Later May news, opinion and stuff from the world of mental health, health and social care

Crikey. Turn your back for a minute to attend to some minor business (like work, or actually getting stuff done…) and the news piles up like drifting snow in Siberia or windswept sand in the Sahara.Or like the washing-up round at ours.

As per usual there’s a tripartite approach to the news: firstly the local,sub-regional and regional stuff on MH (plus MH stuff from our partners at NSUN): secondly the wider health and social care news that will impact on us all in some way; and thirdly the opinion stuff, largely dominated by the current Govt’s proposals to ‘reform’ the NHS, rapidly turning into an epic tale of battle (some of the combatants laid out here) to rival the Odyssey, though with much hot air ("κακὸν δ’ ἀνεμώλια βάζειν": prize if you can translate that), heated debate and an,er,idiosyncratic listening exercise.More on that later.In the meantime find PJ’s fantastic powerpoint on all of the proposed structural changes: now in version 2, odds are we’ll be up to version 12 or 13 by Autumn…

Righty-ho, on to the first course:
Please see attached the latest MHNE bulletin, and we have not one or two, but three (weep at the munificence) NSUN bulletins, here,here and here

Related to MHNE, and something which has been presented to both the NTWSU&C network and NEt, the region-wide one, is the Critical Friends project (info attached):

What do people who use mental health services in the north east really think about personal budgets and direct payments? We want to hear your stories and experiences.

The Critical Friends project is now collecting individual experiences of the self directed support process, including service users and carers perspectives, those who have been given direct payments, and those who have not (whether from lack of information or because they are deemed ineligible). In addition to collecting individual experiences, group work will help to develop common themes and to create an agenda that will then be presented to and discussed with social care managers and commissioners in local authorities, with the aim of influencing the ongoing implementation of personalisation. Information and learning from the project will also be used to increase interest and awareness of personalisation across the mental health service user and carer community.

Next up a whole host of stuff from North Tyneside carers: they’re putting on a gig and a comedy show.(zip file attached)
Gigs or comedy not your thing? How about football? Colin from Groundwork sends on news of an exciting "world cup" tournament for Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP).(attached).

What else do we have with a local flavour? Why courtesy of the constantly admirable Bill Scott is news of a new group, one to support adults with a diagnosis or label of ADHD, or who have problems in that area. It meets in Newcastle (flyer attached, for more details ring Bill on 0191 493 6916) but will welcome folk from wherever.Next meeting is June 20th, 7pm. If you want to listen to a radio broadcast on the subject, click here.

And there is the North Tyneside MDF (Manic Depression Fellowship), whose next meeting, in a kind of relaunch (so support ’em) will take place on Thursday 16th June 2011 at the Shiremoor Centre, in the old UCAN room 6-8pm.

What now as we begin to move further afield for our second course, but still pointing out the use of local ingredients (this metaphor’s now more strained than the atmosphere chez Giggs).
There’s a mental health film festival (15th June, Customs House, Sth Shields) being staged by our old amigo Graeme Smith, who has plans for it to become an annual, international cinematic event. See the flyer and use this link to book a place, but be warned, they’re going fast.

What now? Ah, well, registration is now open for the 8th European Congress of Community Psychology, 15-16 September, in York. The ‘early bird’ registration has been extended to 15 June,click here to sign up, and many thanks to Jacqui Lovell for bringing us this news (and she’ll be running a workshop).

The next attachment brings us into the field of slightly wider health and social care, but comes from NEMHDU (the North East Mental Health Development Unit) and is a report into social prescribing, and how it can improve patient outcomes and be cost effective. [note:What's not mentioned is details about money, and where it comes from for social
prescribing. If the money for the prescribed activities does not
accompany the service user, then it's not prescribing but is more tailored signposting
to projects and services that someone else is funding. This would mean
social prescribing in essence piggy-backing on others' expenditure
(expenditure/funding that may not last, or be sustained).Sort the finances and we're rockin' and rolling.

Okay, we’re past the concept of courses now, and it’s degenerating into a free-for-all buffet.

Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health. Loads of good (if varying in approach) work done on the ground by Community Development Workers. We knew that. A shortfall in strategy and leadership at the (very well-paid) top of the programme in London? That was suspected and a new report backs up that view (attached).

