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The Gang

January 15, 2016

For anyone remotely interested in the Human Rights of people with learning disabilities, it has been a very very dark week. I don’t even know where to start.

The appalling Southern Health board meeting. Monitor’s announcement that their action is to send in an expert to help Southern Health with their death reporting. Sarah Davies’ Inquest which has left the family with more questions than they had at the start. Another Inquest involving Southern Health with more “lessons learned”. Nina Ni’s announcement that Tizane is being moved to yet another ATU as the current placement are at a loss at how to ” treat ” him beyond prone Restraint 5 times a day. Paula Rawnsley sharing that one of the causes of death on Thomas’s death certificate was “downs syndrome”. Relentless horror.

With each Southern Health car crash people cry out ” why doesn’t anything change?” They are Teflon coated.

The obvious answer is they have no incentive to change. For one thing, there are no sanctions or penalties, either personal or corporate. But, I think, more importantly, they are part of The Gang and The Gang protects itself by the phenomenally successful tactic of disorientation. You don’t know where you are. There is a chasm between the words and actions. That is, if you actually get words. Most of the time you get deathly silence.

The Gang is very powerful. The Department of Health, NHS England, Monitor, The CQC, The Trusts themselves, the leading charities. I’ve read suggestions about bringing a human rights class action against the Gang. On the one hand it’s a fantastic idea but can you imagine the legal army The Gang would be able to assemble.

Two stories emerged this week that for me, are total head melts. In January 2014 when Monitor started their Investigation into Southern Health, they put out a number of strong statements along the lines of “no stone unturned” variety. The main spokesperson for Monitor was a chap called Paul Streat. At the Southern Health board meeting on Monday, there was a familiar face on the top table. Yep. In July 2015, mid investigation, Paul Streat left Monitor to work for Southern Health. The investigator jumped ship and joined the investigated’s flotilla.

On Tuesday, Monitor announced their plan to send in a Ninja expert. It got a fair bit of coverage. Needless to say, Mencap added their two pennysworth and did their usual outraged call for ….. something or other. These calls are empty words because Mencap are embedded in The Gang. What Mencap don’t shout about is that in Liz Hall, they have an appointed governor on the Southern Health board. In exactly the same way, they bluster whenever there is a care home scandal whilst being complicit because the CQC have failed some of Mencap’s own care homes.

That’s the thing with The Gang. You get so tangled up in all the nepotism, you don’t know where you are or who you are dealing with.

The real sadness that after all this time and the media and press playing a blinder, nothing has been able to penetrate the power of The Gang.

Winterbourne View anyone?

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From → Social Care

25 Comments
  1. Julie Owen permalink

    You’ve omitted universities from The Gang. Where do you think they send their students for placements. I’d love to know how students went to Winterbourne View from UWE and we’re told ‘not to rock the boat’.
    And don’t forget the NAS who certainly forgot they were a charity a long time ago.

    • Trudy permalink

      As was a student, threatened with losing his place on his course, when he raised his concerns re (what was uncovered eventually and reluctantly as,years and years) of gross neglects, and sexual and physical abuse and in Long Care homes, by manager and others. (see John Pring’s book for heart rending facts. A book that should be on very social work course.)

      This scandal has disappeared into the mist, suffocated?, As have so many other abuse scandals. Long care families were disrespected and forced to fight for justice; staff and managers of Long care were tried and sentenced in court, LA that fought families to court door,.no heads rolled and the chairman remained in post for years.

      GP prescribing the pill to the learning disabled women being raped by staff, was not struck off.

      • Julie Owen permalink

        Yes I read up about Long Care recently and that was shocking.

    • The universities, also train the nurses, and social workers etc , and do the’ research’, and find that needed to support government legislation, policy and training, which they then do..

      Its a huge cabal, with no independence, that all are forced to feed into, if they want a qualification with no oversight, or dissent. All is prescribed the antithesis to education and expertise.

      And all feed into. the gravy train. and all university is tax free income from students, government funds, and a sea of voluntary work, which the worker, actually pays to do, this is the height of commercial awareness , which someone would call greed.

  2. Cinnamon permalink

    Aside from the Justice for LB campaign, who else is rocking the boat by doing research on what’s happening and/or highlighting failings in provision, incompetence, institutionalized neglect and complicity?

    (I’m new to all of this and working out how best to rock my local boat re: ASD)

    • Shirley Buckley permalink

      no one

      • Julie Owen permalink

        Here’s the thing; if you don’t want to know the answer you don’t do the research!

