Suspension of the blog

Dear all,

While I thank you all very much, service users, staff and the third sector, for your emails to SLaM, it seems pretty clear that the Trust has no intention of listening to you.

I’m finding it too stressful continuing and feeling like a sitting duck, so we’re closing the blog now, so this will be the last post. This means that I no longer have to deal with the Trust re the blog, rather than continuing until the 8th September, as previously notified.

I had previously asked Bridget and Matthew if they wanted to say anything to you, so if they do, I will post this by 8th September. If they do I will then repost this so that it remains at the top.

To continue the blog we need £5000 each year, from an organisation that can pay me PAYE. To continue to run our other Social Media we need £4000, subject to the same conditions. We very much hope that funding will be offered in the future, as we all passionately believe in the work that we do :-).

If you have any offers to make, or if you wish to explore this further, please email me at

You can see the history of this via the following links:

I have been given a very small amount of funding until the end of October and will be using this time / £ to reply to people who send us things to post by emailing them this post; advising them that for now we are closed, so to take us off their mailing lists; and advising them that if they subscribe to the blog then they will hear if it is subsequently reactivated, at which point we can take postings again.

Here are some of the emails we’ve been copied into recently, asking for reconsideration about the future of the blog:

It seems that most people who have written in since we asked last month have not / are not being responded to; however, in one that was responded to, The Trust specifically mentioned that they would be working with Bridget and Matthew, who run our other social media, so we can only assume from this that they do not intend to be working with me / the blog:

“We are looking at new plans for communicating the work of those on the involvement register, and how we can support service users more widely, to forge their own networks and engage with staff SLaM. Social media is as you say a very important tool. I am working with those who run the Twitter site and the Facebook page for TWIG Ops to look at how best we can take things forward.”

This is despite them earlier giving me this assurance: “Hi D. Matthew and Bridget both contacted me after our last meeting to say that they would be happy to help out between now and September if needed. More than happy to seek your views too if you would like to offer them.”

Last year we were told that our social media was specifically excluded from the Review of Involvement, but now this review is being quoted by the Trust, where there is no reference to us:

“These developments are part of a wider review of the involvement register. The Board paper (reviewed and approved by the Board on 27 May) is here if you need more information:”

Next they told us to change our blog address, which they knew was impossible:

“If you have decided to keep the site inactive (rather than shutting it down) then you will need to make sure you use the time to remove all associations to (and mentions of) South London and Maudsley / SLaM / SLaMTWIGOPs from the blog. This includes the domain name for the blog which reads as: slamtwigops”

and then quickly backtracked:

“To explain, there is no pressure for the TWIGOPs blog site to be removed or deleted. Those running the blog may decide to continue it if they choose to. My request was that the blog site (which is now named ‘South London Involvement Forum’)  change its WordPress domain address from the old SLaM one, to match its new name, given that SLaM will not be paying for the blog to run.

If we are able to accept posts in the future you will need to send them to me at and not to

Thank you again for making this such a wonderful resource for the last 3 and a half years!  It’s been a complete joy to be working with you all, spreading the word 🙂

With very best wishes,


Blog administrator

Recent emails in support of the blog


I still haven’t received a satisfactory response, or in fact any response to my email of 21 July 2014, although I have (somewhat ironically) been updated generically via South London Involvement Forum.

I now have a couple of supplementary questions:

Why, as appears to be the case, are SLaM pushing to close down a service user resource rather than supporting them to find alternative funding?

What has become of Public and Patient Involvement within SLaM since the end of TWIG ops, TWIG strategic and PEG which in October 2013 were dissolved to make way for a ‘newer more effective group’ which would, we were told, be a ‘ new beginning would start the new process of bridging the bottom to the top (sic)’

I ask these as a former member of both TWIG ops and TWIG strategic and as a current member of SLaM”


“If you are not happy with D’s performance running the blog then you will need to review her and dismiss her.  If you are ending the project anyway (due to this big review) you would make D redundant, and then simply not rehire her.  However…

If D has done a good job you’ll get trouble from your reps.  Obviously I haven’t seen the whole story, but if the blog is as good as it appears to be then that would suggest D has done a good job.  Sacking good staff is usually a bad plan.”


“Dear Colleagues,

I emphasise I write today in a personal capacity, not on behalf of the organisations I’m currently or previously employed by.

The news earlier this year that the blog had to close was a surprise to me to say the least, as if anything, I would have expected a maintenance, if not raise in official Trust support.

