23 Years On From Bournwood

Yesterday, Radio 4 broadcast a play about the Bournwood case, the case that led to the introduction of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. It was beautifully written and the performances of the key players felt totally authentic.

A link to the play is here and the drama is followed by a studio discussion of the case which included Mr E and H’s solicitor:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b092fbr0

I’ve seen a small handful of criticism online from people who felt that some of the professionals portrayed were unrealistic. For me, those scenes absolutely rang true and contained some of the greatest horror within the drama.

One particular scene graphically summed up the terrifying imbalance between the professionals and the family. It showed in the starkest of terms, how HL had been turned into an object and how the family’s years of experience counted for nothing. The scene involved Mrs E being taught how to support H getting undressed and ready for bed. This had never been a problem at home but to validate the “treatment” it was imposed on HL and Mrs E in the most brutal way. Obsessed with behaviour management programmes, an OT led Mrs E through a script that she was ordered to follow. The growing desperation in Mrs E’s voice as she realised the futility of this game but afraid of the consequences of challenging it, was deeply moving.

I cried because the scene hurled me back to 2010 and although 16 years on from Bournwood, I was put through the same indignity. I was called in twice, once at 7am and then the next day at 6pm to be taught how to support Steven with his bathtime routine. No matter that I’d been doing it for 19 years with no problems, the positive behaviour show was in full swing. I sat on the toilet as a shift leader taught me how to rinse Steven’s hair after shampoo and then I had to demonstrate what I’d learned as she marked me on an “parental observation chart”. I had to bite my lip hard to stop myself crying or shouting. It was abject humiliation.

At the same time, another element of the “treatment programme” was speech therapy and I had to be retrained in how to talk to Steven. I was given several laminated guide cards with instructions for me on. I’ve still got them in a box in my garage: “Never use more than 3 words in a sentence”. “Stretch each vowel out like a piece of plasticine”. I had the shaming experience of being observed and marked whilst supporting Steven make a toasted cheeeeeese sandwich. All the time having to deal with Steven’s bewilderment that I was talking so peculiarly. “Dad’s doing silly talking”.

The family is done up like a kipper. The outcome of Mrs E’s shaming was to add more and she was labelled “uncooperative”. The same with me. In their report for court, Hillingdon wrote: “we do not believe that Mr Neary will follow behaviour management guidelines”. The same stunt that was pulled on Mrs E in 1994, was used on me in 2010, was used on Sara Ryan in 2013 and is still being used on families today. First the family is labelled “uncooperative”. That moves on to “abusive”. And then questions are raised about your mental stability. It’s a standard template that gets more and more terrifying as you move through each phase of the accusations. Because it all means that a case is being built for your child never to be returned home. I wrote in my diary one day, “Steven may end up in a long term hospital because I talk to him in more than three words”.

One thing that bothered me with the play, especially from the assertion of the presenter was that things have changed dramatically since 1994. The drama covered the horror of H’s feet turning black because the staff used to stand on them as a form of restraint. That hasn’t changed. Just a couple of years ago, Jamie Newcombe’s arm was broken whilst he was being restrained.

Nothing has changed much. It’s true, since 1994, we now have two chunky pieces of legislation that are meant to prevent further Bournwoods. The Mental Capacity Act and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards were introduced but as the 7 Days of Action campaign revealed, they don’t even touch the majority of the 3000+ people currently detained. Just this month, we heard at the GMC Hearing into Dr Murphy (Connor Sparrowhawk’s psychiatrist) that she believed she was above the MCA and therefore, Connor’s rights were trampled on.

Precious little has changed. What happened to Harry still happens 23 years on. The complete randomness of admission. The total power of the responsible clinician. The absolute belief of the responsible clinician in their rightness. The blocking out of families for weeks whilst the institutionalisation takes place. The introduction of dangerous medication regimes from day one. The hostility towards families and the attempts to crush them. The ignoring or abuse of the law.