    • weary mother permalink

      People who may think they are kind in every other way, but who have no direct experience of mental ill health or learning disability,just see difference from the norm/them.. Out of cuddly childhood, many of our children look different from the mainstream. And the same ‘kind’ people think that when our son or daughter dies, that he/she is merely a burden that has been taken away from us.

      Truly wicked,people see us and our sons and daughters as a waste of Public money. Others, equally wicked, see us as an earning opportunity.

      Television programmes, where people with mental ill health and learning disabilities take part, do little to change these perceptions. Not until people come face to face, get to know a person LD, do they begin to alter their wrong, prejudices and, attitudes…Most of us, with a son or daughter with a learning disability will have lived to some degree reassured within a group of good friends, or perhaps secure in the community that shares a learning disability. The mainstream is out there apart from us, perhaps we mums and dAd’s granny and grandad need to get out there ? .

      For, we seem to spend a lot of our our time educating already over educated professionals; too many of whom believe we families have little or no learning to pass on?. But are good for an afternoon out of the office?

      However, on the positive side, I believe that people outside of our learning disability community would be outraged to learn how easily our sons and daughters die unmourned and neglected in the NHS and ‘care’ settings,, And would be equally outraged to know that people are suffering in huge numbers, currently, unsupported in their community.

      Not a whisper today in the broad sheets of the SHFT extraordinary Board meeting on Monday last.(Extraordinary only in the disgraceful shameful way it disrespected dignified Sara Ryan and her family, and every parent and person with a learning disability).

      The need to educate the press is a good measure of where we need to start?

      • Sally permalink

        Weary mother, what often strikes me is that people meant to be working with/for people with LD/ASD are often not very comfortable actually being anywhere near them. They greatly prefer talking to the parent ,often ignoring the person with ASD utterly. Now, while of course many people with these conditions have great difficulty in understanding and communicating, there is a difference between the practitioner who is friendly, pleased to see them, does everything possible to include them, in what is going on, and puts them as a person first and foremost.Then we have the others , who look appalled or faintly disgusted especially at any oddities of speech and behaviour, make no effort to understand, and treat the LD person like an obstreperous dog and you as the owner who is not getting him or her to sit properly.
        I remember a whole hour at a continence clinic stuck in an office while a nurse pointedly blocked my son’s attempts to say anything and talked right through him to me. A the end I asked why the hell she had taken the job as she was so ill at ease with the disabled.
        For heaven’s sake, let’s think about the odious CEO of Sloven who holds colossal power. I don’t think she has been alone in a room with a learning disabled person in her life.

        I think we do need to be a lot more militant especially now most of the charities are toothless. (NAS press office to me “we do not involve ourselves in politics” after the Boris Johnson crack about the less able being cornflakes not rising to the top of the box)
        We could shout, debate, stage protests and most of all tackle head on the attitudes lying just under the caring speak. Let’s face it. Many people rather think our offspring would be better dead or at least to never have been born. Why, contribute nothing to any finances!. Worse, they never have , they never can ! Well ,lets have that argument openly . Let’s haul that CEO onto Newsnight and take her through why a dead teenager with ASD is , seemingly in her eyes so very much less of a concern than a dead neuotypical.

      • Brilliant. We have nothing to lose. We have to stop the fearful pussy footing subservience

      • Julie Owen permalink

        Well let me know when we are off to London to throw soiled pads at Houses of Parliament and I will be there.

    • Julie Owen permalink

      Are you referring to the drive to remove ‘ghost patients’?

      • I refer to the policy of LAs to remove adults to supported living, which appears to be, effectively, the main, if not only adult service provision.

        Those removed may be the ghost patients, if that means they remain on their old family GP register, but I’m not sure, if that is what you mean by ghost patients?

      • What is a ghost patient?

      • Julie Owen permalink

        Supposedly patients that have moved away but still remain registered with a former GP. Interestingly, when I was at school one of our local GPs was sent to prison for fraud for claiming for large number of patients (including my family) who were no longer with his practice. In fact dozens of them had emigrated to Australia!
        In one drive to cull GP lists, letters were sent to everyone on the list and they were asked to send back a form confirming that they had not moved away. There was opposition as it was feared vulnerable adults wouldn’t reply and would then be removed from the GP register.

      • That’s what I was wondering and proffered a suggestion.

      • Julie Owen permalink

        Sorry I’m using a BlackBerry and previous comments not accessible!

  3. Paul Williams permalink

    I wholeheartedly agree. The rot set in when voluntary organisations were persuaded to become service providers rather than campaigners. They sold their souls to the devil. Real campaigning organisations like Values Into Action couldn’t get funding and went under. There are now no powerful bodies acting independently for the rights of people with learning difficulties.

