Three New Monstrosities

I can’t promise that this post will be free of swear words.


Let’s just remind ourselves of a couple of current government initiatives. NHS England have made a commitment to cut the number of in patient beds for people with learning disabilities/autism. The CQC have made a commitment not to register any more of these large institutions.

What a load of fucking shysters.

Because their friends, their partners, in the rapidly growing private in patient industry are definitely not “on message”.

Yesterday, Cygnet announced they will be opening a new 14 bed unit in Harrow (just down the road from me), this coming November:

Only last week, the same company Cygnet were “delighted” that by working with their NHS “partners” they could announce the building of a 65 bed unit in Maidstone:

And completing a notorious hat trick of announcements in one week, ASC Healthcare announced a “coming soon” event on their website – the opening of a new 54 bed low secure unit in Wrexham:

Wrexham Low Secure Hospital – Coming Soon

Last week’s excellent Lancaster University report for 7 Days of Action talked about the “Kevin Costner” principle – If you build it, they will come…

Cygnet and ASC are not building these units to stand empty. In the next few months, 133 ripe commodities will be exported from their homes and imported into one of these shiny new carbuncles. With their “day spaces” and “horticultural spaces”. Probably for many many years.

The LAs and the CCGs must be rubbing their hands with glee. They won’t have to pay a penny for the “care” of the 133 stock. NHS England will be footing that bill. And as we’ve seen with many NHS services, Simon Stevens is happy to sanction this as it satisfies the government’s agenda.

Scrolling through the Cygnet website last night, I saw a ghost. Back in 2010, Hillingdon put Steven out to tender. To my knowledge, they got at least six private providers happy to import Steven to one of their hospitals. In my desperate attempt to stop the trade of Steven, I developed a patter on the phone to these providers – “Oh by the way, you may have seen Steven on the BBC News. Would you be prepared to be interviewed by Private Eye about your plans?” It worked with four of them, including the Cygnet hospital, and they withdrew their tenders.

The ghost? Steven’s old treating NHS psychiatrist is one of the consultant psychiatrists at Cygnet’s Harrow Unit. Just imagine! In 2010, the responsible clinician was prepared to export Steven from his service to the company where he has a financial stake.


This is happening all over. Last week, I heard the story of an independent psychiatrist called in to give a second opinion on the discharge plan of a guy with autism from an NHS ATU. A week later, the guy is admitted to the private facility where the independent psychiatrist is employed as the consultant psychiatrist. A trade, yielding the private company £7000 per week.

That’s why these three new Units are being built.

There’s gold in them Harrow on the Hills.

31 thoughts on “Three New Monstrosities”

  1. its happening to Martin at the present time. Swear words aren,t enough – we need some sort of power – but what

  2. I think publishing names of psychiatrists profitting would be a good start.
    Our country has ‘scroungers’ of different types, and those psychiatrists with stakes in any facility should declare their interests.
    They’re not in any way ‘independent’ opinions.
    We only need those who will do an honest day’s work.

  3. To enter this supply chain – the highly profitable ‘product’ must first be prepared for the market:

    1. First hire sans conscience or poorly and or not trained at all assessor – review and remove all useful support from son/daughter/family ?

    2. Son daughter with learning disability and or autism hits 18 – leaves school etc and behaviour is changed dramatically – family naively and trustingly seeks help from LA..

    2.a Son daughter goes straight to prison. Without hope of parole.

    2.b Family buy a road map for Great Britain..

    3. Some one else’s son or daughter, isolated from family living in ‘supported living’ accommodation..LA apply 1.

    3 a. Now no access or support for health care, or much anything else kind of support, funded by LA.

    3.b Or no mum or dad to challenge 1.(just some one else’s son daughter) gets very sick very quickly – and or very sad. Seen by a LA funded psychiatrist….goes straight to jail..with no parole..

    3.c Has mum and or dad..mum and or dad get old, and or get sick, from filling in all support and fighting many crises – accessing legal help..etc etc. and from being bullied by LA.

    3.d Mum dad get very sick and or old and die ….from stress and or grief…etc…etc

    3 e.LA step in…..

    4. Son daughter goes straight to prison, does/did not pass any scrutiny or meet any one with compassion etc etc, on route. No parole.

    Care managers and LA commissioners who do 1,2,3 and 4… shame on you.

    Chain completed – Ka -ching.

  4. If you dared to name the psychiatrist you would then be excluded from all processes, contact with your son and daughter stopped, a penal notice put on you and you might well go to prison too.

    1. I don’t think so.
      Some business information is public information.
      Psychiatrists have to declare business interests in certain roles. In my work, they do have to.

      Nothing can happen quite like that, as there are legal processes.