Mr and Mrs E are inspirational People. Driven by love and duty, they saved H’s life and fought for over 15 years to get the law changed to protect H and others like him in the future. Their ordinariness and humanity continues to expose the ludicrousness of the “State knows best” attitude that is so prevalent in so many of our services.

Mr and Mrs E – thank you for helping me and Steven. For being our friends. For making us laugh like drains at the hideousness of the system. For showing us that love can win through in the end.

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Taking My Cue From Two Stevens.

I’ve had a weekend of learning from two Stevens (although one of them is spelt with a “ph”).

Up until now, I believed I only had one thing in common with Professor Stephen Hawking. It’s a little known but well established fact that Hawking and I are the only two people in the UK who choose Wig Wam Bam as our karaoke song.

The last few days, Professor Hawking has been involved in a very public disagreement with Jeremy Hunt over the privatisation of the NHS. Throughout it, Hawking has maintained a quiet dignity whilst Hunt has behaved like a five year old, caught with his hand in the biscuit tin. He has tried to slap Hawking down but the Professor, confident in his position, hasn’t risen to the bait.

I was slapped down the other week, if not by Hunt, but by the Department of Health. I’d been invited to be interviewed by You and Yours and spoke about the privatisation of learning disability inpatient services. After my bit, the presenter read out a statement by the DoH which started with the slap down that I was wrong before reeling off a stream of statistics that had no bearing on anything I had said.

The interview is here, from about 15 minutes in:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b090vd4h

Ego pricked, I was cross at the public put down but watching Hawking’s behaviour reminded me that if you retain your position with humility and confidence, you achieve a lot more than rising to the bait.

That leads me to the second lesson, this time learned from Steven. I’ve written before recently that the only downside to him coming off the risperidone is that he is still struggling to cope with the speeding up of his brain functioning. The medication definitely slowed everything down and it is quite painful watching him trying to find the right words as his brain gallops at a speed he’s not been used to for over ten years.

Uncle Wayne popped in on Sunday morning to mend the broken bedroom door (don’t ask). As he was saying his goodbyes, Steven was trying to say something to him. Hands over ears, looking down at the floor and audibly running through his hard drive, Steven was stuck. I could see Wayne was keen to get off for his Sunday roast and I tried to silently convey the message to him to hold on until Steven found the right words. Eventually, after more than five minutes of mental agony, they came:

“Uncle Wayne – Shaggy sings Mr Bombastic”.

Wayne repeated it back to him. Steven gave his most satisfied chuckle and normal business was resumed.

Where’s the lesson for me in all this? We’ll, a similar thing happens to my brain after an excess of online activity. An hour on social media and my thoughts become disorderly. The ending of 7 Days of Action and all the attacks we received frazzled my brain. Drawn to the attacks like a moth to a flame, I became obsessive and incoherent. Unfortunately, my instinctive response was to be more Jeremy Hunt than Stephen Hawking.

It’s so easy to consume your head space with shit. Well, it is for me. Sunday evening I disappeared down a wormhole watching clips from that 1980s comedy series set in an old peoples’ home, starring Peggy Mount and Pat Coombs. It was a minor nostalgic diversion but an hour or so later when I resurfaced, my head was mangled.

So for now, I’m rationing. As Steven learns how to manage more whizzier brain activity, I’ve got to manage the void better. I don’t need a ruck on Facebook to fill the void.

Thank you Stephen and Steven.

The Maths Exam

Yesterday, I saw an advert announcing a joint venture between Stay Up Late and Mencap to promote Gig Buddies. This timely announcement throws the spotlight once again on the lives lived by learning disabled people after 6pm.

For any mathematical experts out there, I’ve set a little exam that tackles probability theory at evening times in supported living environments.

You have 10 minutes to complete the test.

Your time starts.

NOW.

Background:

On Monday, three new residents, Bjorn, Benny and Sven will be moving into their own studio flats in part of a supported living unit. Their arrival takes the total number of residents to 7.

