Phil was recently interviewed by Jamie Milligan from the Courier about what the the proposed changes to mental health services within NHS Tayside might mean for staff and patients. The original article is HERE
The father of a Dundee man who took his own life fears local mental health services will “implode” if plans to close NHS Tayside’s Mulberry Unit go ahead.
Lee Welsh, 27, died in August after suffering from mental health issues.
Now his father, who is pursuing a complaint against the medical practice where the 27-year-old was a patient, has had first-hand experience of the system and says he is worried about the strain on services in Dundee if the move goes ahead.
Phil Welsh began to suffer severe anxiety and symptoms of agoraphobia following Lee’s death and was treated at Dundee’s Carseview Centre.
He says the treatment he received was “brilliant” but he fears the touted closure of the Mulberry Unit at Stracathro Hospital, near Montrose and the transfer of services to Carseview will heap too much pressure on staff.
NHS Tayside’s three-month public consultation on mental health and learning disability services ended last week.
Last night health bosses insisted they would take all responses on board when weighing up a final decision – and stressed that the aim was to create centres of excellence for patient care.
The preferred option on the table is to close the Mulberry Unit and transfer services and staff to Carseview.
However Mr Welsh said he had grave concerns about the proposal.
“I can only see the entire situation imploding,” he said. “It looks like centralisation is the way they want to go. I still think there should be something else there, like the Edinburgh Crisis Centre, somewhere for people to go and have a chat with someone.
“If they’re going to send everyone in a crisis up to Carseview, staff are going to have it up to here. It’s an absolute shame. You can’t expect Carseview to pick up every single thing. It’s just not feasible.”
Mr Welsh said forcing patients who are already under great strain to travel from Perthshire and Angus to Dundee for treatment could be disastrous.
He added: “I hit the wall about six weeks after Lee’s death. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life, it was awful.
“The paramedic said it was the worst panic attack she had seen in 22 years on the job. Carseview’s crisis team were absolutely brilliant. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think I would be here today. ”
Chief officer for Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership Robert Packham said: “Should the preferred option for mental health and learning disability services in Tayside be approved, it would allow us to make better use of our nursing and medical staff enabling us to continue to deliver high quality, sustainable patient care.
“Locating all General Adult Psychiatry (GAP) acute admissions at Carseview and specialist services and Learning Disabilities at Murray Royal will allow us to create centres of excellence through shared learning/experiences and remove unnecessary variation across localities.
“The preferred option would mean that GAP acute admission beds in Mulberry Ward at the Susan Carnegie Centre and Moredun Ward in Murray Royal Hospital would relocate to Carseview Centre.
“It is important to note that if the preferred option is approved, the staff from the Mulberry Ward and the Moredun Ward would move with their patients to ensure continuity of clinical care. The nursing teams would also benefit from additional staffing resources.
“People across Angus, Dundee, and Perth and Kinross have shared valuable feedback during the three-month consultation on proposals for Mental Health and Learning Disability Services in Tayside.
“All views gathered during the consultation will be included in a final report with recommendations for the new service model, which will be presented to the relevant Boards and Committees in December 2017/January 2018 before Perth and Kinross Integration Joint Board makes a decision based on all the facts and opinions presented.”
Prescriptions for mental health medicines have increased year-on-year.
Prescriptions for mental health drugs have almost doubled over the past ten years, new NHS figures reveal.
A total of 1,149,216 prescriptions for antidepressants, ADHD drugs, and medicines to treat conditions such as psychoses and dementia, were recorded in Tayside and Fife in 2016-17.
A decade ago, prescriptions totalled 648,968 and the number grew steadily year-on-year, with the largest overall increase observed in dementia treatment.
Prescriptions for dementia drugs have more than tripled since 2006/7.
The news comes shortly after Mental Health Awareness Day, which aimed to give mental health staff, patients and other stakeholders a platform to share experiences and discuss what needs to be done to improve care.
NHS Tayside interim clinical director for mental health and learning disability services Dr Stuart Doig said: “Drug therapy can be important in helping people recover from a mental illness, as well as help prevent them from relapsing or preventing their condition deteriorating.
“Not all mental health conditions require drug treatment and some conditions may respond to psychological, educational or social interventions.
“However, it is increasingly common that patients receive a combination of drug therapy and these other interventions to help them recover from their illness.”