Having worked directly in service user involvement with organisations based in Southwark, and previously a ‘member’ of SLaM’s Trust-wise Personalisation steering group, and a member of the former Southwark LINk mental health sub-group, the blog was a vital source of both information – often in a format I could disseminate to e.g. self-advocacy skills training course trainees, and news available to an audience I knew that was interested in viewing it, diverse, and unique in the extent of reach achievable.

I still subscribe to the e-bulletins, and I agree with other views that not to have the blog resource is bad enough, but not to have an archive copy would be a severe loss to both the mental health service user/survivor civil rights movement and national archive, and the Trusts own record of activity, and indeed achievement in many areas, in my view.

For individuals, their stories, peaks and troughs often depicted in news of new ventures, gains celebrated, calls for participation – Trust employees and public, will again be unjustly and adversely affected if the blog is lost, and not accessible. Is the Trust offering to resource transition?

I’ve viewed, or been involved in NHS initiatives, including I believe at SLaM, that always appeared to me to be heading for a false economy, in financial and with regard to the human cost.

I therefore personally urge you to consider whether or not the intended ending of this well-respected service is in the best interests of the people the Trust exists to serve across its extensive domains; and, if you can really summon up as much strength of feeling as the numerous people have expressed toward keeping the blog, in going about the Trust’s business completing its shut-down with the associated risk of making it inaccessible.”


“I wrote (to one of the Comms team, CCing the CEO) a few weeks ago expressing my concern about the ceasing of funding for the SLAM TWIGOps social media, and in particular, its blog.  I was really disappointed that there was no response to me from SLAM, let alone acknowledgement how vitally important SLAMTWIGOps has been in my health, given that all SLAM treatments have done for me is to undermine my condition, with the SLAM TWIGOps being the only ‘open door’ that allowed me to discover third sector opportunities which have at least marginally stabilised my health.

The SLAM TWIGOps social media was entirely consistent with SLAM’s claim of approaches to empower patients and to draw on peer support, and with it costing so very little it is bizarre that SLAM have taken such a non-cost effective, and non-strategic approach, in eliminating this valuable resource.

I have now heard that SLAM has put pressure on the SLAM TWIGOps ‘archive’ to be deleted/the site removed.  This is entirely inappropriate.  Whilst it will be *nothing* compared to its ‘live’ version, the archive will nevertheless still prove invaluable information, directing patients/carers/those alienated from services to information sources which may still be operating.

This whole situation is reflecting very badly on both SLAM’s management and communications activities.”

“I’m going to say this once, and once only.  Cover-ups solve nothing.
The reason why I am saying this is because you want to destroy the much-loved SLAM TWIG Ops blog.  You want to disassociate SLAM with it, by either having it moved or destroyed.

I can only assume you are panicking about Govt funding, and have gone too far.

PPI is part of Recovery, and Service Users are allowed an opinion ( by law ).  As such to destroy a record of those real opinions is clearly VERY dodgy.  It doesn’t matter if they approve or oppose Govt decisions; they are allowed to have this view ( as voters ).  Funding is different, fair enough; as that is the gagging bill; but even so.  Denying Service Users a voice on Welfare Benefits Issues ( which is political, obviously ) is clearly not going to help anyone recover.
Leave them alone, or I’ll raise the issue with Croydon CCG.  I do not like how you are working at present I have to say.  Destroying the evidence is EXTREMELY bad practice.  I understand The Law has been changed re funding ( in the year leading up to a General Election ), but even so.  In normal times you are allowed to collect data and pass it to both commissioners & Ministers ( gentle Lobbying ).  And after Election 2015 you will be allowed to fund it again, so will need the historical record so you can compare & contrast over time.  It’s just in the current year that things have got a bit weird.

Steve understands this, so I suggest you learn from him on this one.   As a Comms manager I’m surprised that you’d make this mistake, but there you go.”

“For me, the TWIG Ops (along with Sue’s Involvement Register) are at the heart of SLaM service user involvement, and these two places are always my first port of call.

I hope you will be able to find some money to continue facilitating involvement work in South London – regardless of whether it is under the SLaM badge or not.

There definitely needs to be a hub through which involvement opportunities can be advertised, since there is too much of a need for involvement work.

Many of my colleagues would agree with me here. This is a really big loss.”


“I have read your recent comments and the notes, thank you.

I would say this whole issue is about ‘control’ rather than ‘funding’.
They must have found their old copy of ‘1984’  to read again.. join the Inner Party, or else the Prols!
Their printed magazine  does not even mention the names of the editorial staff…unwelcoming and impersonal.

