Thursday, 21 February 2008

Last Post Confusion

Those of you who use a reader to view my blog may have received a post entitled "Blogging: Last Post" only to receive another post later the same day.

I have NOT stopped blogging yet. I have come very close and I have had my last post sitting already written for a few weeks. Most days I read and tweak the post and think about publishing it but so far I have resisted . A few days ago I published the post in error and very quickly deleted it but the post may have reached your reader.

Apologies for any confusion.

More apologies if I have now dashed your happiness at my blog death which wasn't.

I'm sure sometime soon I'll do this for real - kill the blog, that is - but for the moment I am blogging ....just.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Carr Family: Update

Recently I have found blogging increasingly hard and I have written my "Last Post". Many times I have tried to publish it but been unable and, given that, I think it's worthwhile posting an extract which explains my blogging difficulties.

The problems we face go much further than I have mentioned and I will need whatever strength I have to get through a period of massive, intensely stressful and upsetting upheaval. The last year or so has been very difficult but the period to come will be much worse. Just getting through will be a triumph.

Mrs C and I are to split: a decision which, given the state of our "marriage", could have happened at any time in the last 10 years but a decision, all the same, which I have feared and dreaded. I have to accept the inevitable and so everything will be done amicably but with an incredibly heavy heart. My commitment to continue caring for Mrs C is undiminished: one can't turn off love as though it were a tap.

Unfortunately, as happens so often in these circumstances, the family home will be sold - at some stage - and two small homes bought.
The kids will stay with me - in the short term at least - until Mrs C is on the way to recovery.

Finances dictate that I will need to return to work on a part-time basis - should be full-time but parenting will prevent this - but, given my age and the years since I took early retirement, I can't expect anything other than a low-paid Tesco type job.
I guess being a beggar does restrict choice. Any genuine offers will be considered!

I don't know if I'll ever be able to return to proper blogging. Last night, I had intended to post another "Childhood Reminiscences" but I just couldn't be bothered. Instead, I read and re-read and tweaked my "Last Post" but couldn't press the button.

I know, by posting this, I'm being self-indulgent and looking for sympathy but I can't help it. This is where I am. In fact, it's not where I am: I am much more down than even this post indicates.

Thanks for reading this.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Could This Be Calum?

Who do you see?

Could this be me?

Would I

Could I

Expose me

To web scrutiny?

Well, what do you think?

Am I Michelin boy?

Or is this a con?


I am old and fat.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008


Where am I?

Who am I?

What day is it?

Why is my head spinning?

The last few days have been are a blur. Been busy writing a document for our MSP and the leader of his party urging them to propose similar measures in Scotland as have been put forward in England and Wales and to do so highlighting Mrs C's case. We'll see what happens.

I can't remember if I mentioned this before but one expert I spoke to last week thought that Mrs C might be able to sue the Health Board for failure in their duty of care. We need to investigate this.

Also kids on holiday for a week. Prob just as well I'm now on anti-depressants otherwise I wouldn't have been able to spend 90min turning around one of the kids on a mega "tantrum" / blow-out. When I manage this I realise that sometimes, just sometimes, I can parent.

Have bought newspapers each day. I read them but I'm not taking much in and so can't find a post in the daily goings-on and so I'll just cobble something together - as I am doing now.

A few days ago I was in Woolies and had just bought a newspaper when I heard the shout, "Stop him!", not directed at me I should add. A young lad - early twenties - was running out the shop with an armful of toys. I made as though to grab him. I don't know if I could but a voice in my head said, "Let him go" and I simply ran after him for about twenty yards but he was gone. Shop staff were praising me but it was wrong. I felt guilty because I knew that I had cheated: I could have done more to catch the thief. Anyway, I walked away with my guilt, which didn't last long, and my papers. Why put myself at risk for an armful of toys? Big hero, aren't you, Calum!?!?!

Apologies for being absent from most blogs for a few days: the blur took over!! Hopefully, tomorrow I'll be seeing a bit more clearly and can find my way to your blogs.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Clegg Calls for Better Mental Health Services. What about Scotland?

Today Nick Clegg presented Lib Dem plans for an overhaul of mental health provision in England and Wales. The full speech is available in two parts (P1 and P2) and a summary is here.

Central to his plans are a 13 week maximum waiting time. He says:

"Early assessment and the provision of appropriate therapies are key to reducing drug-prescription rates and combating mental health problems before they have the chance to grow deeper and become entrenched. So by the year 2012 I want our health service to guarantee that no patient will wait longer than thirteen weeks for their first treatment." and "Where the NHS fails to meet those waiting times, the individual patient would be entitled to seek treatment from the private sector."

Clegg is so right when he says that early assessment and provision are important to prevent problems becoming deeper and more entrenched. The Carr family would have benefited from this approach as would patients in Plymouth who have to wait more than three and a half years for a psychotherapy assessment!