      1. Also, Shirley, the good psychiatrists must be cringing at what their rotten apple peers are up to.
        You’re right that innocent parents don’t just name people and become victims themselves, but there are ways.
        Fear isn’t the way. Knowledge is.
        They are ordinary people.

        At regular work meetings I go to, each of us declares our business interests at the start. I don’t have any, but each person (including psychiatrist) lists every new business detail, even the smallest most trivial.

        There are NHS ethics committees all over the land, who look at new research projects, so I don’t know why there’s this huge loophole in this niche area Mark exposes – we must bang a drum and all expose this new concern.
        It’s common that psychopaths exist in the army and police force (plus a lot of good people work with them), but it seems that corrupt psychiatrists are psychopathic (though they love labelling others) – there’s little they do to be called doctors.

      2. This is the Mental Capacity Act which is not fit for purpose. Read Finola Moss’s blogs

    2. Shirley, about your MCA comment. I read Finola’s comments, which are very useful.
      But I also believe the MCA isn’t followed properly, isn’t understood or is twisted to suit others’ purposes, and is being looked at for review.

    3. I think this is where you sometimes shoot yourself in the foot Shirley. This post and the comments don’t really have anything to do with the MCA. If anything, they’re more about the Mental Health Act.

      1. If you can tell me the line between the MCA and the MHA I would be very grateful. Mr Justice Charles in his judgment of October 2007 (in the public domain) spent pages trying to ecide which was applicable, and came to no solution. Paul Bowen was also involved. I probably shoot myself in the foot frequently, but it still functions well, in spite of my 82 years of age

  5. Mark can I use your blog to inform all that on 4th August 10.30 am Cardiff Civil Centre there will be a Court of Protection hearing with regard to MB and a S49 reports (pilot) This should come under the transparency project and be in open court. If you know of any journalists who are interested please let them know. MB has been in the CoP since 2006, and deprived of his liberty since 2008.

  6. This makes my blood boil. Profit prioritised over people again and again and again, unless it’s the people who are pocketing said profit, of course.
    Thanks for your post, Mark.

  7. These units are going to be actual disabled people’s prison cells in a hospital like setting. It’ll cause misery to many who find themselves trapped in those units and to their families trying to get their loved one’s out. Many will never get them out. I’ve seen that first hand myself. All that arrived at the NHS run hospital that my son was held on and I was the only one to get my son released 17 months later. Says a lot doesn’t it. Not surprised to see the shrink involved in Stevens case is ‘on their books’ and a typical case of a ‘low-life skunk’ continuing to profit at ‘misery a plenty’ for those detained and their families. I think the cost of a stay there would come closer to 15,000 a week as it cost 7,000 in 2006 for my son’s unnecessary 17-month stay. Makes me…sorry… vomit.

    1. and the sad thing is most of those 133 beds are already earmarked even before they are built to punish families of young adults with autism & learning disabilities who have had to fight tooth and nail with services who have never responded or helped for decades. They also use all ‘tools’ to set it up, such as incorrect medication, normally anti-psychotics. Until people stand up and group together nothing will change and it will continue. Many talk about the injustice, the power, the wrong. These dirty profiting and overpaid ‘woodlice’ who look to profiting at disabled people’s expense are not powerful they can only use ‘the power’ if you allow it. The more that expose the activities of the ‘lice’ like these, the better in my opinion.

      1. Oh and 1 more thing… Cygnet if you are looking in..You’d do better converting those ATU plans into respite units instead. You’d make as much cash if that’s the objective. By changing your plans just very slightly you could be a precious resource to the field of people you are looking to assist. Think about it and turn that corner for the future for everyone 🙂

      2. Thank you, Charm, it is perception of power.
        These powerful people are ordinary, often coming from similar families to ours. They have no real expertise, except for a few qualifications they acquired. It can be exposed.
        People in situations we experienced, reading these blogs, will understand a lot more than we did, when we were naive. They will be prepared.

        Then can ask: Where is the therapy?
        They can demand it.
        They can demand to know why any medication is used, or details of side effects – they are steps ahead of us.

        I know all the people who pretended to be experts. It is the best job in the world – to be helping and defending those in distress. Those experts and ourselves should have been, and should be working together with mutual respect.

  8. What I find so despairingly sad is that people are going into these places purely to be medicated to make them compliant. Medication that will make them so zombified that they no longer resemble the people they used to be. These places should be finding out what is causing the bad behaviour, not knock them out so they feel nothing, do nothing but just exist.

    I looked on the Challenging Behaviour Foundation website and saw a report from STOMP (stopping the over medication of people with LD, autism or both) I downloaded the full report written from a family carers perspective. I recognised many of the side effects these people’s loved ones were suffering, but the most telling statement was from a mother who said that every incident of challenging behaviour is really a need unmet. So true.

