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Five Go For A Bill In Whitehall

November 4, 2014

Chuffing Nora – it’s been a heck of a two days.

Yesterday, Sara, Rich, Steve, George and me went up to the Department of Health and met with two of the most senior staff there to discuss #LBBill. I’m still finding it quite un-nerving discussing the Bill. Regardless of what the other person’s agenda is, it still feels strange that what started with a Tweet, then a blog post has now made its way to Whitehall. They were very interested in the background to the Bill and asked some challenging questions about the detail of the Bill. But we held our own and all in all, I would say it was a very productive meeting.

Flushed with the success of the meeting, I rather hoisted myself with my own petard later. I got back to Uxbridge much earlier than I expected, and as it was a respite night away, I decided to jump into a black cab to take me to the hotel. As the car drove away after dropping me off, I suddenly realised I was at the wrong hotel. My fault – not the driver’s – he took me precisely where I’d asked him to take me. I then had to wait just under an hour for another cab to take me to the right hotel.

This morning saw the official launch of #LBBill. The full Bill, easy read version and explanatory notes are here:

Steve has written a fabulous blog post about the Bill:

And like a whippet, Lucy Series has already blogged about the Bill:

Over the next few days and weeks, there will hopefully be lots of conversations about #LBBill. I love the collaborative nature of the #justiceforlb campaign and this is already the course the Bill is taking. It’s highly unusual and I can see that some people are mightily unsettled by this. But most people are energised and just jump on the bus, happy to be part of the journey.

One area of the Bill, as we expected, is already showing up as controversial. This is the final clause which seeks to remove learning disability and autism from the Mental Health Act. Concern is being expressed that without the MHA, some people could be left up shit creek without a paddle. I’m not sure about that – The Mental Capacity Act exists for the people we are focusing on and although it is still often ignored by professionals in the field, I still think it is the best mechanism for dealing with issues like capacity, best interests and deprivations of liberty.

I remember when Steven hit 18, being very shocked by how the support changed. From 5 until 16, he was under a learning disability paediatrician. Then we hit the two year void from 16 to 18 when nobody is responsible – discharged from children’s services but not old enough for adult services. And then two weeks after Steven’s 18th birthday, we suddenly received an appointment with a psychiatrist. I didn’t get that. Steven wasn’t mentally ill – he has autism. And then the inevitable happened – within two appointments, Steven was prescribed anti psychotics. I don’t know why. But it’s a familiar story. And it seems to me, it is usually done to cover the woeful or lacking provision of support. Medicate the person – that’ll shut them up.

Is autism and learning disability a mental illness? No. can people with autism or learning disabilities becoming mentally unwell? Yes, of course. If the latter happens, then the MHA will still apply, as it does for every other person in country.

But I think it would be great if #LBBill can stop that depressing cycle of: person starts to struggle with the transition into adulthood, no or inadequate services are set up; a psychiatrist is introduced, the person is moved to an ATU or long term hospital/residential placement, and then is put on a heavy duty medication regime. The problems of poor commissioning, awful support, the scandal of ATUs and the serious impact of medication get ignored and in the meantime, lots of people make lots of money out of the situation.

For me, Clause 8 follows on from the previous 7 clauses of #LBBill. The first 7 clauses are about the person’s right to live in their own home, of their choosing, in their own community. If we succeed in those, we could still be trumped by a ruthless authority that will contrive a mental health section to get their way in moving the person away. It nearly happened with Steven. It has happened with Claire Dyer and hundreds of other people. I, for one, would like to see that stopped.

Please get behind #LBBill. The next few weeks are about consulting as widely as possible. Pleas leave your comments on the #LBBill website, or on Twitter or Facebook. Something has started and it could be a game changer.


From → Social Care

  1. Magi permalink

    The times they are a changin … Huge Congratulations to everyone involved, I can’t wait to start lobbying my MP on the LBBill. Exciting times x

  2. Shirley Buckley permalink

    Mark you couldn,t be more right about the use of the MHA. When I spoketo Lord Hardie about the MCA I brought this up. Ihave pages and pages of a judgment by Charles which insist Martin should be sectioned. They are in the public domain. Might be very useful in the LBBill.campaign. Have you a lawyer I could post the judgment to?

  3. The drive to put young adults under the chemical cosh is all the more infuriating for the fact that if you approach your GP or CAMHS for help to access talking therapies to enable your anxious under-16 adolescent to understand and manage their anxiety, you basically get the back of their hand.

    “Here’s a website address”. As well as chief cook and bottle-washer, nurse, taxi-driver, admin clerk and staff trainer, tax accountant and night-watcher, I now have to add self-taught psychotherapist to my repertoire.

    Better start planning for the future. Maybe Monty Python can give me the website for the Bournemouth Amateur Gynaecologists?

  4. anonymous permalink

    Ethical Psychiatry….Fast forward 16 years…..Would one pour acid on ones computer? and if so what would happen?

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