And so to (inevitably dismaying) news on social care and also the voluntary and community sector, plus the ever-vexing issue of benefit reform, WCA assessments and the pressures felt by service users. Quick heads-up that the next North East Mental Health Welfare Action Group will next gather (after a successful inaugural meeting this week) on the 27th of June in the big room (the Soup Kitchen) at Launchpad, address in the signature below. Suggestions for future venues welcome,please. Bob Hudson from Durham Uni writes well about the "Poundlandisation" of public services under the Big Society banner (and the erstwhile BS Tsar, "Lord" Wei has left the building, as he can’t spare the time to volunteer for BS. Irony,much?). The dilemma for the VCS is rather neatly laid out in this opinion piece, and in many circles, the term Serco-isation is being bandied about (Serco being a private sector behemoth).Will nobody think of the service users in all this (and I don’t mean that facetiously)?

Social care storms are a-brewing too: some may recall the attempt by Birmingham City Council to massively restrict entitlement to services (ie enormous cut-backs) which was previously reported upon. Well, it’s been declared unlawful, which is a finding with massive implications.Have I mentioned the growing North/South care money divide? Guess who ends up the poor relation? And somehow, councils are going to have to mind the money to fulfil a public health role,too, which is looking like a tough call in the North East (thanks, Ray).Benefits and WCA assessments continue to cause great distress, but fret not, since apparently,we’ve seen the introduction of Mental Health Champions in ATOS assessment centres.But they’re actually just contactable by telephone, and nobody seems to have encountered such a Champion, nor is information available (not even to Jobcentre+ staff) as to their number, role,qualifications, or indeed exactly what they are championing, and whose ‘side’ they are on (thanks Tim) . And DLA, since you didn’t ask? Well, it’s replacement is going to be called PIP, or Personal Independence payment,official details here . A hard-hitting response is here.

At last,to the NHS ‘reforms’ (and thanks to AP for additional reporting). What can be said? Medics suggest that the whole health bill ought to be withdrawn,.Even Mr Lansley concedes that, procedurally, the Bill might not survive as is. Concerns are again raised about conflicts of interest.The Bill’s ‘workability’ is cast in doubt, but the PM tells us all about TINA again (There Is No Alternative). A key advisor to the PM tells the private sector to fill their boots (I paraphrase slightly). Nick Clegg pledges to take a stand (like General Custer?) against bits of the legislation: cynics say he’s really peeved at the calibre of its punctuation and grammar. Andrew Lansley takes part in an entertaining webchat with Guardian readers, medics,managers,patients etc. Did he cherry-pick the questions to answer, avoiding the tricky ones? Did he play fast and loose with evidence, and get spotted doing so? Did he shoe-horn patently pre-scripted answers into his dialogue. Did he listen with his mouth? You decide. (Worth a decko). Actually, you could fill the whole of the interwebz with debate and opinion on the proposed Bill (I say proposed, but let’s face it, it’s happening or has happened), most of such opinion being critical of Mr Lansley, but those with long memories may enjoy this comment from a different Guardian debate on the NHS:

I can’t help going back to 1999 and the creation of Primary Care Groups (PCGs). This was the description of them at the time:
Primary Care Groups (PCGs) in England emerged on 1 April 1999, having developed from a range of pre-existing primary/community National Health Service (NHS) commissioning models. Depending on local circumstances, a PCG serves a population of between 50 000 and 250 000 and is a subcommittee of the local health authority. Each PCG is governed by a board comprising clinicians (e.g. general practitioners, community nurses, social workers), health authority and local government authority representatives and lay people who have responsibility for the health of their local population. PCGs have three key functions: to contribute to improving the health of their local community (via the local Health Improvement Programme*), focusing particularly on sections of the population with the greatest need; to develop primary care and community services based on identified health needs; and to advise the health authority on, or commission directly, secondary care services for the population they serve. PCGs are also responsible for ensuring that the health services available for their populations are delivered to a consistently high standard.

Does this sound horribly familiar to the development of GP Consortia and changes proposed by the Lib Dems? Whatever happened to them? Let me think. Ah yes, I remember. They evolved into PCTs as GPs found that Commissioning wasn’t really their forte and they needed bolstering by Health Authority Commissioning Managers who did have more expertise. Plus ca change….

Should you have ventured this far down the e-mail, you may be thinking that you’ll never get back those minutes spent reading it, but pause and think: I’ll never get back the seconds spent writing it."But at my back I always hear/Time’s winged chariot hurrying near", but remember the sooner you fall behind, the more time you’ll have to catch up.


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

Health and social care bill and changes V2 final 19-5-11.ppt

MHNE Bulletin 23rd May 2011.doc

Critical Friends Project Further Information.pdf

Flyer Critical Friends.pdf

EIP soccer.doc

Newcastle Adult ADHD support group draft flyer.doc

MHFF11 Flyer1-3.pdf

Social Prescribing_FINAL.doc


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