Bjorn & Benny are assessed as needing 2:1 support when they go out. Sven needs 1:1 support.

The LA’s procedure is to pool all the personal budgets of each residents.

The staff rotas in the unit are:

Weekdays (9am to 9pm) 3 staff for 7 residents.

Weekends (9am to 9pm) 2 staff for 7 residents.

Night Shifts (9pm to 9am) 1 waking staff & 1 sleep in staff.

For the past 15 years, Benny has followed his local non league football team and hasn’t missed a home game in that time. The club play their home matches on Saturday afternoons and Tuesday evenings.

Bjorn plays for his pub’s darts team. They meet up to practice on Tuesday evenings and play in a local league on Thursday evenings.

Sven has a girlfriend. They like to meet up twice a week. On Mondays they go to bingo and after, Sven sleeps over at his girlfriend’s house. On Thursdays they go to the cinema. Sven would like to invite his girlfriend to sleep over at his flat after the movie.

QUESTION:

1. Will Bjorn, Benny and Sven be able to continue their favoured evening activities?

2. Explain how this will be facilitated.

3. How often will they be able to partake in their favourite activities?

 

Holding Out For A Hero

I had a short Twitter conversation last night with Ermintrude. She had written an excellent piece about her unease of the framing of a social worker as a “hero”. She rightly pointed out that the title infers sacrifice and other noble qualities, which in truth, are really just a social worker doing the job they’re paid for.

We all need another hero, so this type of narrative is endemic across many different fields. It’s not new – the nurse has often been portrayed as an angel. But the modern trend demands more powerful adjectives to describe us going about our business. It’s like our lives are scripted by a Marvel comic. And it reduces our humanity into the crudest terms of heroes vs villians; the powerful and the weak.

My great friend Shelley, who sadly died last year, wrote a brilliant blog about her experiences with cancer. She eschewed the usual war-like vocabulary associated with cancer, battling, fighting, and called her blog “Tangling With Cancer”. It cut through the heroic narrative and presented something far more messy.

The Marvel language is there standing tall in the carer world. Every yawning article written during National Carers Week will rely on the contradictory images of the “beleaguered” carer and the “heroic” carer. If, as a carer, you buy into those images, it becomes a serious headmelt. She spend your whole life fluctuating between Clark Kent and Superman. The reality is that a carer is both and neither and many other less flattering things too.

The powerful and weak polarity is regularly played out in the presentation of families of learning disabled people. Nobody gives themselves the title of “victim” but it is commonplace to see a parent get up to all sorts because they’ve classified themselves as “broken”. And it unconsciously sets up a brutal competition as to who is the most broken victim. The opposite can be even more dodgy – the self proclaimed “warrior”. It’s a title nobody in their right mind should ever claim, not least because it sets yourself up for an almighty fall. But if I’m tangling with the messiness of being a carer and you’re a warrior carer, it sets up an unhelpful and unhealthy comparative.

Mark Brown wrote an interesting blog yesterday where amongst other things he touched upon what may have been his “unpure motives” for being part of the 7 Days of Action campaign. It was a coincidence, because since the campaign ended on Monday, I’ve been lying on my psychiatrist’s couch, making copious notes about my unpure motives. It’s been uncomfortable but necessary because as another good friend often reminds me: “we should always keep an eye on that part of ourselves that is up to no good”. It doesn’t mean that all the good things we do are voided. It doesn’t mean I am “two faced”. It just means that I am human and alongside my ultraistic motives, there is probably also something less attractive, less heroic at play.