Dr Doig explained anti-depressants are used for a range of medical conditions, such as chronic pain, meaning a rise in prescribed items does not necessarily mean a rise in rates of mental health problems.
He added increased public awareness of mental health conditions means people are more likely to seek support from their doctor.
Dr Doig said: “Another important point is that the number of items prescribed is not the same as the number of people receiving prescriptions and there will be variation in the number of items prescribed to a person in a year depending on how often they receive prescriptions.
“Increased levels of identification and diagnosis of mental health conditions, including dementia, means that more patients are accessing important treatments that can improve the quality of life for them and their families.”
Two Tayside women have spoken out about what it’s like living with mental health conditions, and what treatment methods worked best for them.
Rebecca Shearer, 24.
I have food-related anxiety, which started after I came down with a bad virus.
The lining of my stomach ripped and my digestive system was completely battered.
It developed into a psychological issue, where I associated food with being sick.
It got to the stage where I couldn’t eat in restaurants, and before I went to an event I’d make sure I hadn’t eaten, because I was afraid of being sick.
I had panic attacks where I’d retch, even though I wasn’t actually being sick.
I didn’t go through the standard NHS route, because I know a lot of people with anxiety and depression, and it affects everyone differently.
For me, the most effective method was hypnotherapy. I don’t have to reply on medication or be on long waiting lists, which works for me.
I haven’t had a panic attack in months and feel a lot calmer.
Fiona Grieve, 24.
I had been told at my first appointment that I was depressed and basically “here, have some meds , everything will be better”.
I didn’t feel like I had got the support that I required so when I booked my check-up appointment for two weeks later I changed doctor.
With her we were able to talk and came to the conclusion that my depression was caused by my anxiety, which was triggered by my low self-confidence.
As soon as it is diagnosed as anxiety rather than depression the waiting list for therapy is shortened by about five to six weeks and I was luckily taken just two weeks later.
I received three one-to-one sessions before going on a 10 week group therapy course for building confidence.
Being in a group where everything is confidential and everyone is there to support each other really helped.
I completed the group therapy and have been off antidepressants since July 2016.
I still have anxiety attacks but I know how to control them before they start to spiral downwards.
In some respects, yes, antidepressants work. There were no dramatic mood-swings which was an advantage at times as it meant I could get on with things but I did just feel numb.
I did discuss this with my doctor though and it can be down to the strength of the medication. My dosage was reduced later.
An article from the Courier reporting that more than 100 people per month submit homeless applications in Dundee. Original article HERE
There will be many reasons why this is happening but mental health issues must, in some cases, be a contributory factor to homelessness. In addition being homeless must also be a factor in some people going on to develop mental health issues. Whatever the case it’s a scandalous state of affairs.
More than 100 people present as homeless in Dundee each month.
Stark figures released by Dundee City Council reveal more than 8,000 homeless applications have been made to the local authority in the past six years.
The statistics include 259 victims of domestic abuse who have sought shelter in women’s refuges.
In 2016/17, the most recent financial year, 1,217 people were housed in temporary accommodation after making homelessness applications.
Figures peaked in 2011/12 when 1,562 applications were made over the course of the year.
Most people who submit homeless applications are put up in hostels owned by the council, social landlords or charities such as The Salvation Army.
The average stay in temporary accommodation is more than 70 days.
Councils must offer temporary housing to anyone who makes a homeless application but charity, Shelter Scotland has said homelessness and rough sleeping remain a huge problem.
The figures include all applications made to the local authority, so will include those made by people already in temporary accommodation seeking to move elsewhere.
Shelter Scotland said one Scottish household is made homeless every 19 minutes and the law must be changed to ensure all temporary accommodation meets certain standards.
Alison Watson, deputy director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Dundee has made good progress on homelessness over the last few years and staff in our local community hub have a positive relationship with the local council and other groups providing services to those affected.
“While there were fewer people presenting as homeless last year, there were still around 100 households per month presenting as homeless, so there is still work to be done.
“People who are found to be homeless need to have decent quality temporary accommodation to help them through their crisis and to enable them to start rebuilding their lives as soon as possible.
“But with no minimum standards in law for the quality of temporary accommodation, many people are left in unsuitable housing, living in limbo for increasing lengths of time. That must change.”
A spokesperson for Dundee City Council said help is available for anyone who finds themselves at risk of homelessness.