    Psychiatrists who profit from incarcerating people into these hell holes should be struck off. They feel no shame and they are not worried because there is no chance in hell that anyone will do anything to stop it because cronyism and a masonic type culture in the NHS will protect them from ever being punished.

    Years ago when they were looking for a cure for childhood polio, they gave the new untested vaccine to children in a home for the mentally retarded This was in America. The land of the free. Free for some. Now there are American Health companies blatantly profiteering from the misery that they are inflicting on our loved ones. A trade so cruel that it beggars belief that countless British politicians are allowing it to continue. They are not listening and perhaps they never will.

    1. Yes, it’s often unmet need, not bad behaviour.
      Criminals or other mindsets may be ‘bad’, and I don’t want to go into that, but my experience is something else entirely.
      Every behaviour is a communication. I can’t imagine living in a world that makes no sense, where no one tries to connect with you (except those who love you, and a few good people), or imagine being in a world with no opportunities, no hope, no sense of being part of it.
      We exist to interact.

      If no one or nothing interacts with us, we will have to use that energy somehow. Communication can be explosive. We must be able to let off steam, and if we can’t escape we have to fight.
      It’s possible for us all to learn from each other.
      We all came into the world – it belongs to all of us equally – no one is subject to any other person.

      The terrorising of families and vulnerable people has to end.

  9. These Cash rich funders of pain and purveyors of vulnerable people are very powerful, and will have very powerful etc friends ?

    Friends with much less clout than LA’s ? While intimidation from LA’s can be very real.

    LA’s have total power over our sons and daughters, and of us parents – and can start applying it as as soon as we have to seek their help.

    I have been terrified of same for years, but I have kept on challenging and I have failed to protect my son from damage.

    Pale comments, on removal of essential support and or dangerous care, – far less complaints, can be treated by LA as aggression. Parents who don’t give up can be called ‘aggressive’ advocates…and treated as such.

    While, LA complaints processes are in fact only gate keepers for the organisation..and while the LA hold that soft club trump card – ‘dont upset us or……’ and then the big biggy – ..’if you don’t go away we will make you go to Ombudsman (or get a lawyer) and you will just waste even more years.. for no useful outcome,,,for we can ignore all their findings no matter how serious our failings’,….

    …….we families will continue to shout into an empty room…or worse – and they can do what ever they choose…and go one hurting our boy and or our girl…….till we die.

    Be afraid …?

    1. Weary mother, I totally respect, as you’ve also worked in these organisations.
      But I’ve a mixed experience, both good and bad, as sometimes some staff in LAs did act properly.

      The dynamics do change from time to time, and we must still challenge when things aren’t acceptable. And maybe be more creative about how we do it.
      Your being terrified reminds me of courage, to go onto the battlefield even when we’re frightened, that’s real courage.
      So be terrified, and do what you have to do anyway.

  10. I also have concerns about the IMHA arrangements at some of these settings. Cygnet, for example, appear to contract their own advocacy service as far as I can tell – in my area they do not use the provider commissioned to go into the NHS hospitals.
    Their advocacy service aims to ” provide a non-adversarial approach. We believe an adversarial approach can be detrimental to the therapeutic alliances, which service users and service providers have developed. Advent Advocacy strongly believes this way of advocating will not compromise our ability to represent our service users. We offer an equitable service that is without judgment or prejudice and this enables the service user to continue to work with the care team, thus facilitating independence, self-advocacy and cohesiveness in a safe environment.”
    Personally I’m of the opinion that an adversarial approach is exactly what you need when no-one is taking the blindest bit of notice of you.

    1. IMCAs are the same, they are paid for by government money and it is the government, in fact now 3 successive ones, that have set up this money making system via first the MCA and then MHA 07 including the LD/ASD as mental disorders and setting up the IMHA system.

      In any event, IMCAs and IMHAs can only advise the ‘incapacitated’ or MHA sectioned on what will be happening to them and their right of appeal.

      If, as it appears from the statistics of increased detainment under MHA and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards under MCA, the COP and appeals systems, are effectively rubber stampers of the LA/NHS, who are effectively paid by the private providers, there is little anyone can do and the. HRA is being ignored.

      As is the huge conflict of interests of all being employed directly or indirectly by those who profit from a persons detainment in hospital/care home.

  11. It is clear this is not about ending in patient admission for the autistic/LD, but increasing it, but using only the private monopoly hospitals.

    As £13,000 per week is paid out of public NHS money.

    And let us remind ourselves of the horrific treatment and death that resulted for these huge sums of public money.

    And the fact that Cygnet is now owned by US Universal Health Services, whose one time executive was Simon Stevens head of NHS England.

    And finally comments on its service.

    So no accountability, enforced services, constant increasing consumers and government income equals perfect business model.

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