‘I hold NHS Tayside responsible for Sophie’s death’

Sophie ParkinsonSophie Parkinson took her own life in 2014

The mother of a teenage girl who took her own life said she holds NHS Tayside responsible for her daughter’s death.

Ruth Moss’s daughter Sophie Parkinson died in 2014, aged 13, after “six years of really struggling and being in a system that let her down badly.”

Mrs Moss said she is “absolutely sure” Sophie would still be alive if she had been given appropriate medical care.

An independent inquiry into mental health services across NHS Tayside was commissioned earlier this month.

Mrs Moss, who is suing the health board, said she believed NHS Tayside’s Child and Adolescent Health Services (CAMHS) viewed two previous suicide attempts by Sophie as “childish cries for help”.

Mrs Moss told BBC Scotland that she believed the CAMHS risk assessment of Sophie was “hugely inadequate.”

Ruth Moss
Ruth Moss said she believed Sophie would still be alive if she had been given appropriate care

She said: “I’m absolutely sure that if CAMHS had given a good standard of care, nothing exceptional, just standard of care, and had had some element of accountability throughout the process, then Sophie would be alive today.

“I hold NHS Tayside responsible for Sophie’s death. It’s made me angry, upset, hurt – a whole barrage of other feelings.”

Mrs Moss, who formerly lived in Liff, near Dundee, said her “bubby, brilliant child” had been referred to CAMHS when she was eight, after showing signs of behavioural problems and low self-esteem.

Mrs Moss, who is a nurse, said Sophie’s difficulties became “a lot, lot worse” as she grew older.

‘Fatal combination’

She said: “It was almost like that combination between hormones and mental health was a fatal one for Sophie.

“As Sophie’s condition worsened she started to see a trainee psychologist.

“It was at that point really that Sophie became very unwell and it was at that point I felt the services started to let us down.

“She self-harmed quite significantly.

“She tried to kill herself on two previous occasions and neither of those were really taken seriously by NHS Tayside.”

Sophie Parkinson
Mrs Moss said her daughter was a “bubbly, brilliant child”
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Mrs Moss, who now lives in Edinburgh, said Sophie was deemed unsuitable for in-patient care despite repeated requests.

She said: “I actually approached her psychologist and said Sophie needs to be admitted.

“The feeling I was left with was she wasn’t bad enough.

“Sophie had two previous (suicide) attempts and she self-harmed. In spite of all that information it wasn’t deemed appropriate.”

Miss Moss said while she had “nothing against” Sophie being seen by a trainee clinical psychologist, there needed to be a level of senior involvement in terms of risk assessment and children presenting as high risk.

She said: “That was lacking in Sophie’s case.

“I came out feeling that Sophie was let down by a service that didn’t take her seriously and didn’t take me seriously.”

Sophie ParkinsonSophie was referred to CAMHS when she was eight-years-old

Mrs Moss said that the “end result” of this was that Sophie took her own life.

She said: “The warning signs were there and in my view should have been picked up on by professionals that are in this every single day.

“I come from an acute setting where patient safety is paramount, patient care is paramount.

“If somebody is deteriorating on an acute ward there is a process for risk assessing that person and making sure that intervention happens.”

Mrs Moss said she believed the investigation following Sophie’s death was inadequate.

She said: “That was not robust and rigorous in my view. It tended to pick the things I’d complained about and answered them, but it wasn’t an independent review process.

“NHS Tayside investigate Tayside. Turkeys don’t vote for Xmas and there seems to be a flaw in that right from the start.

“We need a process here whereby parents of children who have died in the health service have an ability to find out what went wrong and be absolutely reassured that the investigation is robust.”

Sophie Parkinson

Mrs Moss said the forthcoming independent inquiry must include a “robust and rigorous investigation” of CAMHS.

She said: “I would also like the process for investigating deaths in mental health to be looked at to ensure there is a good investigatory process set up where a health board isn’t examining its own procedures, there’s an independent process in there that works when these deaths occur.”

Mrs Moss said she has kept in contact with Sophie’s friends and their parents.