    • Cinnamon permalink

      Indeed. Nor, apparently, for ASD.

    • Yes, all voluntary sector controlled by charity commission by the Charity Commission under Charity Act 2006, and funds now mainly from government, and smaller charities, have found it hard to survive, particularly with all the new red tape and no government funds.

      Which, is exactly what governments have connived for and got.

      They use the third sector, to promote, implement, and canvas their own policies, and then provide these services to make more income. This has happened big time with the National Autistic Society.

      However, now they are overlooked for services, as now mainly commissioned to private corporations, most supported living now being backed by private venture capital,

      But we still have mainly private/public partnerships for post 16 education packages .

  4. weary mother permalink

    ……………………….And, below, set in context of Jenny Morris’s excellent blog spot………..:

    The beautiful little drowned boy on the beach in his leather shoes, hit the hearts of nations. He ‘could have been my little boy/grandson’. Millions of people EMPATHISED

    Attitudes to this marginalised group, (refugees) changed over night.

    There is discourse in the media, and private conversations (see Jenny’s excellent summary) about ‘useful’ and not ‘useful’ PEOPLE..

    Jenny Morris’s short paper reflects a social context where ‘OUR’ scarce resources are (potentially) being wasted on the non productive. The older old, PEOPLE, and our children.

    In our Democracy free speech must be protected. Mature conversations are being held on both the importance of free speech and the potential dangers of unchallenged negative beliefs, on race, religion, culture, sexuality and gender etc.etc But where is a PUBLIC dialogue being raised on growing negative beliefs around learning disability ?

    At the present time, our children can be openly described as a burden on their family and society; they can die in thousands far too early, or be euthenased in womb in NHS, and not draw a line of concern in the press.. Of too little value, just a burden or a cost..

    ………….. open PUBLIC dialogue needed asap, before life gets really really scary……………………..?

    • The press are gagged. All media manipulate, to the agenda the government want, which is to make profit by any means from the public.

      This makes the UK deficit larger ,and not only destroys the people who need the public service, but also rips our country’s money off ie out of public into private profit.

      We are all now POTENTIAL commodities for health and welfare………….

    • Julie Owen permalink

      Very true, very true. Government just launched another prenatal test for Downs Syndrome.

  5. Sally permalink

    We are up against the revulsion of the general population towards people who don’t /can’t earn, who make odd noises/ behave in odd ways /are not judged attractive..etc etc. You see it with the elderly (Weak, unattractive might even smell), the learning disabled ,the autistic. It is still seen as funny to mock the elderly in TV shows and cartoons. The leaned disabled-well, unless you are Trump you have to be more subtle. But “Retard” as an insult is alive and well.
    I am tired of being terrified, quite terrified, about the world’s distaste for learning disabled people, and what it might mean for my son.
    It’s not just overt statements it’s the double standards when an LD person is mistreated. The unsaid conclusion at the end of a “winners are best…rid Society of scroungers” rant. The repackaging of serious disabilities as management speak “challenges” and “goals” which can be signposted away.

    What I want out of any charity or organisation supposed to be fighting for the disabled are forceful loud rebuttals of those attitudes. Identifying the hostility and loudly and publicly taking it on.
    I don’t remember any picketing by the NAS or MENCAP around,say the death of Connor Sparrowhawk? Where are the hunger strikes on the doorsteps of those responsible for cutting services? The banners? The loudhailers? When was the last time anybody from a disability charity was chucked out of a meeting for making a racket and shouting rude questions at a CEO or politician? Where is the throwing of custard pies, the hacking of the Southern Health CEO’s motivational PowerPoint presentation with brutal facts about ATU deaths?
    Come on charities, get angry. Lots to yell about.We don’t just want a tea towels with inspirational quotes from you!

  6. Pauline Thomas permalink

    Sally I must agree with alot of what you have said. Mencap and Nas and Scope don’t do picketing. They prefer to cosy up to the powerful ones and try to influence them from inside the magic circle. That way they do not upset the cart too much just in case they lose the funds that are keeping them in the manner in which they become accustomed . Much more civilised! They cannot afford to be seen as boat rockers! Leave that sort of behaviour to the peasants or should I say families of the people with LD.

    However, and this is a big however, local Mencaps and the people working or volunteering in these organisations are in many cases providing on the ground good services which enable learning disabled people to have a better quality of life. I speak from my experience with our local Mencap. My husband and I actually went today to look at a scheme run by Mencap in a adjoining borough to us and it was an eye-opener. There is nothing like this wonderful woodworking/craft making/male orientated workshop in our borough at all. It makes a change from day services that only seem to cater for the art/dancing/cooking crafts that are aimed more at females than men.

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