Saturday, 23 January 2016

'NHS whistleblowers launch campaign for independent regulator' Herald Scotland 23Jan16

'NHS whistleblowers launch campaign for independent regulator' Victoria Weldon, Reporter, Herald Scotland, 23 January 2016:

"Two high profile whistleblowers are teaming up to launch a new campaign next week which will call for more independent regulation of the health service. 

Dr Jane Hamilton and Rab Wilson, who exposed concerns about the quality of care within NHS Scotland, have joined forces with around 50 other healthcare professionals. A petition supporting their action group will be launched on Wednesday. 

Their group, Action for a Safe and Accountable People’s NHS in Scotland (ASAP- NHS) wants an independent watchdog set up to oversee the health service and protect staff who speak out on patient safety. 

website link

It is also calling for better enforcement of existing health and safety legislation and Fatal Accident Inquiry determinations. 

Dr Hamilton, a consultant perinatal psychiatrist, claims her career in Scotland was ruined after she raised concerns about the Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) at St John's Hospital in Livingston and warned that patients could die. 

Two women patients subsequently took their own lives at the unit. 

Former psychiatric nurse Rab Wilson, who exposed a catalogue of errors surrounding the deaths of 20 patients at NHS Ayrshire and Arran, said the lack of independent regulation was a "huge black hole" in Scottish health provision. 

Dr Hamilton said: "I raised patient safety concerns and followed all the procedures open to me, went to every organisation that should have provided me with help and support, and it was always referred back to the health board, so nothing was ever independently reviewed. 

"That's why we need more accountability and transparency, the bottom line is that, at the moment, they inspect themselves and what they say goes." 

Dr Hamilton believes Scotland could follow England's lead where independent regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) monitors, inspects and regulates health services.
While Scotland has bodies such as Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) and the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO), critics claim they are not truly independent and do not have enough teeth. 

Dr Hamilton added: "There is no independent regulatory body in Scotland, there is nowhere for people to go to raise concerns about patient safety. 

"That's why several of us have come together to set up this group and take action." 

After raising her concerns in 2007, the doctor went off sick with stress related illness, then worked elsewhere but was not allowed to return to the unit, officially leaving NHS Lothian last year. 

The health board and Scottish Government have always insisted her concerns were thoroughly and independently investigated and were unfounded. 

Mr Wilson added: "The bodies of scrutiny we have in Scotland are just that - bodies of scrutiny. There is no regulation. These health boards can do whatever they like, they're answerable to no-one." 

He also claimed that recent initiatives such as an anonymous whistleblowing helpline for NHS staff had been "pretty useless". 

ASAP-NHS will launch officially at the Scottish Parliament building, with a website being set up featuring video clips of patients, families and NHS staff telling stories of their own experiences. 

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “The Scottish Government has made absolutely clear to health boards that they must ensure it is safe and acceptable for staff to speak up about any concerns they may have, particularly in relation to patient safety, and with the knowledge that any genuine concern will be treated seriously and investigated properly. 

“We are also in the process of establishing the role of an Independent National Whistleblowing Officer, to provide an independent and external review on the handling of whistleblowing cases in NHSScotland. 

“To provide a further level of independent local scrutiny, non-executive Whistleblowing Champions were introduced in each NHSScotland Board in November 2015. This all builds on the measures already in place, including an external confidential alert line, through which staff can raise concerns. 

“These actions should demonstrate our commitment to support whistleblowers across our NHS, and we hope this new pressure group can make a positive contribution to this agenda and the considerable work we have underway.”

Thursday, 14 January 2016

"It is unhealthy when NHS staff fear being open and honest" Helen Puttick @heraldscotland 14Jan16


'I no longer feel safe': Hole Ousia blog post, 17 October 2015

"I have reluctantly decided that I am no longer going to write any posts about NHS Scotland on Hole Ousia. I will however still continue to discuss health and wellbeing in the context of the “two cultures”.

My reason is that I no longer feel safe to speak out individually as an employee of NHS Scotland.

I will continue to advocate for transparency and accountability.

I feel very lucky to be a doctor. The NHS is so important to me. I have so many wonderful colleagues and I never cease to learn from the Scottish folk that I try to help when in a time of need.

I will always try my best to put patients first. That is the way I am. I do not agree with those who suggest that such a determination might be considered as a sign of illness.

Dr Peter J. Gordon"

The Friends of Liberty from omphalos on Vimeo.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Video: Aberdeen woman calls for @scotgov action while telling of 40-year ordeal with psychoactive drugs: @heraldscotland 2Jan16

Video: Aberdeen woman calls for @scotgov action while telling of 40-year ordeal with psychoactive drugs, Martin Williams, Herald Scotland, 2 January 2016

"A pensioner has told of her hell with psychoactive drugs for 40 years which drove her to make repeated suicide attempts while supporting a call for the Scottish Government to review their use.

Aberdonian Fiona French has launched a petition calling for ministers to recognise the issue with benzodizepines saying she has lost 40 years of her life to nitrazepam, a drug prescribed for myoclonic epilepsy and given to her for depression.

The 61-year-old has made a video detailing her ordeal in the hope that it will persuade the powers-that-be to reconsider how the drugs are prescribed.

"Action needs to be taken in Scotland. Little or no action has been taken in the UK over the past 30 years," she says.

She says that within two months of being diagnosed the tranquiliser nitrazepam in 1975 she lost a quarter of her body weight and tried to commit suicide.

"The next ten years were just absolutely terrible. I couldn't really function," she said. "I spent a great deal of time in bed, or I was an in-patient in hospital or attending day hospitals taking various typed of anti-depressants. I don't know whether they did any good or not.

"After ten years of living right that, I tried to commit suicide quite a few times, I came to the conclusion that it was something I would have to live with."

After taking retirement in 2012, a new GP suggesting tapering off the nitrazepam - but that led to a two year ordeal which saw her become bedridden through withdrawal symptoms.

She said the first six months in coming off the drug "were crazy" and she became sexually aroused all the time.

She could not watch TV, read, use a computer or listen to the radio.

"I couldn't stand noise, or bright lights, I couldn't do anything I just lay in bed. My nerves were screaming out at me as if they were all in heightened alert.

At her worst ebb, she described terrible head pressure, nerve pain and squeezing sensations in her brain.

"Sometimes I felt i was having a stroke," she said.

No she says she not longer feels depressed and thinks positively.

A Scottish Government spokesman insisted it took the issue of addiction to prescribed medicines very seriously, including treatment and support. 

It added: “In keeping with good clinical practice, clinicians should be providing on-going support and advice to patients prescribed medicines that are known to be addictive or with other long term effects. Where patients are concerned about the effects their medicines are having on their general wellbeing they should discuss this with their GP as soon as possible and alternative treatments that may be available.

“NHS Scotland has published guidance on polypharmacy which includes the recommendation that the use of benzodiazepines be reduced wherever possible. However, it’s important that decisions of this kind are for clinicians to make in discussion with their patients within the context of the patient’s long term recovery.”