You clearly do have a good fanbase and could maybe continue posting your comments and links to all the interesting events that we like to read about, without being officially ‘from SLaM’… Maud’s Special Links Associates, maybe?

I suppose that would have to be on a voluntary spare-time basis; how much would the overheads be, for Matthew reporting from events as he usually does so well, for example?

Or raising sponsorship from a walk around Ruskin Park?

Otherwise I would still receive official emails from SLaM, being on their database, and it would be interesting to compare their editorial content and entertainment value!”

“I want to register the disappointment of myself, colleagues and members at [x] on hear that Slamtwig will no longer be funded.  I get lots of excellent information about what is happening through the network,  which I print and present to our members in our information exchange meetings.  I get to read and hear a diversity of opinions from people using services that are valued by us and add to the co-production of activities designed for delivery here.  It will be genuinely missed.”

“I’ve read that funding of the SLaM Involvement Forums’ online presence is due to stop in the near future.

I use your social media in several ways;

  • as a member of SLaM and a former service user I continue to value my recovery and now I am no longer under services a large part of this is online. Whilst it is true that there is a vast amount of online information, blogs and social media around mental health I like things to be from a trusted and reliable source like SLaM (oh the joys of having paranoia in your diagnosisJ)
  • In my work role I send  in details of events and activities that are coming up which I know reach people we would otherwise not come into contact with
  • I hear about events which I may not be aware of and pass them onto our service users and disseminate them across my networks. I’m sure I’m not alone in doing this and this must extend the reach of the SLaM social media platforms far beyond the number of subscribers and visits.

People with a MH diagnosis are far less likely to use computers for a variety of reasons and I feel this decision moves them further from integration into the online community

I would be interested to know why, in an age where the power and importance of social media is growing by the day, funding has been taken from this resource.“


“I am writing to register my disappointment that the social media project SLAM TWIG Operations has had their funding cut.

In times where mental health services users’ benefits and services are being taken away, SLAM TWIGS was a beacon of light that gave hope through sharing opportunities and providing connections in a disconnecting world.

I, as a SLAM service user, found it invaluable in my recovery to move forward and not get lost in recovery’s no man land, where you pushed out of services with no signposts to help you on your way. SLAM TWIG provided some of those signposts.

Please reconsider your action.”


“I am a SLaM service user and member of the Involvement Register. I am writing to beg you to reconsider your decision to cut the funding from the service user blog. This is an invaluable form of social inclusion and involvement that myself and others benefit from everyday. If I am unable to get out of the house due to worsening of my condition, the blog keeps me informed and makes me feel connected to the community. When I am able to get involved, it offers me news and opportunities for bits of work, and also info about local groups, charities and advice. Mainly it is run by service users for service users so our views are represented and taken seriously.

I can’t believe the small amount it takes to run these services is deemed to be unnecessary. It will take away a valuable service and take away yet another small thing that improves the quality of my life.

I hope you take this view into account”


There were also some comments in reply to our posts, including this:

“Very sorry to see you go. The blog has been an independent, invaluable source of information to SUs (and some employees!) Many staff continue to strive to provide a caring, collaborative service but SLaM management appear to have forgotten their key remit i.e. supporting and enabling service users. I should know. I’ve been a patient for 11 years and SLaM is a shadow of its former self particularly in taking a holistic approach to the well being of SUs. Benefit advisors cut from CMHTs and withdrawal of funding for this independent forum (£6000 per annum) being cases in point. I couldn’t give a flying fiddle for ‘Bedlam’ and TV awards. Shame the same can not be said for Board and their henchmen (sic). An offer of improving Trust-led (i.e Trust manipulated) SU initiatives is merely short change.”


How to fund the NHS

fund the NHS from tax collection

Welcome to Healthwatch Southwark’s latest enewsletter

Hello Healthwatch Supporter!It’s all change for Healthwatch Southwark, find out about the changes…

Staff Updates
Now that Alvin has moved on to pastures new, we have undergone a recruitment process to select a new manager for Healthwatch Southwark.  We will announce who this is in due course, but in the meantime Sec-Chan our Development Officer will be acting up as the interim Healthwatch Manager from the end of August when she returns from her epic holiday.

Spotlight On: Social Care
We had a great turn out for our public forum event on 22nd July where we heard from Alexandra Laidler – Acting Director of Adult Social Care and looked at case studies of people using social care services to think about what could go wrong, what should happen and if there were any experiences people wanted to share. We have a report from the event that we would like to share with you, please find it here to download.

