Early May mix of news and stuff about mental health, health and social care

As ever, the weather’s been the best bit of news of late, with all of the national pronouncements being either a bit grim, or simply adding to the confusion that reigns over health and social care, as this Government chops and changes on what seems like an hourly basis.

But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? Why, it’s some positive stuff, all local, and involves jobs and posts available, as opposed to those being cut.
Tyneside Women’s Health are recruiting, and the ad is attached.

Also looking to appoint is Newcastle Advocacy Centre, seeking a Mental Health Advocacy Coordinator, and also a Citizen Advocacy Coordinator (attached).
What else is going on/has been happening locally,regionally and beyond? (n.b. there may be some repetition of items in the following newsletters etc. News is like that,apparently, which explains why every news outlet last week covered a posh couple tying the knot, to a backdrop of gob-smacking frocks,more pomp than the Black Dyke Brass Band, and more ceremony than Joy Division)

Take a peek at the MHNE bulletin (www.mhne.co.uk , attached)
Have a gander at our mates at NSUN (www.nsun.org.uk , and do join up), with last week’s bulletin (nb, if you click on the link in there on news from the North East, you’ll enter a timewarp and read our last mail-out, with no way out from that recursive maze). Here’s this week’s for good measure,too. Our networks’ integral involvement with NSUN’s paying off too, as it not only has a couple of places on the the Joint Commissioning Board for mental health at the DoH, but contributed to the attached document on the guidance for the national commissioning framework, and will contribute to any and all updates (so, yup, get involved, and you can feed stuff through ourselves and see it make a difference)

News too from our allies at the Social Perspectives Network (watch for some upcoming work/an event with them in this region…). with their bulletin (attached)
Like a bit of art,do you…got just the ticket for you then, with our amigos at NAGAS having an exhibition, details here

We also have a bulletin from Service Users in Research (attached), part of the Mental Health Research Network, with whose North East hub we work.
Interesting news that peer support can and does work out cheaper and more effective than many other approaches,even CBT. many of us who practise peer support knew this, but it’s nice to see it confirmed.

Coming to the bit where I attempt to break the internet, by shoving in as many links as is superhumanly possible (above was just playing at it), and our old ‘friends’ atos (see mail-outs passim) whose WCA assessments process remains both hugely flawed and highly damaging in its impacts.Their centres often don’t even have disabled access, which almost sums up their regard for those they assess.Reports of people dying, as atos simultaneously declare them fit for work, with more questions being asked about the professional ethics of assessors using the atos procedure (do read the BMJ on this), and resistance and protest growing, with a national week of action next week.Don’t look to the official Opposition for much succour, though. Much news on benefits, and welfare comes by way of the benefits and work website, and their latest newsletter is attached too.

Now we reach the link-strewn wastelands of comment and news about NHS reform. Look away now if you hold Andrew "La-La" Lansley in high esteem or somehow believe that his proposals are immaculately conceived, and perfect in every regard.Apparently Nick Clegg has now said that his crew will examine Lansley’s Bill (like they didn’t before, when they,er,voted for it in first reading?) and demand changes, but Nick Clegg has said and promised many things, and look how they turned out…Some say his days may be numbered.Hamish Meldrum the chair of the British Medical Association, called the government’s proposed health reforms "rushed-through" and "ill-thought-out" n.b. on that webpage is an interesting series of posts by Professor Steve Field who is leading the government’s listening exercise on the planned NHS reforms, in which he displays an astonishing ability to duck awkward questions, provide dubious and evidence-free assertions, and also insult serious contributors to the ‘webchat’ by deliberately misrepresenting their questions. Clap,clap. In fact the sincerity of the whole of the Govt’s listening exercise (do read the link:bitingly funny) must be questioned: rebadging other meetings as listening events,keeping publicity low-key and restricting invites. Very few experts (and very few former health ministers/ DH bods,who do not necessarily fall into the category of experts…) back Lansley, and some of their wisdom and trenchant comment is summarised here.It might even be said that something’s profoundly wrong when the PM needs to be protected by a coterie of ‘yes-men’.

Oh, and still nobody dare mention the huge conflict of interest inherent in what’s being pushed.That of course is not the only elephant in the room: a gander at the financial and personnel links between big business, multinational eyeing up the UK healthcare market, management consultancy firms and the current (and previous) Government is enlightening.. Not suggesting impropriety but it’s always handy to have the ear of the Govt isn’t it?

As for what happens should the Govt’s plans not work out? Well, it appears contingency plans are thin on the ground .

Of course there is also a school of thought, which argues with some validity, that Lansley et al are getting all of the flak, but may not really be calling the shots.
We’ve seen a demand from Monitor, the NHS (financial) regulator for hospital and other trusts to make unprecedented savings, over and above those already planned. Cuts equivalent to over 1/3 over 5 years.These cuts are obviously hitting mental health too, and the accompanying pressure in social care isn’t helping any (and the much-vaunted personalisation agenda is no silver bullet). So, who heads up Monitor? Why it’s a chap called David Bennet, ex of the management consultancy firm McKinsey (who steal your watch, then charge to tell you the time, and get the big hand confused with the little one when doing so) and who proclaimed his role in life was to dismember the NHS. "David Bennet is clumsy,ham-fisted and a klutz" . Some of the possible agenda to which he and his ilk may be working is laid out here . Oh, and despite notionally listening, who has the PM seen fit to call in as his special close advisers for the NHS? Only McKinsey (the guys who gave us Enron and Railtrack among others).We have three major political parties in England, yet somehow just the one set of policy advisers (Lab used McKinsey too). Ain’t life grand?

Any-old-how, it’s now stupid minutes past daft o’clock,so the soapbox is being packed away until the next time,


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

TWH Vacancies Advert apr 11.doc

NAC 11×2 EC.pdf

MHNE Bulletin 5th May 2011.doc



mental-health-commissioning.pdf framework[1]may 2011.pdf


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