Other parts of his speech are worth highlighting:

"One in four Britons suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives: One in six is suffering at any given time. Whether it is you, your mother or father, son or daughter, grandmother or grandfather, aunt or uncle, niece of nephew – mental health issues directly affect most of Britain’s families. And we know that severe mental health illness in a parent has consequences for the whole family:"

The effect of Mrs Carr's problems and the lack of appropriate treatment has resulted in a significant worsening of her condition, the children suffering from increased anxiety and anti-depressant prescription plus short-term Community Psychiatric Support for me.

"We must cut the number of anti-depressants prescribed by doctors. That’s not to say that medication has no role to play in tackling mental health roblems: of course it does. But they should not be the default option, prescribed by doctors because of a lack of access to psychological therapies. Anti-depressants come with risks associated with all medicine – dependency and the danger that they mask problems rather than cure them. Pills must not be a crutch for the wider issues in our society which cause mental health problems. But if we want to achieve that we must ensure that alternative treatments are free and accessible."

"(A)ccessible" that's the key because most services are available somewhere sometime but they are only accessible after a long long wait provided, of course, that the appropriate diagnoses are carried out. Here again, Mrs Carr is losing out because her underlying problems are being ignored - haven't been assessed and there is no word of their ever being assessed - whilst they worsen and the NHS attempts to sort out her eating disorder. They seem not to realise that even if her eating disorder could be resolved her basic mental health issues would still be causing major problems. In fact, it is unlikely that her eating disorder can be "cured" until the underlying problems are resolved.

"But why has this crisis in mental health been allowed to grow? Why is the NHS letting down these service users? And why have politicians shamefully chosen to turn a blind eye to the scale of mental health problems in Britain? I say it is time to break the silence. We must bring the issues surrounding mental health from the shadows into the centre of our national debate on the kind of society we want to live in."

Yes!! Mental health problems are so widespread but mental health services are the minnows in terms of funding.

Clegg continues: "When the battle for PCT resources begins, mental health loses out. Funding has been channelled into acute hospitals and away from mental health because of two Government initiatives. Acute hospitals and primary care trusts are under extreme pressure to deliver on the 18 week waiting time target by the end of this year. And the money in acute care now follows the patient under ‘payment by results’. But neither waiting time targets nor payment by results apply to community mental health services. The result: PCTs have less money left for block contracts to fund mental health services. At a mental health trust I visited staff told me that their funding has been cut over the last five years.

That is a hopeless situation.

And with the money that is available for mental health, it has been channelled into acute services which benefit only 2% of mental health service users.

We hear the same story from voluntary organisations: the potential workload increases but their funding decreases.

Why should a killer illness such as Anorexia nervosa - in which 10 - 15% of sufferers die - be so underfunded that in Gloucestershire there is a two year wait for treatment and within our own Health Board Mrs Carr has had a fourteen month wait from referral for treatment? Why?

And again he says: "It’s early intervention, community support, reduced admissions and ideas to help people back into employment that need attention. Because they are the key to reducing emergency emissions. But these are the very services that have been neglected. This in turn exacerbates mental health problems:" and "But for many psychological and psychiatric problems, therapies would tackle the root causes of the problem, rather than just
help them to cope. And early intervention can make a massive difference to prognosis.

Lack of diagnosis, of early intervention and of community support led to Mrs Carr's suicide attempts, continuing severe self-harm, worsening condition overall and deteriorating physical and mental health of other family members.

"A cynic might say that the government’s attention has gone into tackling the highest profile illnesses with the most vocal and empowered patients. Mental health services have commanded less favourable coverage, less government attention, and less money.

I have posted previously on this subject.

"Often the most vulnerable people are waiting scandalously long for access to treatment when all the evidence shows that early intervention is vital. .......... This is a heartless, brutal way to treat some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

Why is it that our television screens are full this week, rightly, with the suffering of battery fed chickens but silent on the scandalous way we treat the mentally ill in our midst?

Mental health resources have been neglected and the services have suffered.


"Mental health service users are perhaps the people who most need an approachable, effective and enabling NHS. We will know that we have succeeded when it opens doors to a brighter future for them."

Thank you, Nick Clegg, for such an insightful exposition of the state of mental health services in England and Wales. But we in Scotland are suffering fom exactly the same problems.

Nicol Stephen: Follow the lead of your UK party's leader and promote similar aims and solutions.

Alex Salmond: Forget party politics! Stand up as First Minister and support Nick Clegg's diagnosis and aims - even if not his solutions - and promote similar improvements in mental provision in Scotland.

Wendy Alexander: Forget your worries over financing. Forget party politics too! Scotland needs similar improvements.

Annabel Goldie: You too can do your bit. Demand major improvements. Nick Clegg has given an outline of the problems and possible solutions.

You all know what you have to do. Stand up and improve the mental health provision in Scotland in as significant a way as Nick Clegg is proposing in England and Wales. Remember these words:

"Mental health service users are perhaps the people who most need an approachable, effective and enabling NHS. We will know that we have succeeded when it opens doors to a brighter future for them."

Tuesday, 5 February 2008


Really struggling just now.

Will post when / if I can.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

No Blog Reprise

There will be no Blog Reprise this week. I have had neither the time nor the inclination to read widely enough to produce the compilation.

Possibly next week.