The summer weather has meant that there have been lots of great activities in and around the borough!  Did you see us at Southwark Eid Festival, Time and Talents Summer Party or at Silverlock TRA Community Fun Day?  Tell us about any events you are planning and follow us on twitter here to see what we are up to.

Very Best Wishes,

The Skeleton Healthwatch Southwark Team
Chip and Jo





Local News

Local news from across the community

Recruitment to Southwark and Lambeth Integrated Care Citizens’ Board
If you would like to apply to be on the Southwark and Lambeth Integrated Citizen’s Board, follow the link for more information and to make an application here

Council welcomes new Strategic Director of Children’s and Adults Services
Southwark Council is pleased to announce it has appointed David Quirke-Thornton as its new Strategic Director of Children’s and Adults Services. Mr Quirke-Thornton will join Southwark in the autumn from his previous role as Deputy Director, Children’s and Adult Services, at Medway Council. He has 20 years experience working in social care for local authorities including Medway and Hertfordshire County Council. Read more.

Information from Monitor for local Healthwatch: The pricing of NHS services
Monitor spoke with many of you at the Healthwatch conference about the pricing of NHS services. They are currently seeking views on our draft proposals for 2015/16.
Monitor are engaging with NHS providers and commissioners as their proposals cover the incremental changes made to the National Tariff each year and the documents are therefore quite technical. If you have more detailed knowledge of how the payment system works, read  Monitor’s engagement document and respond by 15 Aug. Read more.

New Three Cs web based app for Southwark: ‘MaxOut’
Three Cs have created web based app called MaxOut, linking you with Mental Health news and activites in Southwark.The new app includes: Information about Three Cs, retweets of news and activities from various organisations and Information how to get involved in the community through web links of other organisations in Southwark. Read more.

Peckham Dance lessons | Wed evenings
All welcome in the age bracket 16-25, though we are little flexible on the upper age limit. In the long term this will be aimed at more specific groups such as NEET etc but for now we want to get things off the ground and generate interest. It’s a community dance club with the opportunity to become a troupe and perform at some prestigious places. There will also be visits the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Ballet School and more. For more info contact Beth: 07980 454 236


Local Events

Community events and training near you

Healthy Cook & Eat Courses at Blackfriars Settlement | Starts Sept
This course is ideal for people who are looking to gain skills to help them live independently. At the sessions you will: Improve your knowledge of Health, Safety & Hygiene in the Kitchen, gain confidence whilst Cooking in a small group, improve your own Cooking Skills in a Safe & Supportive Environment. Read more.

Invitation to Advisory Group Open Meeting | 6 Sept
Invitation to Advisory Group Open Meeting – Saturday 6 September, 10.30am to 2pm, South Bank, London
Chair of the Advisory Group, Ciarán Devane, invites you to participate in NHS England’s second public discussion session about the work they are developing to inform and assure the programme known as ‘’.
The NHS in England are missing some information for the care provided outside of hospital. Read more.

NHS Southwark CCG first AGM | 11 Sept
NHS Southwark CCG is holding its first Annual General Meeting as a new Clinical Commissioning Group. Come and hear presentations about:
– Primary and Community Care development by Dr Sian Howell (CCG Governing Body member)
– The changing health profile in Southwark by Dr Ruth Wallis (Head of Public Health for Lambeth and Southwark). Register today.

Walk for mental health | 11 Oct
Join arts and mental health charity CoolTan Arts on a fun guided walk through London’s history, as they use creativity and humour to celebrate World Mental Health Day, challenge stigma and raise much needed funds. All money raised will enable CoolTan Arts to continue transforming the lives of people with mental distress, despite severe funding cuts. Book today.


National News

Keeping you up-to-date with national news


The UK’s mental health care is in crisis – the next government must act urgently
Mentally ill patients forced to travel hundreds of miles for treatment, forcible sectioning in order to get beds and medical students begging for greater teaching on psychiatry: we’re not getting it right. A report this week was grim reading for those involved in mental health care. The survey of GPs revealed that one in five had seen patients harmed as a result of “delays or a lack of support” from mental health services, while shortfalls had forced 82% of doctors to act “outside of their competence”. Read more.

Submit your entry for the Research Engagement Award
The Research Engagement Award is for Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) in recognition of the great work they do in promoting research in their GP surgery, dental practice, clinical commissioning group and other primary care settings. If you are a member of a PPG and have been involved in helping to spread the word about research N.A.PP want to hear from you. Read more.