She said: “When you lose a child you don’t just grieve the loss of that child at that time.

“I’ve watched them grow up, I watch them learn to drive, I watch them go to university.

“My child will never have that opportunity.”

An NHS Tayside spokeswoman said: “As this is a legal matter we are unable to comment.

“Every suicide is a tragedy and our thoughts remain with the family.”



Link to BBC News article here 

My name is Wil Wheaton. I live with chronic Depression, and I am not ashamed.


Link to Wil Wheaton’s Blog here 

Mental health bosses admit care standards slipping across Tayside

Youngsters in Tayside are facing an “alarming” mental health crisis after care bosses admitted standards have plummeted in six months.

The number of kids getting help for mental health problems within a reasonable time frame dropped from 96.6% in June 2017 to 43.9% in December.

The rate covers the proportion of youngsters who are referred to and seen by NHS Tayside’s child and adolescent mental health services (CAHMS) team within a target of 18 weeks.

Across Scotland, the target health boards are expected to meet is 90%.

Keiran Watson, of youth support charity Eighteen and Under, said he found it “alarming” that less than half of kids were being seen on time.

He said: “As it is, the 18-week timescale is too long.

“If you’re a young person who is feeling depressed or has delusions, or is self-harming or even feeling suicidal — or if you are a parent of a young person like that — can you imagine being faced with an 18-week wait?

“The fact that less than half of young people are being seen within that 18-week target is shocking. It’s really quite alarming.”

Lorna Wiggin, NHS Tayside’s chief operating officer, told the health board at a meeting this week the slide was due to staff shortages equivalent to 3.3 full time workers.

She said: “Previous attempts to recruit have been unsuccessful. However, the posts have been re-advertised and interviews are due to take place in March.”

Ms Wiggin said significant improvements would not happen until those positions are filled, but added that high-priority children can be seen within five days of referral if their case is judged to be an emergency. We’re expecting a slight improvement in the next three months, but not a major one.

“We were able to rely on adult (mental health) services for some support but they’re not able to do that now.”

NHS Tayside may well reach out to other health boards for support with CAMHS in the near future.

Chief executive Lesley McLay said she had requested a review of the system with managers to avoid any further repeats of the situation.

She added: “We recognise that action is already happening (to improve performance). We may involve another health board as well.”


Link to Evening Telegraph here 

Zoe Ball: Sport Relief challenge to raise mental health awareness

Zoe Ball

Zoe Ball has said the death of her boyfriend last year left her with “lots of questions,” as she prepares for a cycle challenge to raise mental health awareness.

Cameraman Billy Yates, found dead at his home last May, had been living with mental health issues for years.

Ball will also film a documentary about mental health while taking part in the Sport Relief challenge.

“I wanted to do something for him,” said Ball.

Speaking to Chris Evans on his Radio 2 Breakfast Show, she added: “One in four people is living with mental illness. That’s a lot of people struggling.”

‘Close to my heart’

The Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two host has been out training ahead of her challenge.

Details of the route, including the distance and locations, are yet to be revealed, but she admitted it was “a long way” for a novice cyclist.

Ball said Sport Relief was supporting mental health issues this year, adding: “It’s very close to my heart.”

 Zoe Ball is taking on a cycling challenge to raise awareness of mental health

“I think lots of people know that I lost my boyfriend last year, who lived with depression for a very, very long time.

“I was really touched and moved by the amount of people who got in touch with me, who have been through the same, or living with the same issues.

“Mental health resources are under huge pressure and there are a lot of people who are not necessarily getting the support they need in time.”

‘How can we help?’

Speaking about Yates’ death, she added: “I was left with lots of questions. While we’re doing the challenge, we’re making a documentary. I’m going to visit projects helping people living with mental illnesses – that can be anything from self-harm, anxiety, depression, bereavement, bullying – all of those issues.

“I have lots of questions about what are we doing? How can we help? How do people find the right help?

“There are some incredible organisations helping people.”

She said the challenge was about “spreading some awareness and hopefully helping people find the right help and some hope”.

