Friday’s frabjous feast of facts,findings,flummery and fatalism

Well, rather a lot has been going on in the world of health and social care, not least in mental health, and indeed in the area of mental health service user and carer involvement. Can’t honestly say that the goings-on have been terribly good news,indeed a strong case could be argued that we are living through a period of unremitting bad tidings, as some of the links contained in this update argue*. As per usual, I’ll pick out eye-catching bits from those links, but it really is worth clicking through and reading the whole shebang. After all information is power, or so they say, but the large proportion of those with power who are ill-informed rather contradicts that.
*Nota bene, other opinions are available, from, inter alia, Pollyanna, Doctor Pangloss and the Flat Earth Society

Credits due first up to Paul Johnson (NEMHDU) for some of the material, from Anonymous (you’ll understand why if you read down…) for another bit, and as ever, feel free to recycle anything in the mail-out, just sneak in an acknowledgement to us somewhere in there, thangyew verrah mooch.

Let’s start though with some positive things, from NEt and/or NTWSU&C network (remember NTWSU&C is the northern half of NEt) members:

  • From Middlesbrough and Stockton MIND (whose Dawn Downey has been a key player in NEt) comes free WRAP facilitator training

Hi Alisdair

Thanks for supporting us by letting your members know about our project. As I explained on the phone I’m a trainer and facilitator with Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind. We have received some funding from the North East Mental Health Development Unit to recruit and train Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) facilitators in the North East region. The aim of the project is to develop knowledge and skills of this self-management tool so it may be facilitated with others in a group setting. There will also be evaluation of the impact of the training on the facilitators practice and on group participants’ wellbeing as a result of incorporating WRAP into their lives.

We are currently recruiting for the 3 day Facilitator’s programme that delegates will undertake before working with service users or clients. The training is free, however, there is an agreement that delegates and employers/organisations commit to attending the training, facilitating WRAP with at least one group and participate in the evaluation of the programme which will take us to July 2012.

If you aware of any organisation or services (statutory, community or voluntary sector based) that would benefit from involvement in this project and be able to offer their commitment to facilitation and evaluation of WRAP please forward my details onto them.



  • Next from the network’s member and ally, playwright and artist sean burn (no capitalisation, because that’s ART)

dear all, if you’d like a glimpse into how i’ve spent the last thirteen months as artist in residence ‘reclaiming the languages of lunacy’ with the new art gallery walsall and dash (disability art in shropshire) then do check out my artists booklet d / rift which can be downloaded as a pdf file for free or purchased as print on demand copy on paper (both full-colour) from – feel free to spread the news. best wishes sean burn

  • Now a quick link to our amigos at NSUN and their always informative web newsletter.Loads of good reading in there, plus we stand as their North Eastern outpost, so support ’em.
  • And news of an event by our pals/network members at Voices Empowered, and a Discovering Potential workshop, 16th of March: details attached
  • Another event to get yourself along to is the MHNE Meeting The Challenges event, Centre for Life, Newcastle 25th of Feb.Again document attached
  • Next event is one via VONNE and New Leaf, New Life:

In response to the massive changes in policy and structures have occurred across the whole of the health and social care system the Third Sector Health and Social Care Forum event- “Healthy Communities in the North East” aims to support third sector organisations working in health and social care to:
gain an overview the proposed policy changes and what they mean for the third sector
see what the emerging structures are looking like in the North East- around health (GP commissioning clusters) and public health (Public Health North East and the developing health and wellbeing boards)
feed into the consultation on the Public Health White Paper- Healthy Lives, Healthy People
hear how other organisations- both third sector and public sector have been improving health and reducing health inequalities
make connections with other people working to improve the health of North East communities and reduce health inequalities- to spark ideas
hear how the QIPP agenda impacts on the voluntary sector- the drive to improve quality and make efficiency savings.
Link to the proposed programme; speakers include:
Peter Kelly, Acting Regional Director of Public Health,
Julie Ross- Strategic Head of Commissioning & Primary Care, NHS North East- the lead on the transition to GP Commissioning
Date and time: 2nd March- registration and networking from 10, programme 10.30-16:00
Location: Quayside Exchange, Sunderland, SR1 2AX
Who should come: any third sector organisation working in health and social care. Places may be limited to a maximum of 2 people per organisation. If more than 2 people wish to attend the additional names will be added to the waiting list, in case of last minute availability
Cost: This a free event. However, if you book a place and fail to turn up a charge of £25 per delegate will be levied (unless notice is received more than 5 days prior to the event).
How to book: return the vonne by 22nd February. Link to booking form
Access requirements: If you have support requirements to access the event please contact Jo Whaley as soon as possible (0191 2332000)
This event is supported by the Department of Health, New Leaf New Life and Big Lottery through the Policy and Representation Partnership

  • And also find attached news’n’snipptes from PJ and Maureen at NEMHDU

Right, now on to the gloomier,more ominous stuff. Look away now if easily outraged.