The UK’s mental health care is in crisis
The UK’s mental health care is in crisis – the next government must act urgently
A report this week was grim reading for those involved in mental health care. The survey of GPs revealed that one in five had seen patients harmed as a result of “delays or a lack of support” from mental health services, while shortfalls had forced 82% of doctors to act “outside of their competence”. Read more.


Assistant Director Vacancy Healthwatch Haringey
Healthwatch Haringey are seeking an Assistant Director who is both an effective project manager with a successful track record of partnership working and has an understanding of health and social care policy issues.
We are searching for a candidate with a background in one or more of health, social care, community engagement and consumer representation. Apply today.





Recent NICE published guidance

NICE guidance and updates

Wide use of statins could cut deaths from heart disease
Up to 8,000 lives could be saved every three years by offering statins to anyone with a 10 per cent risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) within a decade, says NICE – Read more

NICE unveils safe staffing plans for nursing care in wards
NICE has published new guidance setting out ‘red flag events’ which warn when nurses in charge of shifts must act immediately to ensure they have enough staff to meet the needs of patients on that wardRead more

Realistic weight loss goals better than quick fixes
Losing even a small amount of weight can help to improve the health of people who are overweight or obese and lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer, says NICE – Read more

You can find out more information on the NICE website:

National events

Latest events from across the country

Tackling Long Term Conditions | 29 Oct
At Tackling Long-Term Conditions: Coordinating Care, Transforming Services Open Forum Events expert speakers will explore how to drive improvements in care, coordinate services to achieve quality outcomes and help make life better for people with long term conditions.
A whole system approach is required to tackle the scale and prevalence of long-term conditions.  Register your interest.

Health Inequalities in London: Seeking joint solutions for better health outcomes | 29 Oct
LVSC’s seminar will address some of the key health inequality challenges facing London and look at opportunities and joint solutions to reduce them. Key themes will include housing; access to health and social care services; poverty & deprivation; employment and health and mental health and others. The event also aims to feed into the Mayor’s London Health Inequality Strategy. Register today.

General Optical Council Public consultation event | 26 Sept
We recently launched a consultation as part of our strategic review of standards for optometrists and dispensing opticians.
As well as inviting written responses, we want stakeholders to be able to discuss the key issues face-to-face with us and each other, so we are inviting you to our independently facilitated public discussion event in London on 26 Sept. Book today.

Six Day Sleep Counselor Training | Nov 2014
his training is for professionals working with children or young people with additional support needs, such as teachers, social workers, doctors, health visitors, CAMHS and Learning Disability CAMHS workers, psychologists and specialist nurses.
Participants will gain a comprehensive knowledge of sleep processes and understand the problems that children with a wide range of physical, learning & sensory disabilities may face.  Book today.

The Care Act in Practice Conference | 11 Nov
Govtoday and The College of Social Work are delighted to be hosting The Care Act in Practice. It will be held at the Mermaid Conference Centre, London. The Care Act in Practice is a crucial professional development event for senior social workers and social care leaders. Key speakers from across the social care landscape will give insight into how social workers and providers should adapt to fully implement the principles of the new legislation. Book today.

Why people leave hospitals without consent

I am looking for information about why people leave hospitals without consent, or as nurses and doctors call it going AWOL or absconding, as part of a project to reduce the number of people absconding from inpatient services.  I would like to hear from people who people who have recently (within the last 2 years) been admitted to an inpatient wards and absconded from the ward during their admission.   I would appreciate it if individual staff or services were not mentioned in your responses.  The information gained from your experiences will to help develop training for inpatient teams.  I would be grateful if you could answer the following 3 questions

  1. Why did you  leave the ward without consent from the nurses or doctor?
  2. Where did you go & what did you do whilst you were off the ward?
  3. Was there anything that the ward team (Drs, nurses, OTs etc.) could have done differently in the days or hours before you left that meant you would have stayed on the ward?

Please respond to by 29th August.

Invitation to CoolTan Arts Sponsored Walk

Walk for mental health with CoolTan Arts! – please join us for our biggest event of the year – our Sponsored Walk on Saturday 11th October.It’s a brilliant day out, raises vital funds to continue our work and publicly challenges stigma through our visible presence on the streets of London!

Tickets are £5 unwaged, £10 waged. You can register quickly and easily online here:

Setting off from outside the Maudsley Hospital, Denmark Hill, SE5 8AZ and following a 4.8 mile route to the Southbank, the walk will explore green spaces, hidden squares and historic landmarks. We will celebrate World Mental Health Day with talks, art and performances looking at inspiring local stories and people.

