Reputation, reputation and reputation (and a truly stunning sunset)

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A sunset to stun and silence in awe this week. Photos here are unedited other than cropping. Taken from our bedroom window. The bedroom LB and Tom once shared. A room once filled with happiness, lego creations and die cast models.

It’s been a stunning and silencing week in other, less good ways. On Tuesday, File on Four first aired Lucy Adam’s investigation of Transforming Care and the experiences of young people incarcerated in Assessment and Treatment Units. A truly chilling listen [available here] for so many reasons. Not least hearing 17 year old Bethany sing a Bob Marley song to her dad on the phone from seclusion. Bethany has been in seclusion [locked in a room and fed through a hatch] for months now under the ‘care’ of St Andrews (non) Care. At the time of recording, she had the inside of a Bic biro embedded in her arm for three months. Yep. My brain kind of juddered and shuddered on hearing this detail, unconsciously parking it in a whole new ‘must have misheard’ folder for minutes before other listeners raised it on twitter.

St Andrews were the subject of a Channel 4 Dispatches film Under Lock and Key a year ago now and continue to bludgeon the word ‘care’ with remarkable indifference and extraordinary reward. Supported by commissioners shelling out £13k a week (yep, £13k a week) for casual violence and brutality on young people.

Chris Hatton, who worked with Lucy on the background to the programme published an analysis of restraints, assaults and self-harm in in-patient units. Not an easy read.

[As an aside, we walked passed the Birmingham outpost of St Andrews last Sunday during a #CaminoLB walk… the place was a like an apocalyptic film setting with no sign of life.]

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Bethany’s dad joined twitter after the programme was aired and has been filling in details about the experiences she (and her family) have been forced to endure. Walsall local authority are Bethany’s ‘corporate parents’ and by late week they stepped up to engage with unfolding events. Not with the Bic pen or Bethany’s incarceration/hatch feeding but her dad’s new social media activity. They took out injunction against him because he included a photo of her on his profile page.

Instead of working with Bethany, her dad and others who know her, in order to provide effective and supportive ‘support’ to enable her to live an independent and meaningful life, St Andrews are choosing to trouser around £600k a year to generate and sustain a battle which Bethany is guaranteed to lose and continue to lose.

[I can’t even begin to imagine what this experience must be like. Experiencing sustained state sanctioned power and brutality, with no recourse to comfort, loving or any sniff of rescue… Aged 17.

Sticking a Bic pen in your arm makes a kind of sense that sickens me to the core.]

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Staying with local authority monstrousness albeit at a lesser level, an academic colleague tweeted earlier today asking if it was common practice for local authorities to ask to run research findings relating to the social care they provide through their comms department. Wow. Really? A public sector body thinking they somehow have the right to ‘check’ independent research findings funded by another public sector body. This was around the same time as Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the US Supreme Court. Grimmer than grim.

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Finally, the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust failings, documented by the brilliant and committed journalistic work of another BBC social affairs correspondent, Michael Buchanan, continue to grow as families come forward. Buchanan, who has been following this story for 18 months yesterday tweeted:

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Once again, a government body grimly and blatantly ignoring human pain, prioritising reputation over failings and any whiff of improvement or change.

What a week.

[Postscript: I’ve somehow missed approving a wedge of comments on this blog over the last few weeks. Sorry and thank you, as always, for contributing sense and thoughtfulness to these pages.]

Four deaths, heads and a medical director

Between Oct 2010 and May 2011, four men died unexpectedly in St Andrews, Northampton. All patients in the Grafton Ward; a 20 bed, low secure ward. Bill, one of the four, featured in Under Lock and Key a few weeks ago. You’d imagine that four patients dying unexpectedly within a six month period in the same ward would send shockwaves around St Andrews and wider.

A copy of the investigation into these deaths landed in the Justice Shed yesterday evening. The terms of reference suggest that there was some switched on thinking around these patients’ human rights:

No. The Charity clearly didn’t understand the word ‘independent’ or their obligations arising under Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The investigation was led by the St Andrew’s Medical Director supported by the Head of Research and Development, Head of Physical Healthcare, Head of Health and Safety Investigations and Head of Pharmacy. About as far from independent as you can get.

Unsurprisingly, there was zero consideration of the four lives that ended, prematurely. The remaining terms of reference were:

The executive summary states:

It was the patients themselves what done it. With their long standing medical problems (clearly untouched by the long term leading specialist care provided by St Andrews at enormous cost to the NHS and other commissioners). One patient had lived there for 18 years. The day before he died, he refused to have his vital signs checked on two occasions.

Whatever way you cut it, this strikes me as a catastrophic fail on the part of St Andrews. “The UK’s leading charity providing specialist NHS care.”

They couldn’t even be bothered to proof read the final report.

A tale of two releases

A Bermudian journalist, the only independent journalist on the island, popped up on twitter this week, tracking down details of the recent announcement that St Andrews Care (who were the subject of the documentary, Under Lock and Key) are going to ship patients from Bermuda to their ‘care’. He published this story.

Here is the original news release published by St Andrew’s. Tiny type, sorry.

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And the revised one after the press started to get interested.

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To save you squinting too hard at them both, the main differences are:

St Andrew’s has achieved a ‘new first’, not by winning ‘an [sic] contract to provide care to forensic patients’, as originally stated, but by ‘by being selected as a preferred provider to support the Bermuda Health Hospitals board in providing care…

Bit of a difference, raising questions about what is actually going on between St Andrews and the Bermuda Health Hospitals Board. And whether there is there any scrutiny of these negotiations.

The sentence about Bermuda being a small island with limited resources and people with mental illness being held in the island prison system has been removed.

Mmm. Probably best not bite the hand that feeds you. The original statement suggests that, possibly, there may not have been much consideration of the tender process, context and history on the part of St Andrew’s.

Instead of the the ‘contract being awarded at the end of February’, the story has changed to ‘contract negotiations are now being started’.  Puzzling. How these dance steps are being played out between the Bermudian system and St Andrew’s, outside of any apparent transparency,  engagement or public consultation is chilling.

The second press release drops any mention of three patients ‘set to travel to Northampton as part of St Andrew’s Men’s mental health pathway, with up to nine patients due to join St Andrew’s in the coming months’. I’m relieved this is currently disappeared. The way it was written sounded like the first three patients and the subsequent 9, were coming to join some sort of corporate team building exercise. Not wrenched thousands of miles from homes and families they will, more than likely, never see again. I’m sure it won’t stop this happening but any reflection on and consideration of what is being plotted can only be a good thing.

Finally, the statement from the Executive Director of Nursing and Quality has been revised. The opening sentence about ‘bringing the charity income from new sources’ is deleted. 

Income from new sources… Before the health and well being of these patients. Extraordinary. Since when did a massive charity need new income? Given the gargantuan salaries of the exec board and this latest money spinner, the Charity Commission should be having a bit of a snifty around this bunch. I can smell em from here.