Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Teenage substance misuse

Last week the NHS's National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse released figures showing how many teenagers are being treated for drug and alcohol problems in England.

The number of children seeking treatment for heroin and crack has fallen in the past few years, from a figure of 1,081 teenagers in 2005/06 (6% of the total being treated) to 657 last year (2%), treatment for cannabis misuse has remained steady; at 55% in 2005/06 and 53% now, it is the most common primary drug, a great worry .

Treatment for alcohol addiction has risen almost 100% , from 4,886 in 2005/06 (30% of the total) to 8,779 now (37%).

Use of harder drugs is low among under-12s; less than five pre-teens were treated for heroin or cocaine misuse and none were treated for problems relating to amphetamines, crack or ecstasy.

Cannabis and alcohol are by far the most common primary drugs for the teenage group

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

NHS stress phone service

The following article is from today's BBC news

NHS stress phone service launched
An NHS helpline to help people struggling with stress has been launched by the government.

The service is available across England, following concerns about the mounting problems people will face in coming months because of the economy.

Trained health advisers will staff the hotline - available on 0300 123 2000 - from 0800 to 2200 each day.

They will offer advice on debt, housing and employment, but can also put people in touch with mental health services.

It is estimated that a quarter of people with mental health problems experience debt, but a third of those do not ask for any help.

Average household debt is now almost £10,000, excluding mortgages, and recent surveys suggest up to half the population is worried about money because of the recession.

“ Job insecurity, redundancy, debt and money problems can all cause feelings of distress and helplessness ”
Jacqui Jedrzejewski, of NHS Direct
Care services minister Phil Hope said: "After the festive season many of us take a long hard look at our finances.

"Tightening our belts and getting out of debt always features high on the list of new year resolutions.

"But debt can have a serious impact on a person's mental wellbeing, causing stress, depression and even suicidal thoughts."

Jacqui Jedrzejewski, the mental health lead at NHS Direct, said the advisers were there to "offer sympathetic, relevant support and advice".

She added: "We know the credit crunch hits people in many different ways and job insecurity, redundancy, debt and money problems can all cause feelings of distress and helplessness."

The launch of the stress service, after a six-month pilot, comes after the government set out a new mental health strategy earlier this month.

The 10-year plan involved a series of measures, including the appointment of mental health co-ordinators to work with Job Centres.

Dedicated advice lines are also to be set up for small businesses to give their staff direct access to occupational health professionals to help them stay in work, while government-backed work placements are to be piloted to help people return to work.

Calls to 03 numbers cost no more than a national rate call to an 01 or 02 number and must count towards any inclusive minutes, according to Ofcom.

These rules apply to calls from any type of line including mobiles, landlines or payphones.


Now the concept has to be applauded but the reality is that MH services in the UK are stretched to the very limit as it is , what's really needed in more FRONT LINE SERVICES which means extra funding streams .

Monday, December 28, 2009


Today to its eternal shame China has been executed,Akmal Shaikh, 53, a father-of-three, of London,convicted of drug smuggling.

He had denied any wrongdoing and his family and other sources said he was mentally ill.

The execution took place despite repeated calls from his family and the British government for clemency

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Greetings at Christmas from Bradbury's blast
May you have friends at your fire,
blessings in your home, and joy in your heart. Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The annual Health Survey

The annual Health Survey for England is to be published today, gives amongst other fascinating data details of the percentage of women and men who fail to meet the Department of Health target of taking 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day .

For women, the figure is a very disappointing 96%. Men do slightly better, however, in that only 94% of them fall short of the ideal figure .

The survey have discovered that we apparently spend most of our time watching television, looking at a computer screen, eating, studying or drawing. I'm with them all the way in this analysis. I congratulate the researchers on showing a real understanding of modern life – except for the last part: the drawing!

I think they've gone awry !!! did they conducted their survey in an art college?

Saturday, December 19, 2009


I blogged a few months ago on the Inter linked social care and health policy or lack of ! in THE PEOPLES NOT SO DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF WILTSHIRE

I stated that in my humble opinion interlinked social care and health in Wiltshire seams to have suffered a few set backs within the county in the past few years , mainly caused so we are told by the turn down in the financial state of WC .

Since the creation of a single PCT and unitary authority we seam to have lost the will to achieve the great combined working that we enjoyed .