Please join us if you can and spread the word!


We are going backwards: mental health cuts exacerbate a growing health burden

We are deeply concerned by recent cuts to NHS mental health service providers which exacerbate the problems of an already extremely under-resourced sector.

These cuts are the most recent in a long list of events that display the Government’s lack of support for the sector, says Isabella Goldie, our Director of Development and Delivery: “Despite mental health problems being 23% of the burden of illness in England, funding (currently sitting at 13%) is becoming even more disproportionate.

“Whilst we absolutely welcome the government’s commitment to parity of esteem for mental health and a move to a focus on outcomes, recent figures show immediate and drastic action is needed”.

Figures from a recent HSJ analysis of all 57 Trusts show one in five experienced cuts of 5-9%, leading to a dramatic reduction in beds and staff available to people who require acute mental health support.

“We can see from the steep rise in out-of-area placements that those who need highly specialised care and support are travelling long distances for services.

“It is unacceptable that people, at their most vulnerable, afraid and distressed, are being placed in unfamiliar areas, and shows that mental health services are reaching a crisis point.

“Given that 1 in 4 people (and growing) will experience mental health problems this is an issue that affects us all.”

We advocate for more work to be done in prevention across the course of a life and call for further investment in evidence-based preventative approaches such as parenting support.

“Any compassionate society needs to ensure that our public services are available and fit for purpose when people are at their most vulnerable,” says Isabella.

“For mental health services this means ensuring services are measured and funded based on outcomes that drive real improvements to the lives of people with mental health problems.”

Our joint Mental Health Policy Group has joined a wide range of other professional bodies, service user and carer groups and academics to express concern about what this means for already disproportionately funded mental services and the aim of the government to create parity of esteem.


Bullying from SLaM to shut the blog rather than make it inactive

Dear all,

Earlier today we notified SLaM that our last post would be on 8th September, after which the blog would be dormant until or unless we secured future funding.

SLaM responded by telling us that we had to change the blog domain address (which they knew was impossible), or to shut down the site. Leaving it dormant was not an option.

After we challenged the legality of their edict, they backtracked.

Here’s today’s emails: Corres with SLaM Comms 14th August

It’s so sad that they are trying to make us disappear, so that the blog can’t even be a historical resource.

If you’re cross or sad about this, please email the Head of Comms: and / or the Chief Exec:, copied to me at .

Best wishes,


Blog Administrator

Community Action Southwark Fundraising masterclass

Community Action Southwark are running an Introduction to Fundraising masterclass on the 11th Sept.

If you want to understand the key aspects of fundraising and where to look for funding you will find this event very useful

Via Matthew

Biomedical Research Centre

We are looking for representatives to inform the work of the Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health (BRC-MH). The BRC-MH is based across the Institute of Psychiatry and SLaM, and is funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR). More information about the roles can be found in the attached documents.

Role description_Cluster representatives_Carers

Role description_Cluster representatives_Service users

We are looking for people who can provide a service user or carer perspective to the BRC programme. We are looking for people with an interest in research, and who are committed to improving biomedical research in mental health.

Further information about the BRC can be found on our website:


Summer activities in Croydon


Before we lose the use of your excellent resource please could you let people know about two extra groups Active Minds are currently running:

Our popular cricket group returns for a second summer (we play Street 20 cricket so no great skill or knowledge of the labyrinthine rules of cricket is necessary – just come along)

cricket 2014 (3)

The Cycling pilot scheme we have been running over the summer has proved very popular so has been extended until the end of September

cycling poster 2 (3)

Contact details are on the attached flyers

Many thanks

Peter Rogers

Active Minds

Mind in Croydon

Orchard House,

15a Purley Road

South Croydon,



t: 020 8253 8206

m: 07754 828053



The divisive language that drains support for those on benefits

Further to your coverage of the sad and wasteful death of David Clapson (‘No one should die penniless and alone’, G2, 4 August), today (9 August) marks the anniversary of the discovery of the emaciated body of Mark Wood, a vulnerable sufferer from severe mental health problems, in David Cameron’s Oxfordshire constituency. Mr Wood had been erroneously and incompetently declared fit for work by Atos (on behalf of the DWP) and the consequent cutting of benefits was a clear “accelerating factor” in his death by starvation. The architects of deaths like these remain in charge of the DWP. There have of course been other well-attested deaths-by-DWP and there will be more (especially among the vulnerable disabled), as current reforms roll out their panoply of delays, despair and effective victimisation across the country. The real human costs of sick government must never be forgotten.
Stewart Eames

