Flashback and data dump: End of August, end of summer, mail-out of of mental health, health and social care news,views and opinions

So, that was summer:A Tory Government cutting away, economy in recession, riots across the nation,a Royal Wedding, and an all-conquering England cricket team.Welcome to 1981 (put money on Tottenham to win the FA Cup). Except that then a Mars bar cost 14p,20 cigs cost £1.02,a pint of beer 58p,and TV viewers were glued to Triangle and Sorry!

Anyhow, allons-y, let’s go.

Newsletters galore, with one, two,three round-ups courtesy of our chums at NSUN, who’ve got an AGM coming up later this year (poster attached). Stop press, and just in is a fourth NSUN bulletin, this one also featuring “our” very own Aidan Moesby.Stop stop press, as here’s a fifth.

Attached is the latest from South Tyneside Carers (mhcss)

On the topic of carers please also find attached a poster for information about the NIWE carers group which is aimed at carers (whether parents, partners, friends or siblings) supporting or looking after loved ones experiencing eating distress or an eating disorder. The carers group is open to individuals living across the Northern Region.

Then there’s the latest MHNE bulletin also affixed.

The latest Service Users in Research Bulletin is likewise appended.

More attachments come in the form of a pdf to remind you all, users and carers of the Critical Friends project about personalisation and personal budgets in mental health. Read it and participate if you can,please. There’s also a nicely compiled couple of articles courtesy of Lionel Joyce, taken from the New York Review of Books (the file’s called psychiat.doc). Last attachment is interesting and concerns research into service user attitudes towards personalised health (as opposed to social care) budgets. Pretty sobering reading for gung-ho advocates of a marketised, shop around system: service users aren’t keen, and feel we’ve had our fingers burned by the implementation of social care personalisation.

Oh, and here’s a quick link to our pals (Hi,Jason) at Chipmunka publishing who are making 50+ of their titles available gratis for download during September.In there are umpteen tales of mental health and recovery.

Now would normally be the point at which you would expect an extended screed of text trying to somehow combine umpteen news items and snippets into a (semi-) coherent “narrative” (everything’s a narrative these days, just as any assortment of people is a “community”: when one reads about the fountain pen community, then the term’s utility has surely diminished). Not this time though. Links and little more. Do explore the pieces to which the links lead, mark you, for in among there are pearls of wisdom, news both surprising and disappointingly predictable, and the odd counter-intuitive curiosity.

So in no particular order:

The doctor will Skype you now, and a a not-unrelated account of a hospital trust encouraging carers to comfort loved ones by teleconference, instead of in person, so that the trust avoids paying travel expenses. Hope nobody in our neck of the woods gets too inspired. Digital divide? What’s that then?

New study finds no evidence that crisis resolution and home treatment teams have any impact on psychiatric admissions, something that might put the CAT among the pigeons (Thank you, thank you, I’m here all week, after the leek club and the bingo, but before the band).

The NHS U-turn was a fake . By the way got to love the fact that of the much heralded 1,000 ministerial amendments to the NHS bill, a full three-quarters relate merely to swapping the term “clinical commissioning group” for the previously-favoured phrase GP consortia. Now, that’s giving the public and professional bodies exactly the changes they cried for. Some learned, evidence-based reasons against the NHS reforms as (still) framed are here. Competition in healthcare: the risks. And just what would the NHS have to look like for competition to work? [Hint: not what’s being proposed]. Marketisation and choice has a downside, after all.

And who, down the line, will actually be responsible for y’know delivering NHS services, free at the point of delivery,yadda yadda? Well, it appears that it might not be the Secretary of State or the Govt. Perish the thought that there may be some pre-emptive buck-passing going on in case things go really pear-shaped, and heaven forfend that bringing someone,anyone, to account might become trickier.Did the notion of scrutiny raise its head? Why I think it may just have done so, and there are already warnings being given that public involvement and scrutiny will be toothless and potless, so where that leaves mental health service user and carer involvement (as opposed to just rolling along to be fed some corporate info) is anyone’s guess.Probably on the fringe of things, that is, if it even exists in the future. And that brave new world of GP commissioning? Well, “the suspicion must remain that the DH does not want the full story to be revealed [about the costs]” http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm78/7877/7877.pdf p.6

Whoops, slipped back into commentary mode there, old habits die hard (but Bruce Willis doesn’t die in those films: go figure), So, back to unvarnished,unsifted linkage:

The Department for Work and Pensions has sent “hostile” and “threatening” letters across the country to disabled people receiving support from the Access to Work (AtW) scheme (ta to John Pring).

The self-same DWP admits using dodgy figures to advance the case for disability ‘reform’ (a.k.a cuts), and the statistics authority has had to step in.. Not that you’d know by the press coverage.

A report by the Papworth Trust, which found that disability living allowance recipients fear the government is unfairly penalising people with disabilities.

Those lovely people at Atos, who administer the Work Capability Assessment (on the subject of which there’s a fresh call for evidence and views) attempt to close down websites critical of their operating procedures, while at the same time having to investigate after employees’ “dehumanising” Facebook comments

CQC Mental Health survey published.Less than half of participants ‘definitely’ understood their care plan, gulp.

Some mental health (performance) targets for GPs may be scrapped

Some councils withdrawing social workers from Community Mental Health Teams.

Do Community Treatment Orders work?

New resources to help practitioners working with people with experience of mental health problems

Psychotherapies are as good as antidepressants for treating most types of adult depression, whereas stepped care may be no better than usual care for depression in primary care.

A practical guide for line managers who support staff with mental health conditions.

Psychoeducation seems to work for Schizophrenia, reducing relapse and readmission.

And finally, a thoughtful piece on mental health treatment: “It’s tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

By the way, we’re considering distributing news in a different format, using the village notice board de nos jours, Twitter (some of us being on there already,effing and jeffing like good ‘uns). So in a true spirit of involvement, with an honest heart and no loaded questions (markedly unlike others *cough* Dept of Health *cough*), do you think

i) Fantastic, I’m down with the kids,daddy-oh, tweet away.

ii) Oh dear. Not my cup of Darjeeling at all.140 characters is an overly reductive nonsensical constraint upon civilised discourse.

iii) Leave it out, that’s like watching your parents dancing. And Twitter’s past it anyhow.

iv) What is Twitter? What did I come upstairs for?

v) Pigeon post for me please.



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


mhcss summer 2011[1].pdf


MHNE Bulletin 19th August.doc


AGM advert.pdf

Critical Friends Project Further Information for Participants FINAL.pdf


User and carer views on personal budgets in MH.pdf

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s