Lavish late June mail-out of mental health, health and social care news,views and opinions

June’s a-drawing to an end, but there’s still time to squeeze in a mail-out before the glories of July are upon us (Wimbledon finals, Henley Royal Regatta, Lord’s test match for the few;close season transfer speculation,sunburn and Mr Whippy on a windswept beach for the many).

Let’s put such jolliness to one side though and crack on with the usual mélange of local regional and national views news and stuff relating to mental health, health and social care. In a free-form format

(is that an oxymoron?) because if it doesn’t get shovelled out now, then it will be July and that opening line and the mail-out title will be wrecked. Structure,schmuckture, the clock’s ticking…

First up, because it’s on soon,like er, Monday (4th of July) is the visit of the MIND bus to Newcastle.

Next we have (attached in zip format) news of new service user run peer support groups in North Tyneside, a Wellness, Recovery Support Group (starts on July 12th) and a Social Out and About Group (July 7th), cheers to Jane. Also on the theme of new activities, please also find Crisis Skylight’s new timetable attached.
News too of a feedback event (July 12th) from the Mental Health Research Network North East hub on Bipolar research.Thanks, Anna and Saffra.

Now news of an event by the user-run organisation Voices Empowered, putting on an MH Employment Training and Education (20th July 2011), ta to them, and Jackie and Helen.n.b. places are in short supply, flyer and registration form attached..

Courtesy of Maureen is the ever-excellent NEMHDU round-up (news’n’snippets, attached) and as per usual here’s a link to NSUN’s bulletin (and also, true to form, is the accompanying advice to sign up and join ’em, because all of the local and regional service user and carer networks have benefited from them).

Further reading comes with the splendid CQC guide to LINks as they begin to shape-shift into local HealthWatches (cheers, Jane and Paul), and if your eyes aren’t sated, but are voraciously seeking yet more material to consume we have a document courtesy of Toni, via Paul, prepared for Surrey, which makes explicit the cost of not supporting carers: see points 40-44.

What next, but a palate-cleansing Medicines Management Committee update from NTW NHS Foundation Trust (attached).
Medication not your thing, well then, courtesy of Paul (Wigham) here is a link to a site critical of psychiatric medication, verging on anti-psychiatry. Note: always,but always seek advice if altering your drug regime.

A very entertaining (and scientifically literate) mini-essay on the notion of mental ill-health as chemical imbalance in the brain can be read here (short version:things are way more complicated than an imbalance of X,Y or Z chemical).Thanks must go to Louise for this interesting article about a world expert on suicide and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) who has finally ‘come out’ and admitted that these are issues she has herself experienced, but keep quiet about because of the associated stigma.

Okay, now for the interrelated topics of the voluntary sector,social care and welfare ‘reform’. No good news here, I’m afraid.We await next week’s judgement from the Supreme Court (feels odd typing that in reference to the UK) on the case of R (Elaine McDonald) v Kensington & Chelsea RBC . This could profoundly affect social care. Big, big threats to voluntary and community action have been laid out in previous mail-outs, but the attached pdf (NCIA) is very well worth a read (thanks, Jo). All of the heads of the political parties seem to be signed up to the notion of the mandatory work programme.The programme that sees some remarkable things such as mandatory activity as a ‘volunteer’… Shame it’s been shown to be fundamentally flawed by a Parliamentary Select Committee…Also on benefit ‘reform’, the first ESA appeals were received in January 2009. Since that time, up to April of each year, there have been:

1,300 ESA appeals lodged in 2008-09
126,800 ESA appeals lodged in 2009-10
197,400 ESA appeals lodged in 2010-11
50,100 mental health claimants appealed and 21,200 were successful, giving a 42% chance of success on appeal.That would seem to indicate something very,very amiss with the atos assessments.

The tribunals service is creaking under this level of demand,but once appeals from newly reassessed IB benefit claimants who’ve not secured ESA really come through, then the system will be overwhelmed (and yet legal aid for welfare benefits advice is being axed..) leaving many in straitened limbo.A carer’s view is here.And the trumpeted notion of having disability and lived-experience service users sitting on appeal panels (which would probably raise the rate of successful appeals, and also be empowering).? Put on ice.

Oh, and confused by the benefits system? Potentially that’s a £50 fine.
Meanwhile, you might be interested in the views of some of the front-line staff working in those agencies tasked with getting people back to work. They’re not a happy bunch (nor hugely respectful of their clients), and besides being overburdened, thus being rendered less capable of delivering an adequate service, those staff themselves are seeing their own working terms and conditions deliberately undermined by their profit-hungry employers.

A very damning piece on the impacts on disabled people with the loss of benefits is here, and attached are details for an event in Ashington on July 21st, part of the Hardest Hit campaign (ta, Annie and also Mick). If you are in the mood for campaigning, then YoungMinds are running "Justice for Joe",Joe Paraskeva,a 20 year old with bipolar disorder who has been sentenced to an indeterminate sentence in prison for attempting to break out of an inpatient unit whilst under section.

Did you think that this round-up was missing content on NHS reform and the Health and Social Care Bill, back from its pause? Fear not, it’s been through the rigours (ahem) of the Future Forum (so,so very representative…), the Government has responded, and we have a Bill that looks totally different, because it’s now in Times New Roman instead of Arial type. It’s jumped the shark some say (very droll piece, and by the way, that’s a Happy Days reference turned into a metaphor) while the BMJ calls for the whole thing to be buried as it has been a whole process run in a "harebrained fashion". A devastating take-down of the entire exercise("This affair has become an Alice in Wonderland, Hall of Mirrors with the DH rapidly descending into a into a collective role as a shrill Queen of Hearts") is here.The BMA (termed by some as the doctors’ "union") don’t seem to like the new look much either. Some very good reasons not to like it much, despite the make-over are here, and here, but y’know, we’re get to get it in some form or other. It doesn’t appear that mental health will exactly benefit much from the upheaval and changes, but fret not, we have the best mental health services in the world, according to Hugh Griffiths (late of this parish) and Louis Appleby in a rather bold piece. Their assertions are certainly questioned by the comments beneath their brief article.

And so the month ends, and this mail-out sneaks under the wire, just in 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

Summer Timetable.pdf

Feedback final version.pdf

seminar poster pdf.pdf

Seminar Registration Form 1[1].pdf

News and snippets 17.6.11.doc

20110622 A guide for CQC and LINKs final.pdf

Select Committee Carers Jan 2011.doc

MMC Newsletter July 2011 final version.doc

NCIA privatisation.PDF

Hardest Hit Campaign Event Ashington.doc

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