• David Clapson’s death is a sad reflection on the impact of government policies. I was fortunate enough to be able to work from the age of 15 to 70, paying all due taxes. Should we really care if a few people manipulate the system, if it means that no one is unfairly penalised and slips below the safety net necessary to provide a reasonable standard of living? I am not religious, but I do think that this heartless government should consider “there, but for the grace of God, go I”.
Wendy Collins
Batley, West Yorkshire

• The harrowing comments on benefit sanctions (G2, 6 August) didn’t discuss the political basis for these punitive measures. People mostly vote on a tribal basis, for “our sort of people”. When people become afraid of falling into poverty they take comfort in the hope that it only happens to the “other sort of people” and vote Conservative as an act of faith. This is the same mechanism that unites a country under threat of war and persuades dirt-poor Americans to oppose Obamacare rather than admit to themselves that they might one day need it.
D Sewell
Driffield, East Yorkshire

• Shame on the Guardian for describing out-of-work benefit recipients as “the idle poor” (Report, 5 August). On the basis of what evidence do you write them off as idle? Are those caring for children or infirm relatives, volunteering in the community, actively seeking work or simply working hard just to get by on a low income idle? Language matters and it is the use of othering language such as this by the media and politicians that has contributed to the “draining away of public support” for social security.
Ruth Lister
Labour, House of Lords


**INVITATION FROM NHS ENGLAND** – NHS Citizen’s Assembly and AGM

We would like to draw your attention to the NHS Citizen’s Assembly and the NHS England AGM in London on the Thursday 18th September 2014, (below is the invitation).  The event will take place at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre, Westminster, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, London, SW1P 3EE.

NHS England AGM NHS Citizen Invitation

NHS Citizen has been at the drawing board stage for over a year, and it is now time to get people together to see how an NHS Citizen Assembly Meeting will work in practice.

NHS Citizen allows members of the public to put forward their thoughts, concerns and vision for the future of the NHS. These ideas will then be discussed at the NHS Citizen Assembly Meeting, where Members of the Board of NHS England, NHS senior managers and members of the public will work together to shape the future of the NHS.

The day will contain lots of opportunities for patients, carers and members of the public to debate, deliberate and work together to explore solutions to issues important to health and well-being in England.

Since registration opened, we have had a huge interest, however we are keen to ensure that those that are the ‘hardest to hear’ are given the opportunity to attend and get involved.

The event will be driven by what is important to the patients and the public – you, a partner organisation, stakeholder or citizen could flag the issue by completing this google.doc form and submitting it to be published on the gather space. Throughout August we will be encouraging discussion on the flagged issues to highlight those with the greatest support, evidence and participation. Five issues will be selected in early September.

Further information on how to register for a place is here – Please note places are limited, to ensure we have voices from different age groups and areas of England we reserve the right to allocate places accordingly.  Should you require any help with registering please phone either 0113 8248486 or 0113 825 1338.

If you require support to attend the event please contact Mary Newsome: – 0113 825 1338 and we will discuss how we can help you.  Please note that NHS England will only pay travel, expenses and accommodation for patients, carers and volunteers to attend the NHS Citizen Assembly, the NHS England Assembly which follows on from this is a public event and will not be covered by our expenses policy.

We do hope that you are able to spread the word and also join us for what will be an exciting and innovative day.

Best wishes

The NHS Citizen Team


0113 824 1338

Nagina Javaid

Patient & Public Partnerships Account Manager

Directorate of Patient & Public Voice & Information

NHS England


The UK’s mental health care is in crisis – the next government must act urgently

Mentally ill patients forced to travel hundreds of miles for treatment, forcible sectioning in order to get beds and medical students begging for greater teaching on psychiatry: we’re not getting it right

Just last week, data obtained from freedom of information requests led to claims that the NHS treated mental health care as a “second-class service”. Indeed, thousands of mentally ill patients have been forced to travel “hundreds of miles” for treatment in recent years. Extreme cases have seen patients being forcibly sectioned so that they can receive care in overcrowded wards. Even medical students have resorted to asking for greater teaching on psychiatry, highlighting the derisory attention that mental health issues receive. Yet the state of mental health services is unsurprising considering that they receive only 13 per cent of the NHS budget, despite mental illness affecting around a quarter of the UK population.

