WELCOME TO ALL FELLOW CAMPAIGNERS for DISABILITY RIGHTS - a pan disability blog connecting my work with, EQUAL LIVES, the National Survivor User Network (NSUN) and the Survivor History Group.

Protest, Norwich Job Centre

Protest, Norwich Job Centre
Fatso Gets Militant!

Monday, 3 June 2013

Mental Health Cuts in Norfolk and Suffolk

On Saturday last Bob Blizzard, ex MP for Lowestoft, organised a demonstration against the plans for Norfolk and Suffolk Mental Health Trust to cut 17 beds from the NHS dementia unit at Carlton Court in Carlton Colville, near Lowestoft.

I went and supported the demonstration. We had some initial problems; explained in this e mail to Ed Bober, the Secretary of Norfolk Coalition Against the Cuts:

“HI Ed. No doubt you will have read about protests about services beds cuts by the Norfolk and Suffolk Mental Health Trust. The latest is the bed cuts at Carlton Court. Now this hospital is sited over the border in Suffolk but it serves Gt Yarmouth too.

I think our Coalition should cover health as well as social care and welfare.

There is a Demonstration against the cuts at Carlton Court 12 noon on Saturday. I'm going representing DPAC Norfolk (I have past connections with the unit and its not far from where I live) but I'm a little bit embarrassed as a retired UNISON member that the union - usually good, keen activists in that area - seem to have decided on a deliberate absence! I'm trying to find out why, you don't know anything about this do you?”

Good for Ed he made some inquiries and we got these mails in return:

“It’s my branch. Happy for you to forward on my number to explain a complex situation. Also as a member led organisation I can tell you that members do not appear willing to participate in anything currently. 07787 538881. Emma
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Hi. I do know that my Branch Sec counterpart at this Trust, Lyn Wall, is pretty much overwhelmed dealing with hundreds of redundancies without much support. It might well not be a point of ‘policy’ at all – but ‘hands to the pumps’. I think if I’d retired, say,  five years ago I might not appreciate how much the pressure has grown since…
I will forward to her and to Sasha Pearce – who as Trades Council as well as the UNISON Regional Manager may be best-placed to comment on our prioritisation.
Regards, Harry Seddon.”

And good for them, they turned up at the demo and were brilliant.

It turns out Trevor Wright, the previous excellent Unison rep and my old mate from Northgate Hospital in Yarmouth had retired and the staff working for the trust who belong to UNISON are afraid to demonstrate because the Trust plans include unspecified redundancies so creating a blanket threat under which no-one dare step an millimetre out of line. I’m minded of the Tory landowners in the 19th century who would evict any of their tenants voting for another party. Scandalous!

The Trust’s excuse for these plans is that they are to set up specialist community teams to care for people with dementia at home and they will not cut any beds until these teams are in place.

I’ve worked in this area since 1978 - firstly in St Nicholas Hospital, Gt Yarmouth (replaced by Northgate Hospital when it closed) as a Mental Welfare Officer (MWO) then Approved Social Worker (ASW), then in the community in Suffolk (Beccles and Lowestoft) where I worked to Carlton Court and Northgate. From the beginning, some of us were concerned about the inadequacy of the mental health services (there was ONE social worker for the Suffolk side, based at St Nicholas Hospital) and no mental health accommodation whatsoever in Suffolk - everybody from there had to travel to Gt Yarmouth - service users and carers alike.

Some of us cared enough to press for better standards and facilities and eventually, after a good consultant was appointed, people with dementia, instead of being virtually imprisoned in a back ward of St Nicholas Hospital (Nelson Ward, made civilised by some, only some, caring nursing staff) were accommodated in a newly built unit, Mountbatten Ward. But the inadequacies remained and the next fight was for decent accommodation in the Suffolk area, eventually resulting in the building of Carlton Court; so you will appreciate, important in this campaign, that Carlton Court is a recent new build for people with dementia with the even more recent addition of an acute admission unit, a day centre and offices for community teams.

This present nauseating vandalism by the Trust, led by some clinical staff, especially one particular consultant psychiatrist, is propped by sly, clever propaganda that seems to have even fooled the Norfolk County Council Scrutiny Committee. I’m no supporter of institutional care and have worked intensely towards enabling people to live in their own communities. But we who have years of experience working in institutional and community environments know full well that many of those people with dementia (as evidenced by several ordinary people, carers, who were campaigning at Saturday’s demonstration) are impossible to care for in a domestic setting. Many are unpredictable, dangerous to themselves and violent to others - to provide proper care, maximised comfort and protection they absolutely need caring for in a residential unit such as Carlton Court provides. What are the clinicians going to do treating these people in their own homes - placing unimaginable stress on their carers - fill them full of anti-psychotic drugs until they are senseless cabbages?

No, this Trust is trying to induce delusions of tranquillity in all of us by preaching the building of specialist community teams. The reality is to improve conditions and standards in mental health we need both community resources and residential ones. Those beds in Carlton Court are the product of long campaigns to improve standards for the people of the Lowestoft area - and they have come to fruition in recent years. Destroying this valuable, valuable resource will be an act of unmitigated vandalism.

‘NO HEALTH WITHOUT MENTAL HEALTH’ Don’t make me laugh you Tory psychopaths.

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The Tough Tenor (when I could walk)!

In a Mellotone

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