He said: “The Homeless Services Unit is based at the East District Housing Office.
“It is a one-door advice, information and accommodation service for people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.
“We understand that being homeless or being in danger of losing a home is difficult and traumatic. Our aim is to offer a service that is sympathetic to the situation as well as meeting our statutory duties.
“When we are contacted the first thing that happens is an assessment interview within three working days, or if a person is ‘roofless’ they will be seen on the same day. ”
He said homeless offices provide free and confidential advice as well as a range of housing options.
They will also discuss what benefits the homeless person can claim and other support.
Symon Mathieson, from SYKE Graffiti Art, has now designed a mural of Lee himself, next to the previously designed Oasis artwork at Dundee’s DPM graffiti park.
Lee’s parents, Phil and Lesley, were invited to the unveiling of Lee’s mural on Saturday and said they are “lost for words” by the love shown for their son.
Phil said: “We received a phone call from one of Lee’s friends requesting that Lee’s mum and I come along to the DPM on Saturday at 2pm, which we did.
“There we noticed a small gathering of his friends, and then we spotted the actual mural of Lee himself. We were lost for words
“His mother and I adore it and Lee would have loved it.
“Seeing something like the mural on the wall emphasises to his mother and I how loved Lee was and that offers us comfort.
“His friends are organising a race night which again demonstrates the impact Lee had on many.”
Artist Symon said: “After seeing how much it meant to Lee’s friends and family having the Oasis portraits dedicated to him, I had no problem in doing the one of Lee. I didn’t know Lee, but friends of mine did, he was obviously a well known and loved guy.”
The Welsh family have already said they believe more has to be done to help those living with mental illness.
Phil, Lee’s mum, Lesley, and sister, Kirsty, believe Dundee should have its own crisis centre, similar to an initiative in Edinburgh, where those experiencing severe mental health issues can go for care.
A race night and disco in memory of Lee will be held at the function suite of Dundee’s Skyaxe Combat and Fitness Centre on November 18.
A website has been created by the family to share stories of mental health which can be shared with politicians and charities.
Mental health provision needs to be enhanced, not cut. To see the full article, including a video, go HERE.
Relocating mental health services from Perth to Dundee will cost lives, campaigners have claimed.
Almost 50 protesters gathered outside Murray Royal Hospital to stage a demonstration against NHS Tayside’s bid to move services from the Fair City.
The health board is holding a consultation on a proposal to close the Moredun ward at Murray Royal Hospital, which treats acute adult psychiatric inpatients, and move operations to Carseview in Dundee.
The protesters included people who use mental health services, carers, service providers and the general public, and the group was given support by passing motorists, who tooted their horns as they drove past.
Susan Scott, manager of local mental health charity PLUS Perth, which organised the demonstration, said: “Scotland’s most recent Mental Health Strategy is really disappointing. It’s not innovative enough.
“It is in NHS Tayside’s interest to listen. They need to let go of a bit of the power because they are not getting it right.
“We see a lot of people in crisis and it’s going to get worse with people having to travel to Dundee for help. If Moredun does stay we have a better chance of having locally-based crisis response.
“It’s awful to be in mental distress and to be plucked from your safe environment and taken to some place like Carseview which has struggled to keep people safe.
“We are getting feedback, through our questionnaire, to say that people would take their own life, or would not survive, if they had to go to Dundee.”
Philip Stott, of the Socialist Party, said planned NHS Tayside budget cuts would equate to £1million a week over the next four years.
He said: “NHS Tayside calls it savings but we would call it cuts.
“The concern is that if this unit closes then it means a long journey to Dundee to a psychiatric hospital there. It means having to pay out money to travel because services that were available in Perth are no longer available.”
Campaigner Tracy Swan, whose daughter was treated in the Moredun unit prior to her death, welcomed the protest.
She said: “It’s been a great response. We’ve also had a lot of emails from people that couldn’t be here because of work but support us.
“Today has given me hope, whereas before I had none.”
Chief Officer for Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership, Robert Packham, said: “Since the consultation started at the beginning of July, we have already attended more than 50 engagement events in locations across Tayside talking with a wide range of groups and organisations with an interest in mental health and learning disability, the public and our staff.
“There are further opportunities for the public to find out more information and provide feedback at drop-in sessions being held this week and next week in the foyer areas of Ninewells Hospital, Carseview Centre and Murray Royal Hospital.”