Worse still, national spending on mental health has consistently decreased over the past three years. And the trend isn’t limited to adult care; mental health services for children and adolescents have also seen a fall in funding. This decline seems even more irrational considering adolescence is the period when many mental illnesses first manifest, and that hospitals are recording a rise in hospital admissions for conditions such as eating disorders.

The budget cuts have had a noticeable impact, with doctors citing the changes as a cause of “avoidable deaths and suicides,” while mental health organisations claimed that the cuts “put lives at risk”. Mental illness also has a significant impact on a patient’s quality of life, and is thought to contribute to poor physical health, having been associated with diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. As well as the ethical concerns of these cases, such neglect of the mentally ill also has practical implications; a report by the London School of Economics found that the NHS could save over £50m a year by reversing budget cuts to preventative and early intervention therapies.

Yet perhaps the most striking aspect of the decrease in funding comes from the comparison with other areas of health care. The government, for instance, took great pride in announcing that the Cancer Drugs Fund would be ring-fenced until 2016. While it would be wrong to question the severity of diseases such as cancer, it is worth considering that this budget is reserved for treatments that aren’t ordinarily commissioned because they are not cost-effective. Given the nature of the NHS’s funding crisis, it seems unfair to fund relatively inefficient treatments, while the NHS’s most vulnerable patients are left without basic care.

This is the problem. Eager to brand their “reform” of the NHS as good for patients, the coalition has protected the emotive areas of health care that already benefit from public awareness. Aware that severely cutting the budget for paediatrics or cancer care would result in public outrage, the government are cynically withdrawing care from those most lacking a voice in society: the mentally ill.

Although this current crisis is alarming, such disregard of mental health isn’t a recent phenomenon. Plagued by a history of taboo and prejudice, mental health care has historically been chronically underfunded. With a media happy to brand mentally ill people as “psychos” and a threat to society, it has been relatively easy for politicians to excuse this injustice. But public perceptions are changing; a report by the charity Rethink Mental Illness found that public understanding and tolerance of mentally ill people is improving, while 63 per cent were aware of a close friend having a mental health problem.

This is important; for a politician to stand up for mental health care now wouldn’t just be a principled action, it’d be a popular one. With time, and the excellent work of campaign groups, this positive trend in public attitudes will only continue, allowing society to grow in confidence to discuss one of our greatest health challenges. The mental health charity Mind suggests that the next government commits to a 10 per cent rise in the NHS’s mental health budget over the next five years. Considering the state of mental health care and the current funding disparity between health services, this is not an unreasonable request.

Past governments have chosen an area of health care to focus on, in order to target voter demographics. In 1999, Blair announced his “crusade against cancer”. Seeking the “grey vote”, David Cameron called for a “national challenge” to beat neurological diseases such as dementia. But the disgrace of the NHS’s mental health provision goes beyond party politics. Regardless of who wins the general election, the next government must embrace bold reform to end our longstanding neglect of the mentally ill.


Future of our social media: August update

Dear all,

Last month we told you about SLaM’s plan’s to pull funding from our social media on 30th September here:

Thank you to all of you who wrote in to SLaM, asking for a reconsideration.

Later last month we updated you on the new date of 8th September here:

We were called to a meeting earlier this week, at 2 days notice, which two of our team were able to make. The notes of that meeting are here: Notes of Meeting to discuss SLaM Blog. You’ll note that there was no dialogue: it was simply a meeting for SLaM to tell us of their latest decisions, lead by by the Trust Director for Patient and Public Involvement.

At that meeting, we were told of the latest plan: that there would be a cut of 50% in our funding from 8th September, which would stop altogether on 30th October. In addition we were asked to provide advice to the SLaM Comms team on setting up new, SLaM run platforms, within this new 50% funding level.

SLaM seem to fundamentally not “get” the reasons for the need for an independent service user and carer led voice, or to understand why so many of it’s current and former patients are fearful of engagement with Trust-led initiatives. We have done all we can to explain this, time and time again, and we’re incredibly sorry that we’ve not been heard, on your behalf.

Your social media team have been unable to find a way to continue our services in anything like their current forms until that date, with these cuts, so this is to let you know that the blog will stop taking postings on 8th September. Our Facebook and Twitter presence may continue until the end of October.

On a personal note, may I take this opportunity to say that for me it has been a very great pleasure to have worked with you over the last three and a half years, and to have been part of this growing community which we have helped to link up :-). I am incredibly sorry to see the blog and our other platforms go, and can’t see how new platforms, run by the Trust, can replace them, when so many people are so suspicious of their health provider, based on their own direct experience :-(.

With best wishes,


Blog Adminstrator