The Battle Against Nothing to See Here

On November 2nd, 2017, I was transported instantly from the bubble I call my life, to a completely different bubble. My new, hugely unwelcome bubble happened when my grandson Harry was born at East Kent hospitals and made extremely unwell by abstract poor care. The new bubble demanded completely different priorities, different emotions and was totally alien to me and those around me. The details behind what happened to Harry can be found here at harrysstory.co.uk. However, today I want to explore some aspects of how complaints were handled for us. The Battle against “Nothing to See Here” When Harry died on …

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Everyone’s business

Back in the summer, I tuned in to Newsnight for an item about an NHS Trust where 8,000 people in touch with mental health services died in three years. My daughter was one of the 8,000. Whilst watching the programme, I wondered what I would have thought if I hadn’t been personally involved in these tragedies. I’d have been shocked, definitely, but not necessarily touched. They would have been other people’s stories. “Suicide is everyone’s business” is not my phrase, but one used by Stephen Habgood, Director of MFC, in a discussion following a webinar we co-presented. To which most …

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Patient Safety Congress (Part 2): Apologies and Forgiveness

At the Patient Safety Congress, I learned how an apology can bring about a minor miracle. James Titcombe related how he lost his baby boy due to serious failings in maternity care. Although these were later detailed in the Morecambe Bay report, James felt there was still a gap in his healing needs. He had never had the chance to speak to any of the people involved in his son’s death and he was left with a sense that nobody cared. Eight years later the Trust facilitated a meeting with one of the midwives they had suspended. During this, she burst …

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Impressions from the Patient Safety Congress (Part 1)

When I was asked if I’d like to attend the Patient Safety Congress in Manchester in September, I saw no reason not to say yes. Why ever not? I thought. Who wouldn’t want to meet people concerned with keeping patients safe? What’s not to like, as they say? I didn’t realise at that point I would also be listening to people talking about how patients are not kept safe, but at least it wasn’t all about suicide.  When I turned up, I didn’t know whether any of it would make sense to me. I don’t work in healthcare, what’s patient safety got …

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Am I a Useful Idiot?

Trevor Stevens

Like many people I’ve met since my daughter died by suicide in December 2020, I have tried to turn my grief into something positive.  Such a positive response is quite common. Generally, for those whose child has died in this manner, their uppermost if not necessarily initial thought is that they do not want other parents to experience the same tragedy. It might arise instead of anger or as a reaction to anger or even in addition to anger. It’s rare for anger not to be felt; in fact, it’s so rare that I have yet to meet anyone who …

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Saving a young person’s life

Trevor Stevens

If you want to know how to look after suicidal young people, you can’t do much better than read this. It’s the true story of a teenager who credits her teacher with saving her life. What follows is a summary – the full version can be listened to at BBC Sounds.  Polly had struggled with anxiety and low moods throughout school and had gone through various Associations that provided talking therapy. Unprovoked, her mental health started to spiral, and she suffered a severe depressive episode. She became dependent on self-harm. She opened up to her Head of Year, who supported …

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The C word.

The church has long held the view that suicide was a sin.  PAPYRUS challenged the Catholic church’s view that suicide was a sin, which also contributed to the stigma around suicide and the view that the suicidal person had ‘committed’ a sin. We were sent a very clear message that the Catholic church did not hold the view that a person had ‘committed a sin’ if they were clearly unwell at the time. We did the same with other faiths and received the same kind of response. It is becoming clearer that the term ‘committed suicide’ is no longer appropriate.  …

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Suicide without ideation 

To prevent such deaths requires health professionals to take a broader view of risk than ideation. This is also true for tragic homicides by people with acute mental illness. Health professionals need to listen attentively to the concerns of family members, and/or friends.