Wiltshire Council has just received a pay out from the Icelandic bank fund of £1,000,000-00 maybe some of this money could be used to reastablish a closer working relationship between the Council and the PCT ?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

In an ideal world the ultimate goal of government should be the promoting of mental wellbeing. It's not 'surreal' to make policies on that basis as some media sources recently implied .

A policy based on wellbeing rather than on cure is both health and financially viable .

With a general election on the horizon this is a thougt worth bearing in mind .

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Young people and mental wellbeing

Our society has changed dramatically for all the children and young people – they are under greater pressure to grow up fast. We wrap them in cotton wool in a zealot like attempt to protect them because we fear for their safety and yet we underprotect those who are abused or suffer from mental welfare issues

We demonise young people and lack understanding of the context they are growing up in. Many are isolated, unhappy, have eating disorders or self-harm . One in three children has a diagnosable mental health disorder – and that's just the ones that have been classified.

There is still a huge stigma around mental health, which means young people d0 not get the support they need. Support that nurtures wellbeing should be part of the foundation of all schools and teaching emotional resilience and mental well being must be a core element of the curriculum.

I think there is the economic argument too – investing in services for young people not only reduces misery and loneliness but saves millions in future costs to the criminal justice system, NHS, education and social care.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mental Health - National Service Framework

I came across this very interesting article from Andrew McCulloch who is chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, in yesterdays Guardian

Hope is on the horizon for mental health

The latest vision for mental health services is welcome, but now we must work on a long-term strategy to ensure all of its objectives are met
Ten years ago, New Labour launched the National Service Framework (NSF) – a new approach to detailed policy-making in healthcare. People in the mental health sector were delighted when told that one of the three priorities would be mental health, alongside cardiovascular disease and cancer. At last, its importance had been recognised.

A framework for mental health was shortly followed by the NHS Plan that set targets, matched with significant resources. Since then, mental health services in England have been at least partly transformed, and resources increased by about 50%. Key elements of the framework have been adopted around the world.

This is fantastic progress, but still does not match the massive need. Mental illness costs the UK economy £100bn a year, and one in four adults experience a mental health problem each year.

For the last two years, the mental health sector has been pressing government to replace the framework with a new policy vision. It has engaged closely with us to produce New Horizons, a vision for mental health, launched this week. The two questions now are: is the new vision a worthy successor to the NSF, and will it deliver? The pressure is great because the next 10 years are likely to be more challenging for mental health than any since the second world war.

There are many positives about New Horizons. First, it exists, when we could have had nothing. Second, it understands that good mental health can be delivered only by cross-government action. Issues such as jobs, schools, the environment and benefits are often more important to people's mental health than the quality of healthcare – and most people with common mental illness never go near a specialist mental health service. Third, it highlights the need for a mentally healthy population.

This public health approach to mental health is perhaps the most ground breaking aspect of the vision. Our mental health is important to all of us. Without it, we cannot be happy and healthy, we cannot function well in relationships or work, and we become more vulnerable to serious physical illness, such as heart disease, and specific mental illnesses, such as depression. We need to embed a much better understanding of good mental health in healthcare services, schools, workplaces and the general population. And we need to raise awareness about how people can protect their mental health. New Horizons starts the process with some key actions.
When it comes to helping those with a severe or enduring mental illness, the vision advocates a recovery-based approach. This means services will need to support individuals to rebuild their lives and achieve the goals they want. Important issues are often jobs, relationships, physical healthcare, and money.

The vision, however, lacks a long-term strategy as to how all of the objectives will be achieved. The next stage must be to work on the specifics, but the challenge will be to do so with little resource. We can explain to decision-makers how good mental health leads to better classroom experiences and better results for our children, and to businessmen how it leads to higher productivity.

In hard times, it's got to be a case of making the existing resources and systems work for better mental health.

Monday, December 7, 2009

NHS IT scheme- or how to burn money !

The following clip is from the BBC web site

'The government will cancel some parts of its NHS IT scheme and allow trusts to develop their own systems in moves saving £600m, Andy Burnham told MPs.

The health secretary said the £12bn scheme - criticised over delays and costs - would be scaled back with more "options for savings" being looked at.

But it was a "myth" to say the whole project had been "a waste", he said.'