In her interview with Evans, she told him: “I wanted to raise some awareness. I wanted to do something for him – I wanted to do something for everyone else.

She has already got tips from Davina McCall, who completed her own Sport Relief challenge in 2014. McCall has given some “top tips” on “looking after undercarriages”, said Ball.

Unveiling news of her mission on BBC Breakfast, she said: “I’ve ridden shopping bikes. My dad held my saddle and pushed me along when I was five. I’ve had a go on a BMX.

“But road bikes is a whole new thing. Cleats? Oh my goodness me.

“I’ve had an altercation with a kerb, I’ve had an angry driver, I’ve had two slow-motion falls.”

She joked: “I look the part – all the gear, no idea.”

Sport Relief is held every two years. The 2016 event saw comedian Eddie Izzard run 27 marathons in 27 days and Radio 1’s Greg James complete five triathlons in five days.

Sport Relief is taking place from 17 to 23 March.



Link to BBC article here 

People with mental illnesses refused access to insurance cover

 Insurance firms deny discrimination, with 7/7 victim among those turned down

Insurers have been accused of depriving access to life insurance and other kinds of cover to people with depression and anxiety, even for physical conditions unrelated to their mental health.

People who have suffered even mild mental health conditions or one-off episodes say they have been refused life insurance altogether, aggravating their financial insecurity.

In some cases, insurers appear to base their refusal on long-distant episodes of depression or anxiety, or when customers admit to having had suicidal thoughts or self-harming noted on their medical records. These customers are then allegedly deemed unsuitable to insure even for circumstances where death is not linked to a mental condition.

One refused applicant was a victim of the 7 July 2005 London bombings who experienced post-traumatic stress disorder. She described being turned down as “upsetting” and “worrying”, saying it showed ignorance about mental illness.

“I was never given a specific explanation as to why I had been rejected but I have not got any physical health issues,” said the woman, who did not wish to be identified.

“I can see it from the perspective of the insurance company; they are not going to want to provide cover for mental health related issues to someone who has had mental health problems. But I was surprised to be rejected for any coverage at all, particularly given my otherwise good health,” she added.

Others say they were penalised after attending one or two grief counselling sessions following a family death, leading to rocketing premiums.

Charities warned that gaps in the law mean customers have little protection against this form of prejudice.

“The difficulty is that the only protection available is to people who are disabled under the Equality Act and even then there are certain exemptions for insurance business,” said Michael Henson-Webb, head of legal at mental health charity Mind.

“The current definition of disability under that Act doesn’t cover everyone with a mental health problem and makes it difficult for individuals with mental health problems and their legal advisers to clearly determine their rights.”.

Laura Peters, advice manager at Rethink Mental Illness, said: “What is judged as ‘high risk’ seems to be based on an increasingly outdated understanding of mental illness. This viewpoint is resulting in people … being disproportionately penalised for their condition with eye-watering premiums or flat out rejection. Life and health insurance can be a vital safety net.”

Prince William, pictured at the Hyde Park memorial to victims of the 7 July 2005 London bombings, has spoken about ending the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Prince William, pictured at the Hyde Park memorial to victims of the 7 July 2005 London bombings, has spoken about ending the stigma surrounding mental illness. 

“It feels to me wholly inappropriate and discriminatory. This is something that the government needs to investigate as a matter of urgency. We need to get a fundamental review of these policies,” he said.

The Guardian heard from dozens of people about the matter. Many of them were rejected for life insurance but others had problems getting health or travel insurance. They said the reason for their refusal had not been made clear but many said the only probable cause was their mental health record.

Many believed they were turned down because of having suicidal thoughts or self-harming noted in their medical records, but others said they were told to apply again at a later date due to having had a recent diagnosis.

The suspicion is that insurers are cherry-picking customers to minimise risk and boost the bottom line.

Henson-Webb said: “Some insurers are operating with a total lack of transparency. That so many people seem none the wiser as to why they have been declined insurance means they aren’t being given information about how decisions have been made.