My unpure motive in relation to the campaign can probably come under the heading “vanity”. A regular stroke of my ego. I noticed something from the very start of the first campaign. As the original mums sent me their stories for me to write about, I did experience an emotional, empathic response to the sadness and injustice of the stories. But that feeling lasted about five minutes. Very quickly, I became detached and saw my opportunity to stretch my writing muscles. What was the hook for each story? How can I frame this to gain maximum impact? I found that part of my job very exciting but should I be feeling excitement out of other people’s misery? I remember, during the 3rd campaign, becoming totally immersed in uncovering an unethical responsible clinician. Once again, my investigation felt very exciting and I was less bothered about the poor sod who had fallen foul of the unethical psychiatrist. Basically, the campaign allowed me to act out my Marvel fantasy – Great journalist. SuperWriter. I’m not flailing myself alive here – I did a lot of bloody good work for the campaign, all stemming from a good place in me. And the campaign facilitated my inner Clark Kent to have his ego massaged regularly.

None of this is criticism of myself or others. Most of the time, we’re just acting  a out our unconscious. The hero social worker does many good things in their work but needs to keep an eye on that part of themselves that is attracted to the power their professional role allows them. We all like power. We all have an internal Mussolini. One unconscious move can shift the professional from hero to villian with disastrous consequences.

And the heroic, warrior parent? Most of the time, we’re just doing what it says in the parent’s job description. If your kid is in trouble, you help them out. It’s not about jumping into the Batmobile. It’s about love and duty. Nothing more. Nothing sexier than that. Succeeding and failing.

(But keep an eye out for our inner Batman).

KEPOW!

 

Ermintrude’s blog is here:

View at Medium.com

Mark’s blog is here:

https://thetiredoptimist.wordpress.com/2017/08/23/goodnight/amp/

Odd Species

Imagine a diagram in the shape of a column. The column has about 20 sections, rated from “least important” at the bottom of the column, going upwards in ranks of importance to the top of the column. The title of this diagram is “People who know best in the lives of learning disabled people”. There is little doubt, that at the bottom of the column, representing the least important would be the learning disabled person themselves. In 19th place, and only narrowly above the learning disabled person is their family. In the 18 rising positions above would be a whole range of “stakeholders”: social workers, psychiatrists, advocates, providers, commissioners, therapists, on and on.

Other people likely to appear above the person and their family are some unlikely stakeholders. In fact, they’re not stakeholders at all but their perspective is considered more valuable than the people whose lives are being examined. When Steven was detained, the positive behaviour manager (position 5) carried out risk assessments of all the places Steven went to. No problem with the manager of Virgin Active. No problem with Steven’s personal trainer at Flex gym. Big problem with the person who runs the Mencap Pool. I saw the report. The pool supervisor’s input was “unreliable” because the pool was “organised and run by fellow families”. Same thing last year when Steven was investigated for an ASBO a month after moving into his new flat. The neighbour’s evidence was more valuable than mine.

All day today I’ve been thinking about the ending of the 7 Days of Action campaign. One constant criticism of the campaign from day one was that it was family led. I lost count of the number of times I found myself defending the fact it was family led. And then started to feel resentful that I was being apologetic. Often the criticism came from other disability campaigners which inevitably leads us into tense territory. “Why aren’t the people that the campaign is about leading the campaign?” was a question frequently posed. The responsible clinician in Eden Norris’s unit has refused Eden permission to attend his grandmother’s funeral; you try asking him to allow Eden some leave to record a BBC interview. Steven couldn’t have run an online campaign when he was in the ATU – residents weren’t allowed access to a computer. But this shows the shifting sands a learning disabled person and their family have to deal with daily – most of the time their experience/opinion is irrelevant. But on other occasions they become objects of suspicion.

The findings at Dr Murphy’s GMC hearing show how fatally dangerous the tendency to keep families at the least important end of the column is. The Panel’s decision shows how ludicrously all bases are covered. Sara Ryan’s daily blog was seen as unreliable. It was described as “a perspective”. A perspective, in itself isn’t too bad until you compare the weight given to the evidence Dr Murphy relied upon that she kept “in my head”. Years of experience dismissed as “a perspective” and yet we can rely on the judgment of a clinician who prescribed a major anti psychotic before even meeting her patient.