  • Consultation on reform of Legal Aid.The government is carrying out a consultation on the reform of legal aid. The proposals represent a radical, wide-ranging and ambitious programme. The key proposals relate to Civil Legal Aid. These changes include a reduction or removal of Legal Aid in relation to asylum, clinical negligence, consumer and general contract, criminal injuries, debt, education, employment, family law, housing, immigration, Tort including breach of statutory duty and welfare benefits. More info here.
  • Consultation on reform of Disability Living Allowance. The government is carrying out a consultation on the reform of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) which is a benefit that allows disabled people to stay in employment. The aim is to reduce the number of people receiving help. Changes include removing mobility allowance for those in residential care, introducing face to face meetings with independent health care professionals for all applicants and taking greater account of how aids and adaptations affect and individuals ability to carry out functions. The consultation closes on 14 February 2011. More info here

I really do implore folk to get clued up on the havoc about to be wreaked upon vulnerable people. Please do read this

And now back to the ever edifying saga of the Govt’s mental health strategy. Remember the now-you-see-it now-you-don’t £400 million? The Govt’s expert adviser who queried if the money existed or was spin got sacked. His letter to the Guardian is a bit of a corker.

Our anonymous source at the launch of the MH strategy confirmed our suspicions about a lack of consultation and genuine involvement

The launch was ‘a tightly run’ affair – lots of men in suits patting each other on the back!

Well I did splutter when there was reference to consultation. Despite being a strategic partner & supporting involvement with NMHDU & continually asking how we could contribute…. the wall was inpenetrable.
It was hilarious when I spoke with **** ******* from ******* The whole time he was looking over my head scanning the room for more important people. I was going to be mean & keep him talking, but let him off by saying ‘Well I’ll let you get on with networking then!’

I’m also getting messages that ‘gone are the days of having angry people’ at the table, so we’re back to cherry picking

The death of Service User/carer/patient involvement
De trop? Peut-être but the vital signs ain’t looking good and the prognosis is poor.
Attached is a document compiled by Paul Johnson from some links sent to him (one by me). LINks and HealthWatch? It’s certainly not looking like an easy transition and there is a real risk that in all the turmoil, public involvement (let alone that of users and carers) gets greatly diminished

One of the source/original pieces is here.

Choice line: "HealthWatch: Good in principle, worrying in practice"

This concern is shared by many major charities who have spoken out about it this week.

Choice line: Greater patient and public involvement leads to better care and more efficient services, yet the proposed reforms do little to give patients a stronger voice at a local level.

Choice comment: "hi-jacked for the dubious end and aggrandisement of corporate customer satisfaction"

Next a beltingly good demolition of some of Mr Lansley’s more, er, debatable claims, from an expert perspective.

Choice bits: Goodness me. SOS Lansley is defending his reforms in The Guardian.So, what does he have to say?"There is mounting support within the NHS towards the government’s plans to modernise the service. The NHS is full of highly skilled, dedicated people. Parts of it provide world-leading levels of care. But too often, the system itself can act as a barrier to the kind of progress that doctors and nurses want for patients.Assertions: 4. Facts: 0. …But this effort to put a ‘Big Society’ spin on things is not going to fly. It has the wings of a brick.

Lastly, two informative opinion pieces from a GP who is actually part of a pathfinder consortium, the type of body charged with the future of the NHS.

The first outlines 8 more problems with GP commissioning (to go with 10 he or she identified early on…)

Choice finishing lines:There will be far more de-commissioning and closures than commissioning.GP Commissioning will be a disaster for patients, GPs and the NHS

The second piece from the same redoubtable source I’m attaching as a document too, because I know that you are likelier to read one attachment from among just a few than to have shown the fortitude and stamina to have read all the way down to this point. In fact if you have made it this far you’ve qualified for a special medal (apply in writing).

Choice, no, worrying bits:In other words, patient choice is too expensive. We can either have patient choice and any willing provider or GP commissioning. But not both…Another way to save money is for commissioners to refuse to register high cost patients. As extraordinary as this sounds this was a warning from Clare Gerada, head of the Royal College of GPs this week…Another way is to only allow referrals to the cheapest providers…All of these potential solutions will restrict choice so patients will have very little say

Now have a lovely weekend everyone,



Alisdair Cameron
LAUNCHPAD Team Leader,
NTWSU&C n/wk co-chair (with Mish Loraine)
(for network business: ntwsuc)

Offices 210 and 211,
Holy Jesus Hospital,
City Road,
Newcastle upon Tyne,

Tel 0191 2330382 (personal mobile 07736074213)
E-mail launchpadncl

or alisdairscameron

Discovering potential joining details.11.2.11.doc

Booking form Meeting the challenges 25th February 2011.doc

News and snippets feb 11th.doc

2 interesting articles re involvement and Health Watch(2).doc

GP commissioning, private profits and patient choice _ Abetternhs’s Blog.pdf

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