This FLAGSHIP project has been a tale of one disaster after another I suspect the overspend is just beyond belief and the whole concept was , in my humble view flawed from the beginning .

We need to have firm control of all spending re health and social care , we really cant afford to waste money like this .

One a happy note at least the NHS IT scheme WILL SIT IN MANY A OFFICE CORNER GLOWING NICELY !

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Goverment to target Depression

The government is preparing to announce a major mental health policy in England with the emphasis on tackling , preventing depression.

The 10-year strategy may well call for better identification of those most at risk and greater access to psychological therapies.

Depression/anxiety is said to affect one in five people at some point in their lives.

The Fly in the ointment is that it is not clear what, if any, funding will be available for the new plans.

The strategy, to be published taday , is expected to say that depression is as big a problem as heart disease


There has been a £170m programme in place for a few years to increase access to a type of treatment called cognitive behaviour therapy, designed to help patients to pinpoint and change the thoughts and actions that cause emotional problems.

It came after the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence said anti-depressants should be reserved for the more severe cases.

It is hoped the plans to be outlined today will broaden the range of psychological therapies available for GPs .

The focus is expected to be on prevention - identifying those most at risk, particularly in schools and colleges along with more help in the workplace, and support in finding a job.

Mental health is the single biggest cost factor of the NHS budget with almost 13% of all funds going on community, hospital, and drug and alcohol addiction services.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Care Quality Commission and Wiltshire Council

"The Care Quality Commission (CQC), in the annual performance assessment published today, found the council in 2008/09 was performing well overall. The new rating system grades councils as performing poorly, adequately, well or excellently.

The assessors felt council leaders and senior managers had a clear vision about how services should be provided and these future plans were based on extensive consultation with local people.

There was particular praise for the way the council was working hard to develop community and volunteer-based services and worked closely with local people. They found strong evidence the council listened to people and involved them in the development of services "

The above was taken from a local newspaper in Salisbury and is it has to be said good news for all the Service users in Wiltshire , however what is really needed now is a long term commitment from Wiltshire Council NOT TO CUT any funding to the voluntary sector dealing with social care for the next 6 years .

This would enable the third sector organisation to plan long term .

Friday, December 4, 2009

Swindon Borough Council Budget Cuts

Services may be cut and jobs lost at Swindon Borough Council under plans to save £10.5m.
Draft budget proposals for 2010/11 include cuts in charity grants, fewer bus routes and the switching off at night of 481 street lights-So says the BBC news

Well its only a matter of time in my humble opinion until Wiltshire Council follow suit, the kindest thing you can say re WC and its financial situation is a cloud of mist vials their fiscal policy .

So are we the Third Sector going to face cuts in grants ? I think the answer has to be yes and are we all geared up to cope with the cuts that's the pertinent question now .
Its carers rights day , major progress has been made in the field of carers rights over the last ten years but we still have some major work ahead of us .

Young carers seam to have fared badly in recent legislation , we must ensure they are adequately protected .

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Care Quality Commission Report

So its now official as many as 80,000 people are living in care homes or receiving services rated as only "poor" or "adequate", according to a government inspectorate.

Eight local councils have also been named and shamed for their performances in looking after the vulnerable and elderly, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) reveals in a report today.

This is a TOTAL DISGRACE ! we throw shed loads of money into the care system yet are unable to provide even the most basic of services , it begs the question WHY ?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009



Ally Fogg from the Guardian recently wrote the following

‘Everyone loves volunteers. Politicians laud them as the future of the nation; dignitaries pin them with gongs; the Queen invites them to tea. What a pity this admiration does not stretch to extending them any meaningful rights.

Volunteering England is launching a major inquiry to establish exactly what legal position volunteers should (and do) have. The results will be watched closely by the not-for-profit sector.’

Now as a charity trustee I agree that Volunteers are a major part of almost all charity operations and just like paid staff they must enjoy the full protection of the employment law .

However it is a fact of life that some charities are beginning to shy away from using volunteers because of all the paper work and extra overhead costs that the current legal system requires them to undertake re volunteers.

When dealing with Children and vulnerable adults the overhead cost of having a volunteer can be as high as 67% of a paid member of staff.

There have been cases of religious Charities actually closing down operations because there religious views conflict with the modern PC concept of what is acceptable .