One afternoon in 2010, Steven’s social worker asked me to meet her in Costas. It started awkwardly but then I found myself relaxing. She started asking me about my work, admitting that she would love to do some counselling training and she seemed genuinely interested. To paraphrase Shirley Valentine: “I used to just be the father. I used to just be the overly involved advocate. Now I’m Mark Valentine again”. As I arrived back at the table with a second round of cappachinos the mood changed. She wanted to talk about my complaint about the shift leader who had kicked Steven and thrown a cup of coffee over him. The chasm reappeared. Steven’s story of the assault was “difficult to make sense of”. I wasn’t there when it happened so my complaint was based solely on Steven’s “unreliable story”. The shift leader denied everything. Bearing in mind, the shift leader was about number 11 on the column, guess what the outcome of the complaint was?

This won’t change. The sheer force of the 18 stakeholders above the learning disabled person and their family means the status quo is maintained. Even if a couple of them stand aside in a person centred sideways move, the person and family remain heavily outnumbered.

We’re a different species.

There must be a positive behaviour manager with a learning disabled son somewhere. How do they cope with being number three on the importance scale when they’re assessing my son, before plunging to number nineteen when their own son is being assessed by another positive behaviour manager?

If you doubt my assertion that it’ll be hard to change this mindset, here’s a little story to end on. I’ve been invited to take part in a research project in January as an “expert by experience”. The project is being led by a pretty progressive organisation. I did a little bit of checking and it looks like I’ll be the only person sitting round the table providing my expertise for free.

The title of the project: “The Importance of Including Families”.

The Bitterest Pill

One of the many scandals from last week’s GMC evidence was the admission that Dr Murphy prescribed risperidone to Connor before actually meeting him. This ain’t no Lemsip: this is one of the big boys of the psychotropic arsenal. But, as she explained, she had her pet theory about young autistic men, and when you herd a whole group of your patients into your pet theory cage, you can probably convince yourself that one pill is necessary, regardless of whether you’ve examined them or not.

Inevitably, this shameful disclosure took me back to the time Steven was first prescribed risperidone and my shame in letting it happen. Dr Murphy would have been rubbing her hands in glee because Steven was behaving in ways that fitted right into her favourite theory.

It was nearly 10 years ago. We’d been having problems getting Steven to go to school, ever since school returned that September. Come November, he wasn’t going at all. His routines were all over the place and we were reeling from the level of aggression we were facing. Nobody in health or social care would help and one Friday afternoon after the duty social worker told me the only thing we could do was to phone the police, Steven and I found ourselves sitting in the back of a police van being whisked off to the local mental health unit. He was kept there overnight, with me sleeping on the floor and the duty psychiatrist gave him a knock out dose of risperidone. She admitted it was the wrong place for him and he was discharged the following morning. Back home we both went to bed but I was rudely awakened mid afternoon by Steven hurling the alarm clock at my head. Later that day, two doctors arrived and after a 15 minute visit, Steven was given a prescription for more risperidone. And that was that for the next nine years.

The immediate impact was startling. The violence stopped and Steven took to his bed for the next six weeks, only emerging downstairs to make himself a drink. Even on Christmas Day 2007, he got up to open his presents but immediately returned to bed. My big memory was that he had an almost permanent, babyish smile. I didn’t see it for what it was – someone drugged to high heaven. And to my shame, there was a short sense of relief. After weeks of chaos and fear, I felt able to breathe again.

In February, the truth came out. As Steven wasn’t yet 18, he hadn’t been allocated a psychiatrist. (I never understood that. Until 16, you get a paediatrician. Then at 18, you get a psychiatrist. You’re not mentally ill; you just have a learning disability. It’s not surprising the psychiatrist is going to view you through a psychotic lens – that is their training). But a multi disciplinary team had kicked in and we assembled at the Civic Centre to “see where we are”. Someone asked Steven why he had been so out of sorts, to which he replied:

“Steven Neary doesn’t want to go to school anymore. Steven Neary is a man now”.

