patient Participation group, NHS Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group, Opportunity, Patient Leader Skills Training, patient leadership training, patient training sessions, Patient voice, Southwark Patients and residents
We now have new dates for our patient training sessions that will be taking place in July. Copies of the flyers are attached to this email for your information.
Patient Leadership training – 16 July 2014 – Poster
Patient Leader Skills training – 23 July 2014 – Poster
These sessions are being run again following the high demand and interest in them when they ran earlier in the year. You can see details about the events on our public website too.
As part of National Patient Participation group week this week we also held an event on Tuesday to share skills and knowledge between practices. Thank you to all of the patients and practice staff who came along and helped to make it a really engaging session. You can find the presentations and resources from the event on our website under ‘Developing the patient voice’.
We look forward to seeing you soon.
Membership, Engagement and Communications
NHS Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group
Postal Address: 1st Floor, Hub 5, PO Box 64529 London SE1P 5LX
Base: 160 Tooley St London SE1 2QH
Telephone: 020 7525 7888
Media: 020 3049 3333
Out of Hours Media: 07876 448 602
Posted: June 26, 2014 Filed under: ESA, DLA, PIP & Universal Credit, News | Tags: commissioners, Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), DWP, government, Home office, Iain Duncan Smith, IDS loses legal appeal, NHS reforms, taxpayer, tribunal, Universal Credit, Universal credit problems
Iain Duncan Smith’s latest effort to prevent the publication of documents warning of the dangers of universal credit has been dismissed by a judge.
You can see the desperation quite clearly now. IDS’ team are throwing any old legal argument at the wall to see if it will stick. The judge’s casual dismissal of the arguments seems to show a flicker of resentment at having to hear them at all.
Quick recap: The information commissioner ruled the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) should release documents about the progress of universal credit, an assessment of independent reviews and a record of problems with it. He ruled against the release of a risk register – a department document listing possible problems with the scheme – but a tribunal overruled him and said it too should be published.
Basically, this is IDS’ worst nightmare: documentary evidence of the problems his department imagined universal credit could have, the scale of the problems which eventually transpired, and proof of whether they deliberately misled the public about the progress of the programme.
The DWP insisted publication would have a “chilling effect” on the working of the department – a standard defence against disclosure last used by Andrew Lansley to prevent publication of the risk register into his disastrous NHS reforms. The information tribunal ruled there was no evidence of that but that there was “strong public interest” in publication.
IDS appealed, as the government always does in these things. The DWP’s first argument was that the tribunal misunderstood the nature of the chilling effect and the evidence needed to support that argument.
Judge Wikeley gave it short shrift.
“[The chilling effect] is a well known concept, and I can see no support for the argument that the tribunal misunderstood its meaning. The opening sentence of paragraph 62 might perhaps have been better phrased, but it seems to me still some way from suggesting an arguable error of law. The tribunal was surely saying that whilst it heard Ms Cox’s [Sarah Cox, director of Universal Credit programme coordination, witness for the DWP] claim that disclosure would have a chilling effect, neither she nor the department provided any persuasive evidence to that effect.”
“In my view the tribunal here has done exactly what it is meant to do when weighing up the competing considerations in the application of the public interest test. It is plain from its comprehensive and cogent reasons that it has considered the evidence… applied its expertise and reached a decision that the chilling effect argument was unpersuasive.”
The DWP’s second argument – and this is where they get really desperate – is for ‘perversity. This states that the tribunal reached a decision which no reasonable tribunal, on a proper appreciation of the evidence and the law, would have reached. It’s obviously a very high threshold which they did little to reach.
Judge Wikeley found:
“This challenge, in my assessment, does not get near clearing this high hurdle. The tribunal identified the relevant issues, analysed the material evidence, made its findings and in that context reached its conclusions, explaining why it had done so. It seems to me its approach was entirely sustainable. The perversity ground is not arguable.”
Finally they tried to argue, weirdly, that the tribunal had not given due weight to the expertise of the DWP’s witness, Ms Cox. This was irrelevant, Judge Wikeley found. He said:
“An appeal to the upper tribunal is confined to a point of law. Upper tribunal judges cannot substitute their own view of the facts for that taken by the tribunal – not least as the tribunal is an expert tribunal in this specialist field. In my view this proposed ground of appeal, as with the second, adds nothing to the first ground of appeal on the chilling effect. I conclude it is not arguable.”
So there you have it. God knows how much taxpayer money dedicated to making these frivolous legal appeals – all in a bid to save the work and pension’s secretary’s blushes.
When we ask the Home Office, they refuse to answer. I’ll fire off a Freedom of Information request to the DWP on their legal costs later today, but I doubt the answer will be any different. The government is very good at not recording data it wishes to remain secret.
When there are disability benefits which need cutting, every pound counts. When it’s the secretary of state who needs saving, the government’s wallet bursts at the seams.
Posted: June 26, 2014 Filed under: Arts, Southwark | Tags: Bethlem Museum, Chanting-Works, Massage, Meditation Works, Mon 30 June @ The Dragon Café, the Anxiety 2014 Festival, The dragon cafe, Yoga-Works
Enjoy our Oasis of Calm
On the final Monday in June we invite you to try one (or more) of our creative groups or simply relax into the atmosphere, and enjoy the fantastic food. You can try Chanting-Works at 1.30 pm, Yoga-Works at 2.30 pm, Meditation-Works at 3.30 pm and Massage is available between 12 – 6 pm. As we say fond farewells to the Anxiety 2014 Festival we are also looking forward with a visit from the Bethlem Museum at 2 pm, exploring ideas of sanctuary and asylum, and helping us plan activities for September. Tea & cake provided!
Posted: June 25, 2014 Filed under: Southwark | Tags: Borough market, Borough Market traders donate unsold produce to Dragon Cafe, creative space, FoodSave project, Guy's and St Thomas' Charity, Market Hall garden, Mental Illness, Recovery, The dragon cafe
A new food waste initiative at Borough Market will benefit the Dragon Cafe, the weekly creative space for those going through mental illness and recovery.
Unsold bread, fruit and vegetables from Borough Market are collected by FoodSave, with the help of Plan Zheroes, at the end of Saturday trading and donated to the Dragon Cafe.
Borough Market was linked up with Dragon Cafe by the FoodSave project which offers free support to small and medium sized food businesses in London to help them reduce food waste.
The development of the scheme has been supported by Plan Zheroes, which finds, supports and inspires food businesses that are willing to donate their surplus food to local charities.
A weekly open creative space for all – with an emphasis on those going through mental illness and recovery – the Dragon Cafe relaunched its weekly sessions in February this year with the backing of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity.
Open every Monday from 12 noon to 8.30pm, the Dragon Cafe provides a safe, stimulating and creative space for more than 200 people each week in the crypt of St George the MartyrChurch in Borough High Street.
“Borough Market is committed to inspiring people about food, creativity and sustainability – whether it’s our 100 per cent landfill free policy or collecting coffee grounds from our restaurants to use in our Market Hall garden,” said Keith Davis, the market’s managing director.
“Working with FoodSave, we are proud to be doing our bit to reduce as much food waste as possible, before using surplus food to feed people in need.”
The Borough Market traders involved to date are the Bread Ahead Bakery, Karaway Bakery, Olivier’s Bakery, Ted’s Veg and Paul Wheeler (Fresh Supplies) Ltd.
Charlotte Jarman, FoodSave project officer at Sustain, said: “We are very excited to be working with such an iconic London food destination as Borough Market to divert surplus food to good causes such as the Dragon Cafe.
“Let’s hope that this move inspires other markets around the capital to set up similar schemes.”