“It looks as though some insurers are making crude assessments such as the ‘three strikes’ rule, which could amount to discrimination.”

One insurance broker, who asked to be anonymous, said: “Some insurers target different markets and like ‘clean lives’. It sounds awful but they are hard-nosed businesses.”

He added: “My wife looked to apply for new cover recently and she had gone to her GP about work-related stress and the insurer automatically increase the premium. How many people go through work related stress? I thought that was ludicrous.”

Another respondent, 27-year-old Cara Lisette from Hampshire, said that she had been denied cover but at the same time her partner who had an eye condition had been accepted with exceptions put in place. “This seems unfair, that he can get cover that excludes his condition but I cannot get the same,” she said.

A lot of those who responded said that discrimination had made them wary of getting further treatment.

Insurers say applications for life insurance go through careful assessment and are evidence based. They say that when dealing with customer’s with mental health problems they ask questions such as how long it has lasted and how it has been treated. They also ask about any time off work or suicide attempts. Insurers acknowledge that in a small number of cases, mental health backgrounds may result in a premium loading or exclusion, or in the most severe cases, a refusal to offer cover.

A spokesman for Royal London said: “Most mental health conditions are mild or self-limiting, and as a result we are able to offer standard rates to more than 90% of customers who inform us of their condition.”

An Aviva spokesperson said: “We take our responsibility to comply with the Equality Act 2010 very seriously. The Act includes special rules that permit insurers to assess customers individually and to offer acceptance terms at the standard rate, at an increased premium or to refuse to offer cover based upon each individual applicant’s risk.

“We do not refuse to offer cover or offer cover on different terms to people with a disability, unless there is statistical evidence the condition presents a higher risk than for someone who does not have a history of the condition.”



Link to Guardian article here 

CAN YOU HELP? Dundee teen searches for ‘kind cabbie’ who helped rid her of suicidal thoughts

A Dundee teenager who has suffered from severe depression and suicidal thoughts is hoping to track down an inspirational taxi driver who she says turned her life around.

Chloe Wagener, 17, wants to thank the mystery driver who took her home Tuesday morning, having picked her up outside the Corfu Kebabs takeaway in North Lindsay Street at 1.45am.

North Lindsay Street 

The life skills student, from Fintry, said she has been dealing with a number of mental health problems in recent years, including depression and anxiety.

These have been brought on by a number of events in her life such as family bereavements and illnesses, and having been a victim of bullying.

It was an outpouring of all of this to the selfless cabbie, she says, that caused her to have a change of heart.

She said: “We began talking and I just started to tell him about all the things that have been happening in my life.

“He started speaking back to me and said: ‘Do you know something? I’ve been through the same’.

Chloe Wagener

“He gave me really good advice, telling me about what he had been through, telling me I was young and that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Chloe said she had made multiple attempts on her own life and had resorted to self-harm. She thinks she has attended the mental health unit at Carseview as many as 10 times in recent years.

However, she said that the taxi driver’s advice had given her a new perspective.

“He said that trying to take your own life wasn’t worth it, saying: ‘What happens if you do end your life, how does that affect other people?’

“It made me realise that if I was to end my life I would be missed a lot.

“He gave me advice that has changed my life.”

Chloe said the driver, who never gave his name, was in his late forties, of Pakistani descent, and had short black hair. He wore black glasses, was clean shaven and had a small mole on his face.

She believes that, in all, the driver spoke with her for about an hour — but was in no rush to send her on her way.

She added: “I’m struggling with a lot every day and I’ve been bullied to the point I lock myself in bathrooms or sit crying in the shower. But him talking to me has put a smile on my face and changed how I’m looking at life.

“It’s helping my depression to shift, and I want to say thank you for that.”

The cabbie’s actions were praised by Wendy Callander, executive director at Dundee Association for Mental Health.

She said: “It’s always encouraging to hear stories where people have just been supportive, and a kind word at the right time can make all the difference for someone who is struggling.”


If you know who Chloe’s Good Samaritan is, contact the Tele directly on 575350.



Link to Evening Telegraph article here