Bang! It was all there. I stupidly said to the social worker (This was the early days of our encounter with Whistler’s Mother) that we are dealing with a developmental crisis with heavy duty psychotropic medication. That was the start of me being labelled a “resistant parent”, a label I was still fighting in court two years later.

The truth is I colluded. The weight was piling on. Steven was now back out of bed and trying to create a new, post school life. His autism hadn’t gone away, so Holby City going off air whilst the Olympics were on, still produced a severe meltdown. A trip to HMV still triggered a massive sensory overload. But the edge had been taken off. And naively, that felt at the time like a small mercy.

Fast forward to 2014. During his time in the ATU, the risperidone had been increased dramatically. For containment. To enable their staff rotas to be low and cheap. Over the seven years on the drug, Steven had gained 17 stone in weight. In January 2014, he was in agony. He was in excruciating pain every time he sat down. He’d eat his tea standing up. He couldn’t bear to sit down in the car, so trips out were curtailed. He’d scream, sitting on the toilet to have a shit. We eventually discovered after going to a private clinic that his liver was failing as a result of the medication induced weight gain. But for four weeks, we were boomeranged between the GP and A&E, with neither of them that bothered. I’d been saying since the court hearing 5 years earlier that the tablets were killing Steven but I was a resistant parent and dismissed with another dietician referral. One morning in A&E, we’d been waiting nearly two hours. We hadn’t yet seen a doctor. Steven wasn’t being aggressive but was very noisy because of the pain. A nurse appeared and gave Steven a pill.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“It’s a PRN risperidone” she replied.

One of the support workers said it looked like I’d been head butted by a buffalo. I fell into a chair. We were there because Steven was being killed by a pharmaceutical and they give him more of the same to shut him up. No examination. No history taking. No conversation with Steven, me or the support workers. It was simple. Steven is learning disabled and this is how we treat learning disabled people.

A nice postscript to this story. At the weekend, one of the support workers suggested we have a day trip to the coast. I thought it was a good idea but knew that with Steven’s recent aversion to holidays (“Holidays are too busy”), we’d have to plan it carefully. Later, I was on Facebook and saw a post from Steven’s old personal trainer who now lives in Brighton. For four years, Adam put Steven through his paces, trying in vain to shift the weight caused by the risperidone. It was a fruitless task. The weight wouldn’t come off until the tablets stopped. But I thought it would be a good idea to combine a day trip to Brighton with meeting up with Adam again. I’m sure Adam will be impressed with the new, slimmer Steven and Steven can truthfully tell Adam their old catchphrase: “I’m massive fitter Adam”.

Steven is massive fitter. He can dance for longer. He can swim further. He’s been able to turn things around when most of the health and social care world were prepared to see him die. For a quiet life.

Steven took his last risperidone in June 2016. Even after the liver problem was diagnosed, the drugs are so powerful, it took two years to wean him off them. I’ve reflected a lot about “Steven Neary – the medication years” since last June. There were no benefits for Steven. Any benefits were for other people. A dowsed Steven made other people’s lives easier.

And guess what? A year after the last pill – Steven is still autistic.

Too Insignificant For The Law

Distressing. Harrowing. Fucking Shameful. There aren’t any words powerful enough to describe the experience of following George Julian’s brilliant live tweeting of the GMC hearing into Dr Valerie Murphy, the responsible clinician in charge of Connor Sparrowhawk’s care at STATT. (Responsible and Care being totally inappropriate to the evidence unfolding in Manchester). The hearing is scheduled for two weeks and I strongly suggest anyone interested in learning disability care, take a look at George’s forensic reporting @JusticeforLBGMC.

On Tuesday, Sara was called to give evidence for no other reason than for Dr M’s brief to attack her. Her evidence wasn’t needed. Her presence was an opportunity to prolong Sara’s pain. Sara has written about the day in the most moving and important blog post for many a long time.

https://mydaftlife.com/2017/08/10/writing-trauma/amp/

There is so much that could be written about the hearing. To be honest, the tweets are so relentlessly shocking, I’ve long since lost the ability to differentiate.

We’ve heard about Death by Indifference. We know that learning disabled people are seen as not quite human. But seeing it revealed in rolling black and white is deeply distressing. It’s not unusual for patients NOT to be clerked in on admission. It’s not common for families to be included in anything – history gathering; best interests; concerns. All this came from the horses mouth.

One thing that has repeatedly made my blood boil and the tears flow has been the total contempt for the law. Every now and then, Dr Murphy has been questioned about the Mental Capacity Act and her responses consistently show that she didn’t give a hoot for a piece of legislation that was introduced to protect the most vulnerable people. If she had followed the law, Connor may not have died.

There were lots of disjointed discussions about the Mental Capacity assessment. Dr Murphy’s evidence is such a shambles, I feel confident in saying that she probably didn’t carry out a capacity assessment. From the start, she assumed, even if it occurred to her at all, that Connor lacked capacity. For everything. Capacity to consent to medication? Capacity to agree to admission? A blanket decision based on contempt for her patients.

Let’s remind ourselves that the first principle of the five principles of the Mental Capacity Act states: “A person must be assumed to have capacity unless it is established otherwise”. Dr Murphy wouldn’t give her patients that respect, that legal right. From that dismissive starting position, Dr M blocked the next two principles, namely, the person must be supported in making a decision, and that people must be allowed to make unwise decisions. When your patient’s rights are so irrelevant, principles two and three don’t even appear on the radar.

The fourth principle is almost laughable to Dr M. This is the one about best interests and in the egocentric world of Dr M, only she has the expertise to make a best interests decision. Sod the collaborative process. Sod the lifelong experience of the patient’s family. But the evidence of the hearing reveals something even worse. It doesn’t look as if Dr M made a best interests decision. Or, she put the cart before the horse, and made a best interests decision and then contrived/ignored a capacity assessment to justify it.

I would stick my neck out and say that the evidence revealed today shows that she broke the law as far as the Mental Capacity Act goes. On several counts.

This doesn’t surprise me too much. A couple of years ago I did a public speaking gig at a mental health conference. My brief was to describe how in 2010, the MCA had been abused in Steven’s case but ultimately saved him. The conference room had 6 large round tables on one side of the room and the same number on the other side, with a walkway through the middle. As the room filled up, all the Psychiatrists and senior clinicians assembled on the left bank and the AMHPs, the BIAs and the ward staff sat on the right. It was the worst, scariest gig I’ve ever done. Some of the psychiatrists sat with their backs to me for the whole hour I spoke. They talked loudly amongst themselves. As I was describing Steven’s mental capacity assessment, two of them got up and went to the tea urn at the back of the room. At the break, nobody spoke to me. My spirit was around my ankles. I went out for a fag and one of the AMHPs joined me. He apologized and said their response had been quite common. There was no interest in the Mental Capacity Act at all because it’s fundamental principles were so far removed from the psychiatrists belief system.

All this shone like a rancid turd during Dr M’s evidence. At one point, she even came out with the old chestnut – the Mental Health Act trump’s the Mental Capacity Act. That is code for, “bollocks to the law. I know best”.

It’s called the Mental Capacity Act 2005. It’s now 2017. Yet you still hear deluded, self important professionals say, “we’re still bedding it in”. It’s scandalous. For the Dr Murphy’s of this world, there is no intention of bedding it in. Their patients don’t deserve that right.

One final piece of phlegm from the hearing. Shortly after Connor’s death, Dr Murphy returned to Ireland. She has her own practice and does some lecturing at UCC. In April this year, Dr Murphy delivered a presentation on the Mental Capacity Act for the students.

Click on the sixth link for the slides Dr M used –

https://www.ucc.ie/en/search/?q=Mental+capacity+act&searchFilter=website

The second slide states: “Preserve the dignity of the patient”.

Connor died.